Each year, I like to watch snippets of commencement addresses given at various universities as their students go out in the world. Such speeches always fill me with optimism about the future. So I thought why wait until I am asked to give one? Here is the Jolly Librarian’s advice for 2011 graduates:
- Be determined to succeed. Studies show that it’s not just intelligence that determines success, it’s determination. Develop the ability to keep going after setbacks. Don’t be embarrassed by your mistakes. Learn from them and move on.
- Determine your own definition of success and live up to it. Too often, we try to live up to our parents’, our friends’, or our cultures’ definitions of what it means to be successful. Sure, you can buy the car that makes people on the street drool, but if this not really how you measure success, then the thrill will wear off pretty quickly. Think about what makes YOU happy and fulfilled and then go for it.
- Live within your means. Credit is easy in our culture, but paying it off is not. One of the few things I know for sure in life is that there is a great deal of comfort and peace in knowing that you can pay your bills each month. So start now in making a commitment to paying off debt if you have it and not accruing it if you don’t.
- Never stop learning. College, in many ways, is not the end of your learning experience, but the beginning. If your professors have done their jobs well, you have become critical thinkers who know how to learn independently. Use those skills for the rest of your life. Learn a new language, a new computer program, or a new tennis swing. Learning keeps your brain sharp and makes you a more interesting person.
- Play everyday. I have a five-year-old friend who, of course, does this naturally. I can’t visit her for more than a few minutes without our going on the swing, playing dolls, or having a dance concert. It’s easy to lose that sense of play. But don’t. In fact, this year, at my advanced age, the Jolly Librarian has developed a picture-of-the-day game on Facebook. Everyday I post a picture of myself, usually in some absurd situation. Is it dignified? No. Is it fun? Yes.
- And the most important thing is to enjoy the ride. Time will go by fast, and in a rush to start careers and families, it’s sometimes easy to let the days slip by. Experience each day as it comes, and try not to spend time wishing that things were different. Wishing is not work. If things do need to be different, determine to make them so.
And take time to celebrate your accomplishment. You’ve earned it!