Graduation Advice from Jean Luc
June has arrived and with it, graduation season! Although I have not (yet) received any invitations to speak at any commencement ceremony (maybe they got lost in the mail?) I would like to share with you, my thoughts on graduation – whether it be from preschool, grammar school, high school or college.
Dear Graduating Class of 2023
You’re done! You’ve turned in your last paper, taken your last final, cleaned up your locker for the last time, signed your last yearbook. You’ve donned your cap and gown, moved the tassel from one side to the other (as a cat, this is my favorite part!) and received your diploma.
You are finished! Done!And yet, many of you may not feel the same sense of glory one feels when crossing the finish line of a 5K, 10K, or even a marathon. Because unlike a race, where you throw your hands over your head and bask in the glory of your time, your graduation is more of a beginning than an end.
The word “commencement” is defined as “a beginning or a start”. And that’s what graduation is – the beginning of the next chapter of your life. For some of you, that may mean more schooling. For others it may mean finding a job. For others it could be finding a small car to jam yourself in (here I am specifically referencing those of you who are graduating from clown college).
No matter what your “next step” is though, it is just that – the next step. In other words, you are never really going to arrive or really be finished. You will graduate, you will get a job and then you will be onto your next step – getting married, having children, adopting a cat, etc.
A diploma doesn’t tell you that you have “arrived”. You are responsible for your own sense of accomplishment and to do that you need to ask yourself 3 questions today and every day:
- Have I made the world a better place?
This does not mean you have to solve climate change today. Have you been kind? Have you shown someone compassion? Have you smiled at a stranger? Complimented someone? Sat on someone’s lap? (this last bit of advice is for cat’s only please). Given to charity? Even a dollar makes a difference.
- Did I try hard today?
It’s easy to sit home all day and play Candy Crusher or Wordle. It’s hard to say that you are sorry when you make a mistake. It’s hard to be patient when dealing with a small child or an elderly relative. Did you share that can of food with your fellow feline even though you really LOVE the beef and gravy?
- Did you remember to say “please” and “thank you”?
Manners are for life. You got your diploma. Did you remember to thank your parents, advisors, and teachers who got you to this point in your life? You didn’t do it alone – others were there to guide you and sometimes that guidance was a ride to school when it was raining. Other times it comes down to a head butt against the leg of the person who gave you that cookie. Manners count.
Congratulations graduates! I am proud of each and everyone of you!