Remember when you first learned to ride a bicycle? You were so proud of yourself. The grown-up helped you by holding on to the back of the bike until you felt steady enough to ride on your own and then they let go. It’s how we learned when we were young. Someone, an adult, thought it was time for you to pick up a new skill and they gathered the necessary equipment for you and carved out some time to help you practice, then they let go, maybe you even got an ice cream when it was over. What happens when you want to learn something as an adult?
This is the time of year when teenagers are graduating from high school, young adults are graduating from college, and even four and five year olds are graduating from preschool and kindergarten. Yes, everybody gets a graduation ceremony these days. What about the adults who are living their lives who aren’t in a classroom anymore? We do continue to learn as adults if we so desire. It’s up to us. We tackle new skills and let go of practices we no longer need.
June comes around and the summer sun, in the western hemisphere anyway, brings her searing heat to the daytime skies while celebrities and moguls are giving graduation speeches at major universities all over the country, but there’s no graduation ceremony for you, unless of course you choose to celebrate yourself, and sometimes you need to celebrate yourself. Who even knows that you’re working on things?
You’ve taken the class. You’ve started the program. It doesn’t have to be June. Sometimes only you know the work you’ve done in your life. You’ve finally stopped smoking. You’re eating healthier. You’re exercising regularly. You’ve started meditating. You’re putting money away systematically. It’s time to celebrate your independence. It’s time for your graduation ceremony. You’re the grownup now. You chose to go out and learn something new. You did the research, took the class, got up early or stayed up late, and now you can choose to celebrate.
Cue commencement music. Standing at the podium you begin your speech. “First I would like to thank me for my perseverance and fortitude. There were some rough times, you say as you shake your head, but I pulled through and now I’ve achieved some of my goals. I remember the days when I thought, ”Enough is enough.” I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. It was at those times, in your best preacher’s voice, when I discovered my own strength. Sometimes I needed to rest, so I did, and it was the right thing to do. Sometimes I just needed to cry, so I did, and it was just the release I needed. I wish I could say the path was a straight line, but it wasn’t. And as an adult I now know it never is. I wish someone would’ve told me that earlier, but I doubt I would have listened any way. During my journey, I learned to trust my instincts. I learned to take roads less travelled and I even forged some new paths of my own. I’m fortunate and very grateful to stand here today in front of you, a little older, a little less naive and a little weary but genuinely happy that I chose my own road and I stuck with it. Congratulations to me and to you for living your life on your terms. Celebrate your personal milestones whether you’ve chosen to share them or not. Do your happy dance and celebrate.