My daughter Emily is (was) a high school senior this year, and I just attended her graduation and an orchestra banquet over the weekend, and a lacrosse banquet a couple nights earlier.
As a parent, you attend these events and sit and watch with pride at what they have accomplished and amazement at how fast the time has gone. You can't help but marvel at how wise and insightful these young people are yet, at the same time, think about how many lessons and experiences await them.
One of the student speakers at the graduation commented on how we tend to mark our lives by the "firsts" and by the "lasts", not stopping to always appreciate or remembering all the things that happen in between.
When you think about it, that's where life is lived, "in the middle". However, maybe because they seem more exciting, we make our plans for firsts and lasts, not the middles: our bucket lists of what I will do, our resolutions of what I will stop doing. And, probably for the same reason of it seeming more significant, we tend to give advice based on those same firsts and lasts: "you will be more successful if you start doing this" or "you will be more successful if you stop doing that". But, what about advice for the things that happen in the middle?
How often do we think to ourselves, "if I only knew then what I know now"? Most of what you know isn't about a "first" or a "last", it's about the knowledge gained from the experience in between. It is the things that happen in the middle that truly shape us and make us who we are.
So, would you do me a favor? Would you share one little nugget of your "in between" advice to be passed on to the class of 2013? I'll go first.
To Emily and the rest of the class of 2013, my advice is to push your boundaries of comfort and allow yourself to fail. The adults in your life (parents included) have probably done you a great disservice by not allowing (or even encouraging) you to fail. Pushing comfort boundaries and embracing failure is what will make life richer and more interesting. This isn't just about tackling new firsts at which you may fail, but more of not taking the safe route once you start something new. Regrets in life are inevitable, but you will almost regret the things you don't do far more than the things you did.
And, if you haven't had a chance to attend a banquet or graduation lately, I will assure you that our future rests in very good hands.
Now, back to that favor. What advice will you offer?