Several years ago, I took my last walk into the university quadrangle emersing myself into the ambiance of the academe and trying to recall great memories of my schooling. It was the last few days before we were officially conferred as graduates. That particular moment was of mixed emotions, of happiness and of uncertainty. Happiness because finally after spending almost half of my life in school, I could finally be relinquished to the real world. But a feeling of uncertainty was also creeping in since I was still unsure of the real world. I have spent the last ten minutes reminiscing the good old school days from elementary up to college and thought that I had indeed a lot of memories to cherish. Afterwhich, I stepped out of the campus and never looked back.
I have recently attended the Moving Up ceremony of my daughter in pre-school and this made me think of the other graduates who will march forward on their own graduation day this year. I recalled a piece in my own valedictory address back in high school wherein I had challenged my fellow graduates to delve deeper into the essence of learning and live it up to attain our own success. I was young then, full of hopes and idealism that our future after 10 or so years will all be bright and beautiful. There were many things that happened since that particular moment and I am pretty sure that my batchmates have long forgotten the four-page speech that I had delivered that night ( to be honest, I myself can only recall bits and pieces of that speech). The real world have long since altered my perception of life in general and I can say that I know better now.
If I’ll be given a chance to re-write that graduation speech and speak it in front of newly grads, I would keep it as realistic as possible, not to kill their hopes but give them a glimpse of what they could expect out of the four corners of the school walls. I have enlisted the three most important things that are not often told to the graduates:
1. School is just another means of obtaining education. Experience is the other half. In the real world, you can only use 70% at most of what you have learned thru the four corners of the classroom but you can always rely on your experience to deal with real life situations. So invest in your schooling but never stop learning from experience. And you can only do this if you are not afraid to fail.
2. Your diploma is not always a ticket to a successful life. To be successful, you must be willing to start from the bottom and work your ass off to be able to inch a notch into the career ladder. And it is never as easy as you have dreamed of. There are a lot of competition out there and the job market is not a stable ground. You might have graduated at the top of your class but chances are, you can end up serving coffee and doing mundane stuff to earn a living. The key to success is perseverance and you need a big grit to be able to level the playing field.
3. You can never fill in somebody else’s shoes so don’t waste your time living other person’s dreams. Decide where you want to go and live the life you want. Follow your intuition and seize your own direction. There are times that you will find yourself in the crossroads and you might decide to take a wrong turn. People around you will criticize your move but life is too short to be afraid to tread your own path. It is better for you to reach the end of the road with bruise and scratch than spend the last breath in your deathbed with the thoughts of “if only…”, and “wish I had…”
So long, graduates of 2014. I congratulate you for MOVING UP and I am hoping that your journey MOVING FORWARD into the real world will be full of wisdom, success and memories that you will cherish for a lifetime.