Pam Lowe
Contributing columnist
2022 Seniors . . . Well, here you are about to graduate. I’m sure you’re pinching yourself at the prospect of reaching your goal of the last 12 years. I think of you all as caterpillars. You’re about to leave your cocoons; your high school and homes, to emerge as butterflies and fly away to your futures.
Please know that every teacher you ever had is bursting with pride at your accomplishment. They will follow your ups and downs through life. Every time your picture appears in the paper, they will say, “There’s my former student.” You will always be their kids.
Your parents, grandparents or guardians are about to do one of the hardest things they will ever do and that’s to let you go. Their life’s work has been to guide and love you and now you are ready to go out on your own. You won’t know how they feel in this moment until years later when you will be in their shoes, and you will wonder how they ever did it. So, these last few weeks, cut them some slack. While you’re excited and perhaps a bit nervous, they are more than likely trying to hold it together during this poignant moment for them. Believe or not, you and your parents have grown up together. They aren’t the same people they were before you were born and came into their lives and formed your family. As they have watched over you through the years, you’ve been watching them as well. They have been modeling how to handle this thing called Life for about 18 years. Your graduation is the bittersweet culmination of their life’s efforts and as you move on into your new life; remember they will always be rooting for you to succeed. Relax and enjoy this time as you both prepare for your graduation. Although your parents knew this day was coming, it doesn’t make it easier now that it’s here. They’ve spent approximately 940 weeks loving and guiding toward this time in your life and trust me, those years passed in the blink of an eye for them. So when they smile at you through their tears; know they are experiencing a rich mixture of heartache, pride and love.
I hope that when you look in the mirror every morning when preparing to go to college classes or work, you will see the generations of your family in your face and make a conscious decision to make them proud.
For those that are going to college, the new freedom can be heady. In fact, it can be overwhelming. No one at college will care if you do or do not turn in assignments or attend class. Some instructors will not care if you don’t understand the material. It will be up to you to be disciplined, resourceful and to figure things out. I’ve seen many students flounder because they could not handle their new freedom when they didn’t have mom or dad to help them. Sometimes in a small town, things can come too easy. We know everyone in high school. We get away with much more. Rules are sometimes bent. It’s not that way in the big world and if you’re going to college, instructors won’t bend the rules just for you. More than likely you will be one of a few hundred young people in your instructor’s classes. You are expected to do your work and hold up your end of the bargain, to be a serious student. Whether you receive a full ride to college, are attending through loans or mom and dad are paying for it, never forget that someone is paying for your opportunity to get a college degree.
If you’re entering the work world, enter it with the same serious intention. Display a good work ethic. Whatever you do, give it your best effort.
You’re going to receive a lot of advice in the next weeks and months. Here are some truths that will be valuable to you in the coming years.
A thousand I love yous are meaningless if a person’s actions say differently.
Base your relationships with others on your personal dealings with them and not on hearsay or gossip.
Don’t be careless or reckless with other people’s hearts. Whether it’s your parents, a romantic interest or a friend, safeguard against hurting others who care about you. Loyalty and love are hard to come by in this world.
Pay yourself first. When you get paid, put back at least 10 percent of your earnings. You’ll be glad you did.
Look people in the eye when you talk to them.
Try to remember people’s names when you’re introduced. People like to be called by their name and when others remember details about them. Relationships are built on how we make others feel when around us.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Comparison leads to unhappiness. Compete only with yourself to be a better person each day.
Happiness is elusive if you chase it. The deepest joys come as a result of helping others.
Don’t allow a bad day to influence you to the point that you make a bad decision.
Someone you may not think is attractive at first glance, will become beautiful or handsome if you fall in love with their personality.
Time is a precious gift. Show up for others and value those who give their time to you.
Don’t allow anyone to hurt your heart more than once. You can forgive once, but if they hurt you more than once, it’s purposeful.
People with questionable character do not deserve your loyalty.
Never sacrifice the values you grew up learning.
Cherish people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. Sometimes the truth is hard to hear. Someone who tells you the unvarnished truth about yourself or a situation is to be treasured.
Always remember wherever you go and whatever you do, Seniors; your community will always be your home and the people there will be rooting for you to be successful in whatever you do.
Pam Lowe is the newspaper editor of the Clay County Courier in Corning, Arkansas. She is a former educator serving for 20 years as an elementary teacher and Curriculum and Instructional Facilitator. [email protected]