I can’t believe it, but we have yet another niece graduating (and a nephew graduating from college but he’s not the sentimental type)! And graduation always makes me reflective and feel the need to impart my wisdom. Okay, my wisdom hasn’t gotten me a national TV show or a Pulitzer, but it also hasn’t landed me in jail or on a hit list (at least, none I’m aware of)! So here are a few tidbits I hope our niece comes to learn and maybe you can share these with some kid in your family that listens better to somebody they don’t know! lol. Or maybe you just need your own little reminder:
First off, say farewell to your frenemies. Do it nicely. High school (and the business world and the PTA and the bar) is all about the people you like on any given day, hate on any given day, are jealous of on any given day, and can’t wait to get rid of on any given day. Today, you get to get rid of them. Do so gracefully. Wish them well. Cry over what was and what will be in all its scary glory, and then keep your mouth shut. You don’t have to burn a bridge, you can just choose not take that route anymore.
Old Money is still the best Money
Secondly, remember where you came from. Be loyal. Friends and family are just like clothing. The new is exciting and fun and always nice to have for special occasions, but the old stand-by pajama pants and prom t-shirt from 10 years ago will be comfy and reliable and what you need on a bad day. Same with the people you surround yourself with. It’s okay to have new people in your life, but don’t ditch the old. Dance with the one you came with. They brought you here.
Don’t be a Hater!
Third, the world may be screwed up, but you don’t have to be. I really like that Mother Theresa quote about how the world may hate or do wrong, do good anyway. There are plenty of screwed up people, situations, and moments in life. Rise above.
Better to change your mind than to not use it!
Fourth, it’s okay to change your mind. Not 500,047 times, but when you need to, go ahead. If the major isn’t right, switch it. If the friends aren’t the right circle, ditch ‘em. If the job is somewhere else, try it. We all have a plan. Sometimes, we stay on that path. Sometimes, we take the road less traveled and that makes all the difference… (Yes, Robert Frost, you were right.)
Humble and Kind, just like Tim McGraw says. Please!
Fifth, be humble. Never think you’re better than. There are those that have a lot to put on their résumé and there are those that could but don’t have to. There will always be people telling you how great they are and there will always be people that are just great. Be the great. Don’t think you’re owed anything. Hope floats when you realize your cup runneth over. (Yes, love that movie!)
It all comes out in the wash…
Here’s the bottom line: there will be crappy times when people die, your basement floods, your kid gets sick, and you want to crawl into bed and sleep it off. There will be times when you sit with a drink in your hand, look up at the blue sky, look around you at the group of people talking and laughing with you, and you’ll soak it in. Life isn’t easy, but it is doable.
Take God with you.
Build the right relationships.
Find your little piece of happiness and live in it.
Laugh when the wheels fall off. Then, put ‘em back on and bolt those sonofabitches down and take a roadtrip.
Happy Graduation, little girl! May life always treat you kind…
Any words of wisdom you’d like to share? Any of those ring true with you? Got a graduation you’d like me to speak at? lol. Tell me.
I love to watch graduations! Okay, maybe that sounds weird, but after all these years, that’s one of the few things that has held to tradition. Technology, bad parenting, and global warming have not changed it. No graduation is complete without a little pomp and circumstance (which truly makes it sound official), a shuffling single file line looking like they’re headed for their government cheese, the throwing of the mortar boards, and there’s always that fan with the air horn embarrassing their family member!
After 3 diplomas (that are collecting dust in my basement as we speak), I still love a bunch of supposedly intelligent people “dressing up” in robes, the funny guys that look like they’re naked underneath, wearing bowling shoes or flip-flops, the idea of a fresh start, and the messages on the top of mortarboards.
Yes, of all the things I love about graduation, I love the mortarboards most, probably because I so badly wanted to decorate mine and it was strongly discouraged. We did stupid high-5’s instead. Whatever.
Sure, there are basic ones like putting your name and year on it or some kind of farewell statement like “peace out.” There are Mickey Mouse ear ones, and I think one of my favorite ones I’ve seen was an aggie at Iowa State that made the top of his into a field and had a tractor and plow going across it. Very cool!
Go ahead and laugh, but I’ve actually pondered what I would put on mine. I’m sure my thought process has changed immensely since high school though. I have a feeling mine would have said something about friends in low places. Today, I think I might make my own out of duck tape or it might have a house of cards looking like it’s about to fall. I could go all GaGa on it and put a steak on it. If she can have a meat dress, I can have a meat hat, right? No Dr. Seuss caps for me or “Hire me!” shout-outs. I think I’d be more subtle like “Show me the $” or “The Farmer’s Daughter” or a simple “Count Me In!” Of course, I’m not above a “Take Me to Dinner!” or “Sup?” Then again, I think it would be funny to make it into a board game like Hungry Hippos or a 3-ring circus perfectly fit for my life.
