Monday, June 8, 2009

To the High School Graduates of 2009!

Young People -
The Summer after my Senior year in High School was one of the most exciting times in my life. I got hired by Mr. Carnegie to do construction in downtown Detroit. Leaving the suburbs to work in the inner city was the first of many rewarding personal journeys before me. I met some of the most interesting people I had ever met on that job site. Every afternoon after work I stopped by a liquor store (that encapsulated the ship's captain behind bullet proof glass) to pick up a few 40's to share with my friends. We would sit out in a field by a lake looking back on the last four years. These times shrouded in subtle salutes to one another for helping navigate the mundane rules of our youth. We would tell stories of our conquests and laugh until things went silent and we were individually left to look ahead. I thought of the great friends I had made, how I would miss them and what I would do without their security. I thought of the girlfriend I was leaving behind and how I would very likely never see her again. But more than anything, I could not wait to get out of the nest to try new things and experience new relationships.

So take this summer to tell your friends how much you have appreciated their support in this chapter of your life and 90 days from now delicately close this chapter. High School is over and it is time to begin living YOUR life by YOUR standards.

I was in your shoes 17 years ago, but here are a few theories that should ring universal as you enter this next phase of your life:
Leave High School in Your Home Town - Things will be more challenging now: you will have less friends, more responsibility, harder classes and grander expectations. You will want to quit and go back home....don't!

Call Mom - Your parents have been profoundly annoying since Jr High. Know this: all the frustration you will soon face they already have and can offer genuine advice accordingly. Your folks love you unconditionally and will be the first you call when things go pear shaped. Develop Karmic Escrow! Let Mom know when things are going well as opposed to waiting to ask for money or to break the news of academic probation.

Manage Your Time - You will now have more time than ever to live life by your standards. Put time aside every day to study and do not hit the keg party until your studies are complete. The beer tastes better on the wings of achievement and is less enjoyable with unfinished work looming.

Make New Friends - Your High School friends will always be there for will pick up where you left off and it will continue that way for eternity. Branch out, the kids you meet in college might not be there for you forever, but for now their varied upbringing will better formulate your life view.

Court the Best Looking Girl in Class - She has a boy friend at home in Nebraska but 4 years is a long time. You may want to be the first at the post office gate when she mails that guy his letter jacket.

Take Time to Discover Yourself - Don't go into the family business because it is convenient, don't marry that girl because your sister thinks she's sweet, and don't select a major based on your dad's dreams. Find what you love in life and make it your career. Passion is what differentiates professionalism. You have to follow what you love. Now is the time to choose your passion, 10 years from now it may be too late.

Don't Break Any Hearts and Don't be Afraid to Open Yours - It is extraordinarily unlikely that you will marry your High School sweetheart. He/She will break up with you via letter, phone call, text or email and your heart will sink into your shoes. You will get over it in a week or two. Be willing to let your love lead his/her life! Experience new relationships and know that if you follow your true intent you will find you an unimaginable happiness in Love. Be aware that if you smother someone with unrequited love you will both miss an essential part of growing up; resentment is immanent and often irreparable.

Shower Twice a Day - self explanatory.

Don't try hard drugs! - interpret how you will.

Drink beer or wine - Hard liquor goes down faster, will get you drunk faster, will lead you to make bad decisions and will probably cause you to throw up on your new shoes. Beer promotes longevity, stumbling into someones arms is not romantic.

Find a Leadership Role - I learned more in leading a student organization than I ever did in the class room. The key to leadership is listening to the group's concerns/goals and to formulate an organizational plan accordingly. You do not have to be super organized or well versed in public speaking to be a leader.

Get a Job - If you like fashion - work in retail. If you like sports - work in the athletic department. If you like music - work at the school paper writing indie rock reviews. If you like god - volunteer at the youth ministry. This practice will help you understand what you like and what you do not....disqualification is a key trait at this stage in your life.

Have Fun - Know that for the next four years you are formulating your career personality by trial and error. Step out of your comfort zone and be willing to fail; every day. Refinement of your strengths is the key! Try, Fail and Try is the time for this exercise.

Let this be the first of an array of adult advice that you take with a grain of salt. Accept advice with humble gratitude but follow your ambition. True intent is the result of life experience, now is the time to experience life!

Move forward without looking back and become the person you have always wanted to be!

- Dave

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