An Open Letter to Graduates

by Alan Eggleston

I don’t rise to the level of commencement speaker, but let me share some thoughts with you as you finally graduate.

First, let me congratulate you on your achievement.

Whether you are graduating from college or from high school, whether you are graduating with a diploma, a certificate, an advanced degree, or a GED, you just did something totally amazing. After a long period of study and the discipline of consistently meeting class requirements, you showed you are ready to move ahead in life. Job well done!

Second, let me give you a little life advice.

From here on in, you will be working for a living. Yes, you may get a little break after studying to relax. You may have to job hunt for a bit. You may even have to take on something temporary before you find the job you actually want or studied for. But eventually, you will be working earnestly to make a living. That’s just the way life is.

Likely what most of you found was that in studying, you got to explore a lot of new things. Some of them were boring, but some of them were also very interesting. They piqued your curiosity, which should have been the fun part of going to school. And when you graduate from school, that shouldn’t be the end of exercising your curiosity.

Curiosity is a creative process. It is exploring the unknown. It is discovery and the joy of becoming something that you weren’t before.

If you are fortunate (I don’t believe in luck, so I say fortunate), you will get to work in the field in which you studied. If you aren’t so fortunate, you will end up in a job that has nothing whatever to do with your field of study. Granted, for some of you that may serrendipitously be a good thing. But after you spent all that money, you probably would like to end up working in the field in which you studied, even tangentially. But if you aren’t so fortunate, that doesn’t mean you have give up learning more about your field. And if you are fortunate enough to work in your field, it shouldn’t mean you have arrived at the penultimate place in the universe – there will always be more to learn.

My little bit of life advice is to never stop learning, never stop exploring, never stop being curious.

Every one of us has something in life we have always wanted to do. For some of us, it is doing what we will be doing as a profession. But for others of us, it is some far flung dream or obsession. Maybe it’s to travel the world, or write a best-selling novel, or go on an archeological dig, or create a sculpture, or climb Mount Everest, or cure cancer. Each of us has something that we always wanted to do. We are deeply curious about something, about trying something, about experiencing something, about doing something. And we ought to do it at some point in our lives.

My challenge for you is to write down what that dream is and make it a goal in your life to do that one thing – sooner than later.

Too many of us get that first job or start that first career and lose the vision for that one big dream and then fail to ever achieve it. And that’s a shame.

You are graduating from school. All that time spent learning was more than sitting in a classroom being babysat while your parents worked. It was learning how to use a set of tools that can help you explore your curiosity and give you access to that dream.

Sure, go out into the world now. Get a job. Make some money. Have a home. Start a family, if that’s your thing. But never give up on achieving that dream – your dream. If you write it down now and keep it in front of you, just as you are graduating now you will surely achieve that dream.

Like your diploma or certificate or degree, you will earn it. It will be your achievement.

Life’s dreams. Don’t live life without one.

© 2015. Alan Eggleston. All Rights Reserved.

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