But I’m betting mine wouldn’t be the most noticed, you know there would be that guy who realizes he should put a naked chick on his or Rodney Carrington’s “Show them to me!”
So in honor of decorated mortarboards everywhere (and my nephew graduating this weekend), I need to know what was on yours?
Or what you would put on yours if you had it to do all over again?
Or if you’ve recently graduated from the school of hard knocks or from the 24-35 age group or whatever you’ve “earned a degree in” – what are you sportin’ on your tasseled cardboard?
Twenty years ago today, I graduated from high school. Holy buckets, batman! Twenty freaking years! And if you’re a kid, you’re saying “you’re old” and if you’re an adult, you’re saying “I know. Where does time go? I can’t possibly be that old.” (But you are. If you need proof, we didn’t have internet, cell phones, or boxers hanging out of sagging jeans. Hence, we are old.)
But the good news is, I’ve learned a few things. Now, would I first recommend Bill Gates’ advice on life? Yes. Do I have a few things to add? Yes. Are you shocked? No.
Lesson #1 – Avoid pot-stirrers. They suck the life out of you behind your back. Always surround yourself with good people. They’re damn hard to find, but worth every penny, beer, and bowl of ice cream you have to bribe them with to keep them around.
Lesson #2 – Balance. Sure, it would be smart to balance your checkbook, your schedule, or weight, but really, the way I see it there are the things you need to be doing and the things you want to be doing. Rarely do they mesh so you have to balance between the two opposing sides. If you can do that, you’re effing amazing. Just sayin’.
Lesson #3 – Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, unless of course that forces your hand to donate more to the local 4-H or church, coach a little league team that’s coach-less, or scoop the elderly lady’s driveway. If it’s to buy a pretentious car you can’t afford or put your children in a private horse club because that’s what the snotty bitches at work or next door do, then man up! In the real world, people like other people who have principles and integrity, not stupid sheep baaing at the herd. (Boy, do I hate sheep! They climb fences. They’re loud. Damn lambs.)
Lesson #4 – Be who you are and don’t look too close at it. Twenty years later, I still don’t fit in with the crowd. I still am a little overweight with bad teeth and a smart ass (it’s also big, but I prefer to think of the smart part). On the other hand, I am not so un-okay with myself that I have to have plastic surgery to fix my wrinkle creases on my forehead or suck the extra dimples off my butt. Just don’t stare in the mirror too long or judge your checking account too harshly and all is good.
Lesson #5 – Family first. Hate on whoever you want after that, but spouses, kids, parents, siblings, and whoever else you’re related to should get first priority. Why? Why wouldn’t they? We are often worst to the people who are the closest to us because they have to love us no matter what. Hence, love them no matter what and do what you can to be a member of the family without coddling. Don’t be juvenile and not talk to them. If you are an adult, act like one.
Lesson #6 – Money makes life easier so work your ass off for it. I know they say all that bullshit about money can’t buy happiness and it can’t, but it can buy an easier lifestyle. When you don’t have to panic about money or your health, life gets pretty easy. That’s just a little secret between us though. I wouldn’t want anybody else to catch on.
Lesson #7 – There will always be someone smarter, prettier, or more successful than you, but the flip side of that is that there will always be someone dumber, f-uglier, or more loserish than you… unless you’re in jail for murder or rape, in which case, you’re at the bottom of the barrel. You need more than my life’s lessons, dumbass.
Lesson #8 – Show consideration for others. Pleases, thank yous, sorrys, and here, let-me-take-thats pretty much make you better than most. However, don’t ever think you’re better than everyone else, unless you’re comparing yourself to murderers, rapists, or those stupid people that drive 45 in the fast lane. Actually, it’s probably just best that you don’t compare yourself to others, but if you figure out how to not do that, shoot me an email. Twenty years later, I still haven’t grown out of that one!
Lesson #9 – Age is relative. Lots of people spend the first 21 years wanting to be older and the rest of their lives trying not to be. Personally, unless you were a rockstar in high school, things only get better from there. My teen years sucked. My twenties were frustrating but okay. My thirties: they’re pretty damn good. In fact, you reach a point where you can’t even remember how old you are without having to think about it. And most people won’t care or talk about it too much unless of course you’re a tanned piece of leather hunched over, too thin, and coughing up a lung from emphysema or having a mid-life buying-a-convertible-doing-a-21-year-old breakdown. Seriously. Age only matters to the young.
