We all have defining moments in our lives that help shape our future as well as our memories. Some happen by chance, but others are an eagerly anticipated part of life. Marriage. The birth of a child. And graduation from high school.
In the coming days, Pinkerton Academy and Londonderry High School hold graduation ceremonies, and send hundreds of students off into the next phase of their lives. It’s an ending, no question, but it’s a remarkable beginning as well.
From a parent’s perspective, graduation is an in-your-face reminder of the all too quick passage of time. The trusting eyes of a newborn and the small hand held on the first day of school now belong to a young adult – likely taller than his or her parents – who wears a cap and gown and walks confidently across the stage to accept a high school diploma.
We rarely see ourselves getting older, but there’s no denying it when you hear the name of your child announced as a member of the graduating class. For the graduates themselves, this moment marks the end of “childhood.” While they may never have it so good again, the graduates are now officially on the path to building a life of their own, whether the next step involves college, work, travel, or military service.
They’re on the doorstep of being responsible for their own decisions and for what the rest of their life becomes. On a small scale, that may mean preparing their own meals and getting somewhere on time. But on the grand scale, it translates to setting personal goals and developing a path to achieve them, then setting out on that path.
It’s exciting – and it’s serious business. The life we make for ourselves – on our own – is the only one we’ll have.
Just as it is for parents, graduation is a rite of passage – that’s what all the robes and decorations and parties signify. It isn’t called commencement by chance. It’s the beginning of the rest of your life. Not much is more exciting – or scary – than that.
Our advice? Consider where you want to go, literally and metaphorically, as well as where you’ve been. Think of what has gone into all the years that brought you to this wonderful occasion. Be safe. Be bold. And don’t forget to thank those who helped you reach this landmark, even as you focus on the future. Congratulations to both parents and students, and best wishes for what lies ahead.