Dear Graduates

It took me a little longer than usual to put together my annual post to the Class of 2018 graduates.  Today, I realized why.

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My high school graduation was several (many several) years ago, and our class has just recently decided to start a Facebook group as we look ahead toward our next class reunion!  This was the inspiration for this post.  It has been so fun seeing people re-hash stories from high school, learn about what they are doing these days, and see what memories they share.  One of the coolest things is that people are sharing their photographs from that time! Especially their senior pictures.  It is so profound to me how many memories are locked in our photographs.  Sometimes I don't remember that an event even happened until I unearth a photograph to trigger my memory.  "OH YEAH!  I forgot all about that!"  Or, the only things I really remember are those with photographs that I've looked at many times over the years. Thank goodness for photographs! 

It seems like, for me, the things I remember most are the moments with the highest stakes and strongest emotions attached.  The same way song lyrics or certain smells trigger memories.  Your brain can remember things and create stronger connections when strong emotions or feelings are tied to them too.  Fear, Relief, Pride, Excitement, Nervousness, Disappointment.  It was the times I took the most risk, and was the most invested "in the moment" that I remember these days.  Those watershed, life-changing, impactful moments.  I remember where I was on 9/11 and how that day unfolded.  I remember the nervousness and butterflies of a boy asking me out for the first time. I remember the excitement  and relief when I made the cheerleading or dance team. I remember the disappointment when I didn't get into my first choice college or had a boy break my heart.  I can see through my minds eye each step as I walked through the line at graduation - because a wise teacher told me to take the time to slow down and remember that moment.  I remember the crazy times I threw caution to the wind and stayed up all night for those once in a lifetime conversations with friends before we left for college.  I remember every minute of the anxiety after my parents drove off after I moved into college.  And that's just up through college.  There is so much more that happens after that.  Again, thank goodness for the photographs to help jog my memory for everything else.  The day to day, the real living that goes on when we're not paying attention. 

So here's where my advice comes in.  Live the kind of life that is going to create memories.  The kind that are going to stick and that you will think back on fondly.  Be bold and create a life that is hard to forget.  Do exciting, nerve-wrecking, scary, fun, passionate, challenging, amazing (legal) things.  Do things outside of your comfort zone that make you focus in, and work hard.  Put your heart and soul into something and it will be hard to forget!  This is the time of your life where you still have the time and flexibility to make mistakes.  It's true what they say, "no risk, no reward".  Even if things don't go to plan, chances are you're going to have a good story out of it, and it might open other doors you didn't know about. 

Congratulations Class of 2018!  Live it up!