Lesson #10 – Be selective. Work. Think. Play. Help. Vacation. Love. Just don’t settle for less than you deserve on any front even if there’s pressure from all other fronts. Success is a mind-set and you’re only as good as the decisions you make and the belief you have in what you’ve done. Put that on a Hallmark card and call it advice.
20 years ago today, I graduated from Oakland High School in a place I still call home. Today, I can tell you I’m not rich. I’m not famous. I’m not a good dancer, but at the end of the day, I can walk away knowing I pay my bills, I have Siri to answer my questions, and I have a husband who will probably say good things about me at my funeral…probably. Not bad for 20 years.
Got anything to add? Would love to have you add your lessons learned. Hit the comment button.
Got big plans this weekend? Seems like everybody’s got a Mother’s Day celebration or a graduation party or a baby shower to go to this time of year, but this is the time of year that I feel sorry for those suckers who have to give graduation speeches. I know that’s a select few, but humor me.
Let’s take a quick poll. Who remembers a single word of what any speaker said at any one of your graduations?????? Bueller? Bueller? Yeah, that’s what I thought. You ain’t got a clue!
I mean, if you’re in that position, what do you say?
“Hey suckers, you be outta here!” (not exactly valedictorian material)
Or do you go with the tried and true, “Life is not a destiny. It’s a journey…” (I’m not so silently barfing over here!)
There are those who will go with the “We cannot know what lies before us but together we go out into the world to make it a better place because one person can make a difference…” (Yeah, if you’re Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Aretha Franklin, but you, Johnny, there in the front row, we just hope you are employed and quit picking your nose…)
Some overachiever types will probably think to quote somebody famous or share lyrics from a song: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration according to Thomas Edison” (Yeah, but just make sure your 99% is covered up by some good deodorant because nobody wants a B.O.-smelling genius in the house! And translate that as most of you are going to work 99% of your life so that you can live the 1% of your life that you get time off. Sorry. Just call me a dream killer.)
My personal faves are the ones that start off with, “It wasn’t that long ago that we came together as one in a little room with crayons, Kleenex, nap mats, and Mrs. Insert your kindergarten teacher’s name here with her denim jumper and comfortable shoes.” (Oh yes, that poor woman who had to wipe all our snot, pretend she liked the pictures we drew of rainbows and stick people with heads but no bodies, and probably went home to drink every night to keep her sanity who is now sitting in the audience shocked and amazed that some of you survived to see this day!)
Okay, so I mock the process, but not really. I get it. There’s a whole big world out there that has lots of possibilities for some and even more disappointment for others, and sometimes, it’s pretty damn hard to decipher who’s going to be left standing at the end of the decade. It’s even harder to put into words how some people will work their whole lives and have little to show for it, some will get famous but not be happy, and others will be content in their own little worlds living their own little lives. So what do you say?
Twenty years later, I still don’t know, but please don’t bore us old people. I know you should always say thank you to the people that got you there, and I know you can recount the memories of what makes all your classmates smile and maybe even a few of the people that know you, and I know you should tell people that things won’t always be easy but nothing in life is, and then you quote Billy Madison or break out in a flash mob of I’ve had the Time of my Life or you say “I hope this isn’t us!” and sing a bad rendition of Glory Days or you open up your robe and flash your shirt that says “She’s a Pepper. I’m a Pepper. Wouldn’tcha like to be a Pepper, too?” or maybe it should say “2060 or Bust” or in old-skool Footloose fashion, “2012 kicks A$$!”
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a serious occasion and all, but really, who the Hell is going to remember one word that was said? Unless, of course, you make them laugh… Because how many stories start off with “Remember when Sheri was talking about life being a journey?” No, they all start off with “Remember when Jerry ___________________. I laughed my ass off at that. I will never forget that as long as I live!”
That, my friends, is how it should be done in the world according to Bolton…
(P.S. – best of luck to my friend giving that speech this weekend…)
So it’s graduation for a bunch of kids we remember being in diapers, riding tricycles, and going to kindergarten. I know that Bill Gates has the best graduation speech ever and Buz Luhrmann had that song that we thought was the shit about Always Wear Sunscreen, but I thought perhaps I should throw my hat in the ring.
