OK, so I think that most high school graduation ceremonies have already happened. I know I was not invited to be the commencement speaker anywhere. Of course I am not famous, nor even extremely accomplished. I am still trying to get my undergraduate degree, and usually they like the commencement speaker to be a little more educated than the graduates they are speaking to.
So I didn't get the invite to speak this year. Perhaps I never will. That's probably just as well, but just in case there is a graduating class out there, or even an individual graduate, that has not been inspired by the speaker they heard, here are the tiny pearls of wisdom from the mind of Buzz Carter.
1. Do something for someone else for a while. What I mean by that is not that I want you to go down and volunteer at the food bank or the homeless shelter, although that would not be a bad idea. I mean that you should look for something to do that will serve your fellow man, as a priority, rather than as a secondary consideration. Join the military. Find a job at a nursing home or rehabilitation center. Go ask your old high school janitor for a job. (That should open your eyes to the mess he's had to deal with for the last three to four years of your life.) I happen to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints--the Mormons--and if you are too, then go on a mission. But serve your fellow man. Try several different jobs, and see what you like.
2. Learn to take responsibility for your own actions. Be accountable. If you screw up, fess up. Conversely, stand up for yourself: don’t be anyone’s fall guy.
3. When you turn 18, if you haven’t already, register to vote. Learn who your local and national leaders are, and become more than passingly informed on important issues of the day. Then, VOTE. Don’t let the elections pass you by. Don’t vote the way your parents do just because you don’t know what else to do. And don’t let smooth talking politicians sway you with glib voices and clever ads. Do some independent research and some soul-searching pondering. Pray about it, to see if God has anything he can let you know about it. You might be surprised.
4. Take care of your body. Surprisingly, (this part is that new “sarcasm” you may have heard about) after high school is when the adult body can begin to become complacent and lose its youthful vigor and muscle tone. Turn off the X-Box and GET OFF THE DARN COUCH. Put away the PC games and exercise, eat right, don’t drink alcohol or use tobacco. Stay away from illegal drugs. Meth, crack, ecstasy, marijuana and the like are prevalent among America’s youth, but they need not be part of your life. Preventing them from being part of your life will ensure that they are not part of your death.
5. Go to college. Plan to go to college. You should already have applied to several post-secondary schools, and I hope you have chosen one to attend. Take classes you will enjoy, not just ones you will need to graduate. Take fencing, and tumbling, and underwater basket-weaving. Take the ones you need, too. Math, chemistry, biology, English and all the rest. Get good grades. Study. Make friends. Date. College is a whole life experience, not just a school. If you don’t learn anything that you think will help you in your desired career field, do one of two things: change your career field, or chalk it up as a lesson learned that won’t help you in your career field. Just because it won’t help you there does not mean that it won’t help you anywhere else.
6. Don’t live with your parents indefinitely. Move out. Get an apartment or live in a dormitory.
7. Don’t let your parents buy you a car for graduation. Buy your own. But don’t go into debt to do it. Save your money and buy a good used car. Find it in the newspaper, or online. Haggle over the price.
8. Don’t let your parents send you on a trip to some exotic, far-away place for a graduation present. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go to Europe or Aruba, but pay your own way, or at least part of it. And if you do go, don’t spend your time drinking yourself into oblivion, associating with people of questionable character. Remember Natalee Holloway. I place neither judgment nor blame upon anyone in her case, but if she had stayed with a group of known friends, or had not indulged in fraternizing with persons of questionable moral fiber, chances are she would still be with her family.
Your parents will be understandably proud of you, and they will want to get you a gift. Just talk it out with them and don’t’ let it be one of the above things.
I don’t know if these things are worth your time to read or not, but they are some thoughts I think are valuable for young people. Besides, if I can affect even one person positively, then it was worth my time to write it.
Maybe one day, I will actually get to be the speaker.
Nah. Probably not.