I am not wise enough to be invited to speak to graduates of any kind. Not preschoolers nor kindergartners, nor eighth-graders, and certainly not the grades beyond. That doesn’t mean I’m going to withhold such advice. I work with and write about teens on a daily basis. Therefore, I guess these words are best suited for them, but really, if you think your newly minted first grader could use to hear this piece, please sit him or her down and read:
I am a fan of quotes. On the wall of my classroom I have the famous, “To thine ownself be true.” I also have the lovely, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Both speak to identity and accepting one’s. But I’m not going to write about that. Because identity is forever shifting, and while I agree with embracing who you are, I think that a broader acceptance is necessary.
“Embrace the Chaos.”
That is my advice.
Here is why:
- Fighting is futile. The world will always be in an upheaval. If you cannot accept that “the only constant is change”, things might get difficult.
- Acceptance does not mean defeat. Just because you do not fight does not mean you cannot win. In fact, you have a greater chance of succeeding when you accept, “It is what it is.”
- Everything is broken. So fix it. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
- Everything is blossoming. Because on the flip side of the wreckage, something new is always born. Tend to the blossoms, because there is “the desperate assumption that somebody… or at least some force – is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.” Be that assumption.
- Fail. And not just fail a little bit, but fail hard. You learn nothing more rapidly about yourself than by how you react to failure. It boils down to one premise: “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
And yes, some of this wisdom might seem contradictory. But that is life. This is the chaos I speak of. I can guarantee that you are more likely to see contradictions than you will certainty. Because nothing is certain, and that is why the sooner you get on with embracing the hectic swirl, the better off you’ll be.
Do not get lost in it. Rather, find yourself. Then accept the myriad ways that your “self” will be tested, and may change.
Embrace the Chaos.
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”