Graduating to the Next Step Is a Lesson Learned At a Young Age

by on June 9, 2011

Graduating to the Next Step Is a Lesson Learned At a Young Age

Nineteen months ago I married into a large family.  My wife is one of nine children.  Seven of her siblings are married and they have been blessed with 30 children between them.  When you get to this time of the year, which is graduation season, in a large family you usually don’t have one graduation to celebrate, but instead multiple ones to celebrate.  This past weekend, we honored 6 of the 30 offspring in the family as there was one college, three high school and two elementary school graduations to be recognized.

Graduations can bring about many emotions.  For the student graduating there is often both a feeling of joy and relief to have reached a milestone that may have seemed unattainable when starting a particular phase of schooling.  Parents also feel many things, including pride in the accomplishment, relief over the trials that may have come up along the way and a mixture of happiness and sadness as they see another of their children move from their youth to more and more of a place of being on their own.  And, for others such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, there is a realization of the passage of time, as one they remember as a toddler is now at a completely different stage of life.

When you stop to think about it graduations in our youth are actually preparation for “graduations” later on in our life.  There may not be a ceremony when we get older, we may not wear a cap and gown and a band does not play “Pomp and Circumstance”.  However, the changes we go through, the steps that we take at each phase, are often a graduation of sorts inside our own personal dramas of day to day life.

During our active years in our careers there is movement possibly from one job to another.  If we are with the same organization for periods of time, there are promotions or increased job responsibilities as we move forward with our successes.  In our outside of work life we may start out in smaller living quarters such as an apartment and ultimately save up enough for a home of our dreams.  As we get older still, perhaps at today what we call the midlife or Baby Boomer generation point of life, there are movements into new interests, activities and adventures.  Some of these may have us going from one life we have known to another style completely different from what we have known before.

When we get older we tend to give different names to these changes.  We call them mid-life transitions, retirement, second career planning, etc., but when you take the time to stop and think about it, they’re actually following a pattern that was introduced to us in our youth.  During our schooling we received our first glimpse of what life would be for us, in that nothing stays exactly the same for us as it was before, and that the tendency is to ultimately move on to new adventures, new experiences and stages of life.

Much like when we’re older and face change, the new graduates experience anxiety along with the joy they go through at this time of change.  If they’re continuing their schooling, what will the next level of schooling be like?  If they have reached the point of entering the world of employment, a whole new set of unknowns face them.  When asked, what they expect their life to be like next, there is often uncertainty.  There is hope they are making the right decisions, but no guarantee until they begin that next experience.  It is very much the same as what those of us who are older go through when we make a choice to change what we are doing at mid-life.

However, as we make changes at later points in our life, we have one advantage over the young graduate.  We have been through the process of moving from one experience to another already in our life.  For example, we have taken that step from elementary school graduation to high school or high school to college.  Many of us have been through moves and transitions in our life both within and outside of the working world.  And, while all of those experiences may not have gone exactly as we wish, we survived and learned from them.

Instead of contemplating those changes or transitions and obsessing on the bad things which may happen, take a page from your days as a graduate, or from today’s graduates, and enjoy the moment.  Look forward to that next adventure with optimism and hope.  After all, you have already proven you have the ability to “graduate” to that next great step in your life.

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