By Sue Murphy
This is it, my darlings. This is what all of those days and hours and years of study have been for, all of those No. 2 pencils and bell curves and student loans. Every question at the end of every chapter was leading up to this – graduation day.
Back when you toddled off to preschool, you were handed snub-nosed scissors and washable markers and were gently set upon an invisible track. Oh yes, Show and Tell and the classroom gerbil were all part of the plan. At the end of the year, Ms. Anderson handed you off to Ms. Whiffenpoof, and so on and so forth, each year a new classroom, a new teacher, but the same invisible track. All you had to do was finish your homework and stay in line. Almost imperceptibly, you were guided through adverbs and fractions and when i came before e, and if you colored in the right ovals, you were patted on the head and sent forward.
When you reached high school, you were given a few more study choices, psychology or sociology, Spanish or French, but it was a little like a Disney ride or bumper bowling because the track beneath you kept moving forward.
Perhaps you went on to college, where you were offered a plethora of choices (you’ll remember that word from the ACT). You selected a major and a minor and a summer internship. You were given a much wider berth, but still, if you opted to become a doctor, you didn’t have to wonder how to accomplish that. It was all spelled out in your syllabus. You selected a goal from the university’s list of choices and the dean set you on the correct walkway to get there.
Well, dear graduates, I’m here to inform you that the moving walkway is ending. Soon, you will be ceremoniously dumped, cap and gown and all, into the real world, where choosing will be your full-time job. This is scary stuff. I’d go so far as to say that if you aren’t a bit scared right now, you’re not paying attention.
If you paid attention during all of those previous listen-and-repeat years, you’ll come to these choices armed with a bit of knowledge and skill, some rudimentary cause-and-effect guidelines. If you didn’t pay attention, your job could be harder, but here’s the kicker: You still have to do the job. Your Baby Dumpling days are over.
The moving walkway is ending. Right here, right now, is when you stop just being carried along and begin the process of being. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? At the end of your days (And they will end. Don’t kid yourself.), what kind of person do you want to have been? This is entirely up to you, you know. I don’t care what’s happened to you in the past. I don’t care what anybody’s expectations for you have been. It’s your life now. Get out there and live it.
Go, do, choose, but choose wisely. Run every decision through the filter of what you know to be good and true. I hope you choose honesty. I hope you choose kindness. I hope you choose to commit 100 percent of your efforts to something wonderfully high-minded. You’ll mess up from time to time. We all do. But, you will always have the power to fix things and go forward.
So, get out there, graduates. Commence to commence. The moving walkway is ending. Step off and go.