The Goddess Speaks
Try giving advice to graduates
The year was 1984. The setting was my high school graduation from Maryknoll.
Mr. Corcoran, our class advisor, came to the podium to deliver the commencement address. He looked us over, leaned into the mike and boomed, "Sit up straight. Put both feet on the floor."
We laughed and complied.
Beyond that, the only thing I recall was his translation of Maryknoll's motto, Noblesse Oblige: "Much is expected of him to whom much has been given." Maybe it was the graduation cliché of standing on the threshold of adulthood and facing my responsibilities to society, but that part of the speech resonated with me.
Since then, I have added an important note to my file on graduation wisdom, from the widely quoted "Wear Sunscreen" column, by Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune.
"Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out," she wrote. "There's no reason we can't entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates."
She continued, "I encourage anyone over 26 to try this."
Well, alrighty then. Here is the Graduation Speech I'll Never Get Asked to Give. It's a work in progress. I'll write more when I know more. Like when I'm 80.
I graduated from high school in 1984. That makes me 41, which seems old when you're 18, but it isn't. Eighteen seems old when you're 18, but it isn't.
Speaking of age, don't "respect your elders." Not many people consider themselves elder. Treat everyone with respect and you won't have to check ID.
Say please when you ask for something. Say thank you when you get it. It's astonishing how many people skip these steps. Therefore it's astonishing what people in an etiquette-starved world will do for you when you ask nicely.
Reality TV is fun to watch, but it's not reality. Otherwise it wouldn't be on TV. Your real life is much more interesting. Pay more attention to that.
Try. Mistakes are fixable -- eventually and at least partially. If what you did can't be fixed, maybe it wasn't a mistake.
God has a plan. Sometimes it sucks, like when people you love die or children get hurt. But how you react to those things is part of his plan, too. I would say he's tricky that way, but God has always been upfront about how to live so your heart is full, your spirit is strong and your faith is steadfast. His 10-point strategy starts, "I am the Lord thy God ..." If you don't know the rest, Google it.
Sit up straight and put both feet on the floor. Someone I respect said that at my high school graduation. Now I realize why: When you do, you're ready for whatever happens next.
Are you ready?
Camille Domaloan Michel is the communications coordinator at her alma mater, Maryknoll School.
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