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Make Good Choices

To the Class of 2018

My sister, Katie, graduating this past week.

Have any of you heard that new Luke Bryan song? I guess it's not all that new now. It's called "Fast," and it talks about how quickly life goes, and I really appreciate that song. I graduated in 2014, and since then I have realized how quickly life can pass by. My dad once said, "When you are an adult, the days sometimes feel like they will never end, but then you blink and the week has passed. And soon it's been a month, and then a year, and you don't even know where the time has went." 

How right is he? Sometimes, I look at the clock and think, "Wow, it's only ten in the morning! I'm already ready to go back to bed!" But then a week passes and you think, "I still didn't get to clean the fridge, get all of my work done, and go to the store." Then a month passes and you think, "I can't believe my son started walking this month! I can't believe he is already old enough to walk." 

And then a year passes, so you start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you have put on the back burner. You begin to set new goals, and add some of the unmet goals to the new list. Soon the years begin to pass in a sort of haze... 

So to Katie and all of the other graduates this year, here is my advice to you... 

  1. Cherish the moment, take lots of pictures, and celebrate your accomplishments. I don't know about you guys, but I went through a lot in high school. AP classes, some softball, a lot of band (which included a trip to State Finals for Winter Percussion and a trip to Semi-State for Marching Band), parades, volunteer work, studying, failing, studying some more, church, friendships, and relationships. So celebrate your accomplishments because they will shape your future. 
  2. Find something you are passionate about and pursue it! Whatever you pick, whether it be nursing, dermatology, law, criminal justice, or going to a trade school or into the workforce, pursue it with everything you have and don't let anyone tell you that your goals are out of reach. As the saying goes, "Shoot for the moon! If you miss, you will still hit a star!"
  3. Don't be afraid to be independent and learn how to do things on your own. I know it is very scary, but call the doctor's office and make your own appointment! Learn how to smart shop at the grocery, pay bills, get a grasp on your financial aid, buy a car in your name, get your own car insurance, and anything else that you want to do for yourself. Something important that I have learned is that even if you are independent, there is still someone there that is willing to guide you and help you!
  4. Don't be afraid to build, maintain, and establish relationships. I'm not just talking about romantic relationships! I'm talking about having healthy relationships with your friends, coworkers, professors, mentors, and SO's. And if you have to cut ties with someone along the way, cherish the good memories, don't let the past haunt you in new relationships, and continue to pursue new relationships. Some people are only meant to be in our lives for a season to teach us a lesson; learn the lesson and move on! And lastly... 
  5. Ultimately, you are in control of the trajectory your life takes. This may be the most important one listed. There are some things that are out of your control, but life is what you make it! Don't let your past circumstances determine your future. Success stories begin with many failures, so don't be afraid to sacrifice time, sleep, or money to get what you want. I have a friend that recently graduated college as a Mechanical Engineer. This friend would sometimes fall asleep in class because he had to work night shift at a machinery shop throughout college in order to pay the rent at the house he was staying at. He struggled through with car problems, eating ramen for several meals a week, and other things. Oh, and he had to pay the tuition fees every semester for what wasn't covered. Do not let circumstances determine your place in this world; make your own path! 

All of these things are inseparably linked; you have to be passionate about something to pursue in order to determine the direction your life takes. Whatever you are doing, you have to establish some kind of relationship with the people you are around, so it might as well be a good one! You have to gain a sense of independence to choose how your life will go; you can't rely on other people's opinions of your choices. As long as they are good, well thought out, and safe decisions, you are going to be fine. You can't let every input from every individual person influence your life's decisions. And you have to have a base knowledge to go your own way, which is what your high school career is for. 

Before we left her classroom every day, one of my most challenging teachers always said, "Make good choices." We took those words for granted every single day, but now I reflect on them often. If I would have taken her advice, I would have avoided a lot of bumps in the road as an adult. So, you guys... Take her advice. Go out and make good choices.