New beginnings

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The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Class of 2019 graduates Sunday afternoon. Charter School students have already graduated. Vineyard students who make the daily ferry ride to Woods Hole will graduate from Falmouth Academy on Saturday.

This is a terrific time for all of you.

Get ready for your closeups. You will be celebrated by your parents, guardians, your grandparents, your aunts, your uncles, your cousins, your friends. It’s like a second birthday only with a lot more cash value. (People tend to be very generous with graduation giving, probably because they know how difficult it is to reach the finish line.)

You’ll hear speeches that will talk about the next steps in life’s journey — how this really isn’t the end, but a new beginning. It’s a new beginning that holds so much promise.

Here’s our advice as you don your cap and gown:

  • Enjoy it. Soak it all in. Be present. (Put away the iPhone for a little while and live in the moment.)
  • You will make mistakes and probably have; it’s inevitable. It’s how you deal with those mistakes that matters. Be humble. Be ready to apologize. Forgive easily. Hold no grudges. Be kind and compassionate.
  • It does little good to look back and fret about missed opportunities. Learn from those experiences, but don’t dwell on them.
  • Take chances. Just don’t make them risky ones. You know the difference. Don’t do things that could jeopardize your future.
  • Follow your gut. Too many of us wonder what others will think of our choices. College isn’t right for everyone. Neither is the military. You’ve got to find what it is that motivates you.
  • You’ll meet lots of new people on your journey. Don’t change. Be yourself. Some will accept you. Others won’t. You need to be able to understand the difference.
  • Work hard, but make time for play, too. They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s partly true. But it’s easy to get stuck, and then to get resentful. No one on their deathbed has ever said they wished they worked more. Hike. Fish. Jog. Play music. Find time to do the things that put a smile on your face.
  • Travel. You’ll never have the opportunity to visit more places than you’ll have now. Life can sometimes complicate your plans. But while you’re single and without the commitments that life can bring, you can see the world. Yes, Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful place and someday you may want to call it home. For now, it’s OK and important for you to experience what the world has to offer.
  • Call your mother. No, really. She carried you for nine months. She labored over you. She nurtured you. She understands that you need to take that step out of the nest and fly on your own, but her instincts of loving and protecting you will never, ever disappear. So a call or, better yet, FaceTime will give her a chance to put her eyes on you and make sure you’re eating and taking care of yourself. (And when you’re done with her, have her pass the phone to your dad. He’s in the same boat.)

The Pomp and Circumstance march will ring in your ears for days beyond the ceremony. Eventually it fades into the background, but this will be a memory you won’t soon forget.

Congratulations to the parents who survived 13 years of getting their children out of bed in the morning (especially the teenage years). Congratulations to the teachers and coaches who dealt with all kinds of issues and excuses and persevered to provide the best education possible.

And, of course, congratulations to the graduating Class of 2019. Your hard work has paid off.

So toss those mortarboards to the sky with pride for a job well done.