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More advice for outgoing seniors – including a tip from Hollywood!

Last week we asked Monitor readers for their best advice for graduating high school seniors – in 200 words or fewer. We were swamped! Here are some more responses. Listen up, graduates!

Take a tip
from Peggy Sue

Congratulations to all graduating high school seniors. You have survived classes you didn’t want to take, played sports and were in clubs with people not in your clique and endured rules about chewing gum, appropriate clothing, appropriate language and teachers you didn’t understand!

Now you can graduate from surviving to thriving. Have you ever seen the movie Peggy Sue Got Married? It’s about Peggy Sue, who gets the chance to go back to high school with all her present knowledge to change her fate. It’s an enticing idea! If I could return to my high school graduation this is what I’d do:

I would dare to be myself without worrying what others thought, because I know in the future I would really like that aspect of myself.

I would speak my mind because I know in the future I would respect myself.

I would meet as many people as possible and find the interesting stories that make them unique because I know in the future the most precious gifts are family, friends, and relationships.

I would communicate honestly because in the future I know I would feel at peace.

Finally, I would just have fun and live! Congratulations!



(The writer is director of the Concord Homeless Resource Center.)

Important poem

My niece just graduated from high school. I advised her to read the poems of Mary Oliver. One of my favorite living poets, Oliver asks this question at the end of “The Summer Day”: “Tell me, what is it you will do/ with your one wild and precious life?” Graduating from high school or college marks a phase change in one’s life, worth taking the time to ponder. What are you leaving behind? What do you hope is ahead? What passions do you have to help you go where you want to go in life? What gifts have you been given? All gifts are not sunny and joyful. Some gifts come disguised as difficulties and darkness. Of what is it time to let go? Grieve what you leave behind. Let go of old patterns of mind and behavior that no longer serve you. Stand confidently in the present, relishing the uniqueness of you. Step into your new life, ready to share your gifts and dreams with the world. We need every one of you.



(The writer is a singer, performer, voice teacher and conductor.)

It’s your responsibility

When I was 18, I wish I knew that my life really was my responsibility. I also wish I knew that how I defined an issue or problem would determine what I saw. I wish I knew that it was my own mind that created the subjective world in which I live, and that the motivation for what I did was just as important, maybe more so, than what I did. More important to the ongoing development of my life that is. I wish I knew that all the life shaping experiences were happening within me, not outside of me.

The externals of life are important, but not nearly as important as what I do with them.

The choices I make are important, but not nearly as important as the motivation from which I make them.

What I receive from life and others is important, but not nearly as important as what I give back.

I wish I knew that what I do determines who I am, not what is done to me.



(The writer is a retiree.)

Change is inevitable

As a new grad, you will discover that things change more frequently than you ever thought possible. Furthermore, these changes will continue to accelerate the rest of your life. Change is inevitable and frequent. But how you react is not inevitable.

Your response will have options. Either you will embrace the change, or you will resist it. Life’s course is defined by the embracing or resisting of the challenges generated by change. Expect the challenges and react in accordance with your values.

Realize each of us confronts challenge, chooses options but discovers divergent results. Accept others’ differences and learn from their choices and outcomes. Your values will change from that garnered knowledge.

Change will come. Accept it. Your reactions to it will change.

Understand its inevitability and embrace it or resist its challenges in accordance with the values you achieve through the course of your life.



Attitude, gratitude

Success and happiness in life have a lot to do with these two words: attitude and gratitude. All the people I have most admired in my life have demonstrated these two attributes.

Attitude is a mental perspective toward life. Having a positive attitude will help you form and maintain relationships and life is all about relationships. Go to work with a good attitude, do your job as directed (even though you might think your way is better), be pleasant, be kind and avoid negativity, rumors and gossip. Do what your supervisor requests of you with enthusiasm and remember that this may be your chance to prove yourself.

Gratitude means being thankful for what you have. Everyone has hardships; some more than others, but everyone can be grateful for something.

Find at least one thing to appreciate every day. Be thankful for the job you have even if it is not what you want to do ultimately.

Young people often get discouraged if they do not have the job of their dreams after high school or college. Be patient in the job that you have and work toward your goal.



(The writer is a retired state administrator and a former elementary school librarian.)

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