First of all, congratulations!
Second of all, you still have so much to learn.
I am 12 years removed from my high school education. When I tossed my square cap in the air and donned that wonderful white potato sack they call a graduation gown, I thought I was so grown. I took only a couple of photos with my friends prior to the ceremony, but after it concluded, I made a beeline for the door. So yes, the picture above is the only one I could find this morning. I was done with high school. I thought I had been well prepared for the world. Man, was I wrong.
The real world will teach you that life is far more complicated than they led you to believe as you studied English, mathematics, social studies, and science. While they drilled into your head algebra equations and MLA format, they probably didn’t prepare you for applying for a mortgage or completing your taxes or a 1099 form. I had no idea what I was in for when I bought my first car, or when my husband and I bought our first house. Life is far more complicated than you might realize yet.
The real world will teach you to have thicker skin. Not one person owes you a thing. You want to be a CEO? You might start working hourly in customer service. You want to be lead nurse? Earn it and prove you are the best. You won’t nail every interview, and you won’t get every job you apply for. Rejection will sting every time. But rejection will make you better if you learn from it.
The real world will show you who your true friends are. I bought so many lies in my college days. And the friends who saw me through those rough days, are still in my life today. But when time is short and priorities shift, friendships will shift as well. And that is okay. You’ll prioritize what you want to make time for. Remember that every time you don’t like the way your life looks: you are the master of your time. You have set your priorities and your life reflects that.
The real world will hold a mirror up to you. You want to be a sweet old lady one day, but Psych 101 will teach you—being a sweet old lady only happens when you’re a sweet young lady. You are conditioning yourself now to be who you will be in 10 years, 20 years, 40 years. Act accordingly.
The real world will shock you. Pursuing your passion isn’t the rom-com you pictured. Dating feels like trying to find a needle in the haystack. Marriage is harder than it ever looked before. Parenting looks more daunting than you could’ve imagined. Your career will suck the life out of you some days and be exhilarating the next. You’ll wonder how your mom and dad could afford so much when you have to foot the bill for your own groceries or electric bill.
And no, I am not trying to paint a bleak picture of life. I’m being realistic. Life has to be experienced in the driver’s seat, and the green flag just waved for you.
Life is hard, but it is also truly beautiful. Your career will mold you and grow you in wonderful ways, and I hope you can use the gifts the Lord has given you to excel in a job you love. Marriage will change you. If it doesn’t change you, you’re probably holding too hard to who you were before you said I do. But, it’ll change you for the better. Parenting is daunting, but it fills your life in so many ways. You’ll find a way to steward the resources the Lord has given you to build a life you are proud of.
If there is one piece of advice I can tell you today that I want you to keep with you forever it is this: the world says, “pursue your passion.” Jesus says, “follow me.” Following Jesus brings life in abundance. He makes the tough days bearable. He takes the joys deeper. The world will ask you to buy many lies, and you’ll soon find out there is no life there. There is no rest in the pursuit of the world. There is rest in Jesus and peace only He can provide. Follow Him, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Congratulations, again. You have much to be proud of and even more to learn. Enjoy that innocence. The green flag has just waived for you. Live a life you’ll be proud of when you finish your race.