June 5, 2018. By Ashley Agnew:

We have finally reached June and the mid-year mark.  Graduation ceremonies are fresh memories for college grads, and commencements are just around the corner for high school seniors breeding a new class of rising collegiate freshmen. With summer mere weeks away, it is the first time for many young adults that warmth rather than crisp-fall air will provide the feeling of new beginnings. Late spring is always a reflective time for me, and to this day the season brings with it a sense of renewal.

This week my husband experienced his own fresh start and has started a new job after serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy. It had been over two decades since he had to write a resume or wear anything to work but a uniform. At the dinner table before his first day we began chatting casually about the unexpected twists and turns that came about for each of us to land just exactly where we are today. The windy roads that brought us here could have never been predicted.

Our son, 11 years old, has just started gaining an interest in college most likely from his newfound interest in NCAA lacrosse. As with most kids his age, when he finds a new interest it is the only topic he wishes to discuss, and it is in turn incorporated into each discussion for the next month (or until the next random infatuation presents itself). Listening to my husband and I talk about our curvy paths, he asked an intuitive question given his latest obsession:

“If you gave a speech at a college graduation, what would you say to the students?”

This sparked a great forum between the three of us as our dinner table transformed from a pedestal for meatloaf to a dais for self-actualization. We learned from each other’s perspectives despite the generational differences and some of their advice is certainly worth sharing:

From my Husband:

  • “Life will keep teaching you the same lesson until you learn it. Listen to the message within your failures.”
  • “Everyone you meet will enhance your life, whether it is through compassion, knowledge, appreciation, or humility. Recognize that every person has worth.”
  • “Commit to doing what you have to do before what you want to do and you will be amazed at how often you can accomplish both.”

From my Son:

  • “Not everything has to be so serious or so perfect all the time. It’s ok if you need a break or help from people who love you.”
  • “There are so many new things to try in the world, but you don’t always have to try them if you think they are very, very scary. A little scary is ok.”
  • “Have your own kind of fun even if other people don’t get it or think you’re weird.”

I love these quotes from two of my favorite guys, and I loved the conversation between them even more. Caught in the everlasting routine of work-week survival, covering anything outside of the daily de-briefing and upcoming to-do lists can be tough to fit in. I had my say as well and shared that if I were to go back in time and give a speech to my graduating class, I would tell them this:

  • GPAs. Honor’s lists. Popularity. It’s all out the door. Now is the time to harness who you have become and prove that you are more than a piece of paper or a valuable perception, but instead a driving force with nothing but potential in your way.
  • Rule out nothing. Every opportunity presented to you is worth examining. I went from running a country club to working in financial services over a cup of coffee at a hair salon.
  • No matter what you do with it, time is going to continue to pass. Don’t be afraid to commit to a goal and just keep moving forward. Make lots of tunnels and it will lead to lots of lights; you have all the tools to dig in.

We scraped our plates, cleaned the kitchen, and my son said that we should find time to talk about our curiosities more often. Out of all the thought-out points arising that night, this heartfelt comment might have been the best one of them all.

Congratulations to all of the graduates who are on to bigger and better things this summer. Stay curious.