So I’m just guessing that graduation day was one of those days you looked forward to with the idea that you would, in fact, finally be considered an adult and allowed to do as you damn well pleased. Then, you heard the pomp and circumstance, got panicky, sentimental, and waxed poetic about your childhood before finding a graduation party kegger to relieve all thought. Again, just a guess. And I wonder if somebody had stood up there and told us the important things in life if we would have listened to them? I might have, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it either.
I’m pretty sure none of us have all the answers, and obviously, if I did, I’d have a lot more money and a national best seller, but that would be just too easy, now wouldn’t it? But here’s what I’d say:
Congratulations class of 2011! I’m here today to speak to you not because I’m the smartest person or because I’m a rich person or married to the president. I’m here because I tell it like it is, and this is how it is:
The real world does make you an adult. It expects you to work and clean up after yourself and get some form of education or training or at least a job. And amazingly enough, it expects you to buy your own food instead living in your mom and dad’s basement for the rest of your life and becoming Brad Paisley’s Online posterchild.
Speaking of living with your parents, the real world doesn’t like excuses. You know what I’m talking about, the ones that mom and dad have been making for you for the last 18 years that spoiled you… Yeah, they don’t work in the real world. Nobody in the real world cares whether you have ADD or whether your dog died, they just care that you show up every day, on time, and do your damn job while you’re there. They could care less if traffic was bad, the electricity went off, or if you’re just not in the mood to work today.
Another thing about the real world? We expect you to do your laundry, because honestly, nobody likes a foul-smelling co-worker or friend. You should have outgrown the hatred of baths when you were 13. Plus, we’re not big fans of the sniff test either. It may be okay in college, but after that, it’s pretty obvious whose clothes are wrinkled and a little on the ripe side. Oh, and we’re not gonna like working next to you if you wear enough perfume to be an old lady or enough Axe to be a middle schooler. No thank you. Keep it clean and classy.
As for family, it’s best to forgive and forget and you better damn well hope they do the same! You only get one and they may not be what you would have picked out and you may be ready to run away from them now, but they have the same genetics and you might need a kidney someday. Just sayin’.
Money. I’d like to tell you the best things in life are free, but really, you can buy an awful lot of happiness. It buys you cars that don’t break down constantly. It buys you nice clothes so you look presentable despite your arm-length snake tattoo at a job interview. It pays for your mom and dad’s nursing home care that you never pondered having to pay for. It buys tutu skirts for your daughter and cell phones for your teenager. You know, the one you swore you’d never have because you know how bad you were… Yeah, that one. It buys airplane tickets to visit your sister in California and bologna sandwiches for your sack lunch you take to work so you can afford to go to California. It pays for wedding rings, starter homes, and baby cribs. It pays for all the good trappings in life. And the only way to have it, unless of course you’re the child of a Buffett, a Gates, or a Hilton, is if you work for it. It sounds sucky, but there’s really no better feeling than that of accomplishment.
See, I’m not telling you anything you haven’t already heard, but maybe you just need a reminder that what lies ahead of you is a world far better than what you’ve known with the molds you’re about to break out of. When you walk out that door to wherever you are going, you can start over. You no longer have to be Johnny Pee Pants, the boy who wet his pants in P.E. in 1st grade when Kelsy Rae hit you in the gut with a baseball. You no longer have to be Joe the class clown or Kate the boring studier. You can finally be you and I hope when you get there, you remember who that is. And I hope that the person you become is a good person because life will be full of shitty situations and even worse people, but I hope you’re more than that.
I hope that you want to be the best friend they turn to when things go wrong, or the worker that everybody wants a desk next to, or the guy who makes a lot of money but only uses it to take his kids to McDonald’s and go fishing, or the girl that goes back to her hometown to run for mayor or fix up the main street as a restaurant district. I don’t really care if the whole world knows your name or if you are just the whole world to your mom, son, and your dog, Teddy.
What I do want is to know that you didn’t steal from someone, or shoot them because you didn’t like what they said, or quit working because the welfare check was more than you were making at the QuikTrip. I want to know that you mastered life as it was handed to you – that you didn’t fall apart (at least not for very long) and you had relationships that made someone cry when good and bad things happened to you and you found your way when it didn’t seem like you could. For most people, life isn’t necessarily becoming a rock star or an NFL player, it’s about becoming who you were meant to be and never forgetting where you came from. For I know no greater way to judge a person (which I know I shouldn’t do, but in the real world – it happens all the time) than by the way he treats others in his little section of the world.
So kick off your snotty high schooler shoes, buckle up your big girl and boy belts, and do what you gotta do for the rest of your life with the invincibility, audacity, conviction, and emotion of an 18 year old getting a diploma wearing only flip flops and boxers under his robe on graduation day.