Saturday, July 15, 2006

High School Convocation

To all you high school graduates
Here is what happens afterward:
Some of you will go on to community colleges
And maybe University,
And maybe even to a post graduate degree.
Some of you will work
But have no real responsibilities.

Those years will be fun
Regardless of your grades
Or if you drop out
Or if you move from job to job.

At this point in your life
Money will be the bottleneck.
So you will live in apartments or houses
With many friends.
You will party
Lots
On cheap intoxicants
Eat crappy
And have a rich social life
With those who are similarly situated to you.

But when you finally enter the real work force,
For at least the next five years
You will spend your time
Working your assess off
Particularly if you are in
Law, medicine, accounting, business or science.

All of your education
May boil down to working in a small office
Or even worse, occupying a cubicle
In an office full of cubicles.

You will have no time
But to eat, sleep, and work.
You will get by
By being either extremely healthy
Or extremely unhealthy.

There will be no in between.

You will have no social life
And if you are in a relationship
There is a 90% chance it will fail.
Those of you women with children
Will have the choice
Of letting someone else raise them in daycare
Or quitting your job and downsizing
While your husband is the sole breadwinner.
If finances are tight
You will fight.

Eventually you will realize,
Through observation of the “role models”
Levied upon you
By the source of your income’s management
That this is no way to live.
You’ll see that the stodgy old partner
Approaching his or her 50th year in the firm
Always smells of alcohol;that a room
Full of physicians, scientists or lawyers
Quickly sort out their pecking order
Based upon where they went to school,
How much money they make,
And who they work for or who their patron is.
Once the pecking order is sorted
You will kiss the asses above you
And stick out yours
For those below you.

Upon this Epiphany
Your reaction will be
To look for something to do
That permits greater participation in life.
Only by now money is not the bottleneck.
Time is. And you will have extreme difficulty
Finding time to transition
Into a more life fulfilling role.
If you have children
And live up to your responsibility as a parent
It will be virtually impossible.
You will be chained to your job, and hate it
Until your children are old enough
To at least start attending kindergarten.
Your living standard will be high
But still paycheck to paycheck,
Without longterm financial security.
You will not have a nest egg
And will face financial ruin
If any major expense hits
Like illness or loss of ability to work.
Your politics will be to the right of center.
Your home life will be impacted further.
You will be stressed.
You will remember the days before you had kids
When you and your spouse lived in or near the city,
Ate out more than you ate in,
And had more free time than you knew what to do with.
You will want those days.
You will look at yourself
And not know who you are anymore.

Some of you will never escape
And die lonely old and miserable.
But most of you will reach a point
Where it is not too late.
A fork in the road of your life
Where you make the choice
To either lie down
And stay on the path of unhappiness,
Or to cut loose and get your life on track.
You will look at all the speed
The locomotive of your life has built up
And be afraid of a train wreck.
The fall out will be significant.
You will loose longtime friends.
Some family members may disown you.
People will laugh.
You will be afraid
To do
What you know you have to do
To be happy.

This is where I am now.
I took the plunge.
I changed direction.
It was worth it.
I managed it without making a total wreck of my life.
But I have friends who didn’t.
Some of them lost their marriages.
Some of them died before they could fix things.
Some of them have just given up
And resigned themselves to their situation.

So my feedback to you,
As you graduate from high school,
Is to think very hard
About what will be important to you
When you are 40
And obey what you want
Not your friends or your parents.
Hear what they have to say,
But always remember
And be absolutely belligerent
About the fact that you own the decision.
If you don’t know what you want
Or know yourself
Then stop what you are doing right now
And find out before you do anything else.

What will you want?
Only you can answer that,
But for most people it is
Living in a good neighborhood,
Having a decent home,
Being near good schools
And having a family with kids.
Making a decent living.
Playing as much as working.
Simple things.
Things you are trying to break free from now.
But you will come back to them.
You can count on it.

These are all things that most people can accomplish
If they start out on the right foot.
But most don’t.
Instead we get caught up.
We pursue false definitions of success.
And the longer your life train
Maintains that pursuit and builds up momentum,
The harder it is
To change direction.
So I say
Focus on getting the basics in order first
And protect them. Here's a start:
Make sure family comes before all else.
Snuggle silently with your spouse for 15 minutes every day.
Only follow a career path that you are passionate about
And which you can make a living at
To support a family of four.
Learn about money
And invest all you can while you are single.
If I had invested all the dollars I blew
When I was young
I’d have retired well before I was 40.

Best wishes for a good life.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do I do if I have no passions..

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Search until you find them.

12:23 AM  

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