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A Note to Graduates

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The Joy of Remembering Those Who Helped You Along the Way…

It’s the end of May and all eyes are on the graduates, and deservedly so. They have earned the spotlight, taken the tests, filled out the college applications, and done the work they needed to do. It’s fitting that they get a lot of attention and are celebrated for all that they have accomplished. Understandably, graduates are flooded with roller-coaster emotions. They are thrilled and relieved to have summited a peak in their lives, nervous about the unknown future, and emotional about saying goodbye to the familiar, family, and friends. They are trying to get to ten different places on time during graduation weekend. It’s a lot, especially for a young adult. Youth, distractions, and all of these swirling emotions make it easy to understand why graduates often forget a very important piece of the graduation picture: that they did not get to where they are on their own.

Yes, the graduates passed the finals. Yes, it’s the graduates who went to the interviews, did the homework, and suffered the crushing losses on the court and field and then got up the next morning to do it all again. Yes, they alone deserve to be celebrated and feted. Still, when I look back at myself as a young graduate, I wish I had had the presence of mind to think a little bit more about my personal cheer leading team—the team that drove me literally and figuratively to that big day.

If I could talk to my younger self, I would say, “Take a minute to express gratitude to the people who helped you get to where you are today. There are teachers who may have taken a bit more time with you or encouraged a talent. There are grandparents who may have helped pay tuition or supported you emotionally. There are parents who showed up to your games, drove you to school, and nagged you to get your homework done.” I would say, “It does not need to be a speech, just a heartfelt, I could not have done it without you, or, I will always remember your kindness and help.”

So much gets lost in the busyness of graduating, but gratitude should not be one of these things. If you are a graduate and had a support team of any kind, graduation is a time to acknowledge that team. Your team helped you because they wanted to, because it gave them joy to see you succeed, learn and grow. Your graduation is a triumph for them too. And like all real triumphs and joyful moments, the more you share them, the better and more meaningful they become.

May 26, 2015

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