To the class of 2017:
As you head out into the real world, whether it be escaping high school or finishing up a college degree, here are a few things to keep in mind as you dip your toes into real life experiences and go out in search of the American dream.
The American dream means nothing if you’re not a good human first. This is so very important! If you’ve made it to the top of your game and you’re taking all the wins and making impressive leaps up the proverbial ladder but you fail to be a good human first, what have you gained? If you’ve trampled over others on your climb to the top, or cheated on your spouse, neglected your children, and looked down on those around you, have you really achieved success?
What if you finish your schooling and never attain a job in your field? So, you end up spending a lifetime carving up wood or working in a factory or flipping burgers at the local fast-food joint…but you go home to love on your family at night, pray together, and serve those around you. Is that not success?
Of course, it’s possible to have and be it all or just the opposite but it’s imperative to put the focus on being an asset to society first. Seriously. Love your neighbors (even when it’s hard). Have patience with children (you were one once). Show compassion for our sick/elderly/homeless (you might just find yourself in their shoes one day). Hold the door for others (and say, “thank you” when it’s been done for you). If you see garbage on the ground, pick it up (without asking for praise). And for the love of everything holy, return your cart to the cart corral when you’re finished with it (our cars will thank you).
On a similar note: And this is something that really gets under my skin. Every job deserves respect. Every. Single. One. We need doctors and lawyers and bigwig CEOs, but we also need construction workers, factory laborers, pilots, teachers, accountants, cashiers, truck drivers….we need them ALL. It would be silly to assume otherwise. Imagine how quickly things would come to a screeching halt if all those blue collar workers quit showing up for work. So, if that’s the route you’ve chosen or things haven’t worked out as planned and that’s the road you’ve been forced to take, know that there’s no failure in that.
Either way, keep in mind that the road is long. Very few successes happen overnight. So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see notable progress right away. Keep working towards whatever goals you’ve set. If you come to a crossroads, don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled. We’ve done a lot of that here at Loving Life Outside the Box. I can tell you personally, that taking the scenic route isn’t always easy but it sure is beautiful.
Know that mistakes happen. You’ll make tons of them. Those around you will misstep in a way that affects you sometimes too….things outside of your control. It’s imperative not to lose yourself in any of that (and it’s easy enough to do). Remember that nonsense happens to EVERYBODY. If you’re feeling blue and like the world is falling in around you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Tag a friend. Find a support group. Do what you need to do to pick yourself back up. Don’t allow a snafu or two to be your final undoing.
Be kind always. You never know what sludge-infested swamp someone is trudging through and it would be a shame to be the final nail in their coffin because you chose to be a nasty Nellie when you could have just been nice. It takes so much more energy to be a miserable wretch anyway, so make it a point to be pleasant.
And finally, take the time to love life. Work hard, be a good human, volunteer when you can, but don’t be afraid to take a break. Drive across the country at least once. Camp out on a beach and take in some vitamin sea. Climb mountains. Visit other countries and soak in their culture. And never, ever stop learning.
Best of luck to you all!
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