EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s editorial has been adapted from one that originally ran May 28, 2022.
West Virginia University sent off its graduates last weekend, and next weekend, area high schools will be sending off theirs with much pomp and circumstance. So we have some words for them:
Life is a journey with many destinations. Each milestone is a steppingstone to the next phase. Some phases last longer than others. Some are more pleasant than others. Some phases end with a bang, while others transition so seamlessly you don’t even realize you’re onto the next part of your journey.
For high school and college graduates alike, leaving school is your first sojourn into adulthood.
For those leaving high school, this is an especially strange time. You’re legally an adult, but much of the world still sees you as a kid — and you probably still feel like one. Especially for those continuing their education at a university somewhere, this is the time to experiment with adulthood: living on your own or with roommates, making decisions for yourself and exploring what it means to be independent. For those leaving university, you’re now faced with “real” adulthood: no school — just work, bills to pay, etc. At either stage, you might be living back home or going out on your own and fending for yourself. However, just because you’re technically a grownup doesn’t mean you can’t lean on the more … experienced adults in your life.
But some of you grew up fast, and you’ve already shouldered adult responsibilities. We wish we could tell you it gets easier. The responsibilities never end, but you eventually gain perspective, wisdom and confidence that make facing challenges a little less scary.
If there’s one piece of advice we can give, it’s to live in the present with an eye on the future. So when it comes to the big things — going to college or going to work, applying for jobs, financial or health decisions — think about how each one will impact your future. Can you afford to take out those student loans? Is college right for you? Is this job right for you, at least for now? (And despite what you may have been told, it’s OK for your work to not be your passion. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your job and your favorite things separate.) But don’t forget to live in the present — to spend time with friends and loved ones and to take time to do the things that bring you joy. Don’t be so focused on what’s next that you let what’s happening now pass you by.
It’s not unusual for graduates to be gifted a copy of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” or for its words to be incorporated into commencement speeches. Like many of Dr. Seuss’ books, it may have been written for kids, but it carries some universal wisdom for all ages.
The world is full of possibilities and now, perhaps more than ever in your life, all those possibilities are open to you. It’s as wondrous as it is frightening. You can move mountains — but you’ll also hit slumps. You can go and go and go — but your peers may outpace you. You have infinite roads ahead to travel — but not all of them are good, and not all of them are meant for you.
Oh, the places you’ll go on this journey called life.