North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL


May 29, 2014

Danielle Cater: Graduation leads to hard decisions

AN NJN EDITORIAL — The caps and gowns are ordered, the invitations have been mailed. Checks are being written all across the country, it must be graduation time.

I read a card this past week that sums it up pretty perfectly. It simply said, “Congratulations on completing the easiest portion of your life.” Yes seniors, the past 12 years have been hard. You probably had tough days, even cried over a few tests, but the stress of high school pales when compared to the stress of being the man of the family or having to balance a full-time job and motherhood.

Sorry guys, didn’t mean to burst any bubbles. But the truth of the matter is that you’re still living very sheltered lives. Your mommy and daddy are probably still paying a majority, if not all, of your bills. They probably own the house you live in and the bed you sleep in, and their money probably bought the clothes you are wearing. So, can we agree that you are sheltered to an extent?

Now that we have that part taken care of, let’s talk about direction and your future. I’ll admit that you are about to make some life-changing decisions that I would never want to have to go back and do again. This is where the stress starts packing on in your lives, and that comes with good reason. You’re choosing your career path for the remainder of your life. You’re deciding whether you are going to keep your roots close to the family ranch or if you are going to spread your wings and fly. You’re choosing the college you’ll be attending for at least the next four years and the major that will clearly direct a huge part of your life.

Yep, you guys do have it tough. I don’t envy you in that part of it. But I do miss summers. I miss getting to check out, mentally and physically, for two or three months out of the year. I miss not having deadlines for months at a time also. Oh yeah, when you get a real job, there will still be deadlines. There will be bosses who are so much worse than your least favorite teacher, and there will be no P.E. or study hall in which to rest your little noggins.

Of course, most of you already know this. Most of you already think you know it all. But the older you get, the less you know. So enjoy these years of self-assuredness. Enjoy being the master of your own domain; of being able to have the freedom to do, whatever you want to do whenever it suits you. Responsibilities and life are just around the corner, and they slap hard when they slap you in the face.

I know it sounds as if I’m being hard on our seniors, probably because I am. I was told my whole senior year to just enjoy myself and have a good time. But when I got done with high school I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I had no real direction in my life. After a short stint at a college in Nashville, Tenn., I realized what I absolutely did NOT want to do with my life, but still had no good answers.

I’m in my 30s now and I’m just now starting to settle in and make a good life for myself. How I wish I had known where I was going when I walked across that stage in 1998. I would have still made plenty of mistakes, but at least I would have seen my future and known what my goals were.

Many of you already know what your major is going to be. Many of you already know who you want to marry, but I am urging you to make sure you are making smart decisions and that you are following God’s plan for your life and not just the card that’s been handed down to you.

If you are sure of what you want for your future, don’t let anything stand in your way of being what you were created to be. If you are still unsure, take a step in the direction that you think may be right and if it seems to open doors, then follow them. But if every door is shutting, perhaps you should redirect your steps.

A few simple words of advice would be to listen to your parents. They probably truly know you better than you know yourself at this point in the game.

Follow God’s leading and direction. He has only the best plans in store for you and He really can be trusted.

Stay based in your church. I know it sounds preachy, but a firm belief will stand when everything else seems to be failing around you. You’ll do fine in life, but you have to keep your eyes set toward what you want out of life.

Congratulations to our graduating seniors. You completed a hard task by finishing your high school years. Now let’s see how you flourish in college. We need good, hard-working young people to come up through our work forces, and I’m pulling for you guys!

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