Congratulations graduates! What you’ve achieved is the result of years of determination, and your celebration is well deserved. Graduation isn’t the finish line though, it’s merely the second lap. Here are nine truths that may be hard to accept but will help you flourish in the next chapter in your life:
1. Growing up comes by making a decision, not by celebrating a birthday. Maturity and truly acting like an adult isn’t something that magically happens when you celebrate an 18th or 21st birthday. It’s a conscious choice. You grow up when you choose to grow up. It’s that simple.
2. Life isn’t fair. Get used to it. There are going to be things that happen that just don’t seem fair. The reason they don’t seem fair is because they’re not fair, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. Fairness ended in the Garden of Eden when sin entered the world like a grenade going off. Life stopped being fair a long time ago.
3. If you work hard, you’ll be ahead of 90% of the people out there, because they’re lazy. Success in many ways can be boiled down to work ethic and perseverance. Most people don’t work hard enough or long enough to be successful. If you can master those two things, you’ll see most everyone else around you in the rearview mirror.
4. You’ll learn more from failure than anything else. Working hard doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, failure is an absolute prerequisite for success, because you’ll learn more from your failures than any of your successes. Success doesn’t mean never getting knocked down, success is the willingness to keep getting back up.
5. If you’re waiting for life to be handed to you, you’ll be waiting awhile. Entitlement is a killer in life. If you had everything handed to you as a child, your family actually did you a disservice because they did not give you an accurate picture of how life happens in the real world. The only place where everything is planned out and given to you is prison. Everywhere else you’ve got to work to achieve your goals.
6. The choices you make today will still affect you 10 years from now. Your choices have consequences. Your decisions have a ripple effect that will still be making waves a decade from now. For instance, you can only have one first marriage. Think it through. Choose wisely. Every choice has a consequence, some of which will follow you for years.
7. Love is a choice, not an emotion. This season will be the time that you look for love. But there’s an incredible difference between infatuation and love. Infatuation is a blast. The emotional rush is unparalleled. But it’s not love. Once the emotional rush wears off, the hard work of sacrificially loving begins. What you’ll discover behind the emotional rush is a deep-seated sense of contentment and fulfillment that comes with a relationship that stands the test of time. It’s there, if you’re willing to work for it.
8. Money will never equal happiness. Those 80,000 advertisements you watched as a kid all tried to sell you one overarching narrative, that money equals happiness. It’s a facade. Money will never equal true and lasting happiness. Sure, it will give you a momentary emotion that seems like happiness, but it will disappear as quickly as your money. If you’re looking for true happiness, you’ll have to look somewhere else other than money.
9. Significance begins when you get over yourself. The value of a life is determined by how much of it you give away. As Jesus said, it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. There is an incredible life of significance waiting for you out there, but the first hurdle you’re going to have to get over is yourself. If you can remove yourself from the center of your universe and replace it with something (or someone, hopefully God) much bigger than yourself, then life will go to a whole new level.
I know these truths are hard. It takes most people years to figure this out. Some never do. If you can learn these truths now, life will be much better for you in the real world. Good luck!
QUESTION: What other hard truths would you share with graduates?