High school graduation is the iconic event that officially carries you from childhood to adulthood.
Making this transition is thrilling and emotional for all involved. It feels momentous – because it is – yet as time marches on, that phase of your life fades as the milestones of getting older take over.
I’ve covered the Orcas High School graduation for the past 10 years. I’ve watched our local kids receive thousands of dollars in scholarships, tell stories about their friendships, dream of the future and grasp that diploma in their hands. I am always overcome with the shining promise of possibility these island-grown children possess.
They diligently completed senior projects that enriched the community around them; they toiled through years of homework; they navigated social minefields; they played sports; they played instruments; they grew and learned in ways that only young people can. They have the innocence of childhood still glittering on their shoulders as they prepare to tackle grown-up goals. It’s a lovely combination.
Last year, Phil Comito, Orcas High School teacher and senior class advisor, spoke at the senior dinner. He read the lyrics to a Baz Luhrmann song (originally a newspaper column by Mary Schmich) called “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).” It was a popular graduation track when it came out in 1999, and I was reminded of how relevant the words are. I want to publish a few of my favorite lines again because they are good reminders for readers of all ages.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts; don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.
The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults.
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life.
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives; some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.
Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t; maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t;
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40 and maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary.
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body; use it every way you can.
Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it; it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.