It’s the end of June, and that means students are breaking away from their prisons… I mean schools… and making their way back into the sunlight for a couple of months. For some, they are now done with this level of education. They are graduating to life, in whatever form it takes.

I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since I took those last steps out of the hallways of Park View Education Centre just outside Bridgewater, NS.

Seems like a good time to reflect back to those first few steps and where they led me in life, and to maybe share some words for those who are embarking on their own new journey.

be yourself

You are who you are. No one else. Sure you may not be entirely sure who you are right now, you’re still figuring some stuff out. But be true to yourself. Don’t try to fit into someone else’s model. Which leads me to….

follow your heart

Something deep inside you gives you life, meaning, purpose. If you found it, follow it. Even if it fails, it may mean you’ve missed the mark, but that’s ok. If you haven’t found your passion, keep looking, it’ll come to you. I found mine when I was 29. So it’ll come, maybe not when you’d like it to, but it will.

don’t rush

There’s a lot of pressure on young adults these days. There’s a huge push to make sure you get education (little has changed in this area in the last 20 years) which makes you feel like you may be forced to make life decisions before you are ready. This is a very costly thing to do. If you end up in university with nothing but questions about your future, you will end up very deep in dept. If you aren’t sure what you working towards, then step back and sort it out. Take your time. You have an entire lifetime ahead of you, there’s no need to rush into anything you aren’t sure about. And finally I’ll end with…

don’t be afraid to work

This one sounds odd, I know. But realize that your dream job is not your next job. If it is, you won the jackpot and are very lucky. There’s a lot of competition out there for jobs, so you need to realize a couple of things. One: you need to work very hard to get noticed. What I mean is if you work hard and focus, you’ll get noticed; goof around, well, that’s not what we’re looking for in the workforce. Also, don’t be afraid to work less glamorous jobs, it’s all about gaining experience. So maybe selling burgers is one way to start as you sort out what’s next. It was my first job.

In short, don’t sell yourself short. Believe in yourself. It’s probably going to be a rough ride for a while, so be smart and make it count.

If you do, when your 20 year reunion comes up, you’ll look back and smile.

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