Falling Forward

“Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward.” – Victor Kiam

When I get geared up about something, it’s hard for me to stop until I feel like it’s all out of my system. Beyond hard.

One of the things that gets my blood pumping every time is the topic of work ethic and responsibility. About a week ago, I was particularly frustrated about the lack of work ethic in the upcoming generation and (as usual) I got myself in a knot about it until I finally got it out of my system. This time, it was in a letter to the editor of our local paper, directed to the graduated class of 2013.

In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best form of communication to a generation that probably doesn’t read the newspaper, but hey, it got it off my chest. If it reached one young adult and made a difference, then I’m happy. Enjoy.


Dear Graduates,

Congratulations. You finished high school. You survived the cliques, the social pressures, the bad teachers, the long hours, the testing and the drama.

Welcome to adulthood.

It’s not a scary place, you know, in spite of what people may have told you. It is, however, very hard. Here in adulthood, you don’t have anyone holding your hand, telling you what to do or doing anything for you. You are responsible for you.

Maybe for you, adulthood has some meaning of “freedom.” That above list means that you’re free from parents, teachers and higher authority. You can do what you want! But trust me, when you really understand and appreciate what being an adult means, you will look back on those high school years and realize how easy you really had it. And you’ll want it back.

You see I became an “adult” at a very young age. When I graduated from high school, I had a full-time job at a local copy shop. I bought my own car with my own money. I was paying for my own car insurance, phone, food and soon, my own college tuition.

About a year later, I moved out of my parents’ house. Not into a fancy dorm room – I found roommates and got an apartment. I paid for my own rent, electricity, water, groceries, gas – the works, all on about $1,500 per month.

But being an “adult” doesn’t mean you pay for everything yourself, cause that’s just a (very important) part of it.

Being an “adult” means you have to make choices. Sacrifices. Be responsible with your time and your money. Work your butt off and prioritize. Learn what it means to give up what you want to do for what you need to do. Every decision comes with a consequence, and yeah, sometimes it stinks.

I know what it’s like to have past-due bills … and I know what it’s like to come home with electricity turned off. I know how it feels when your friends don’t bother to invite you out anymore because you’re always working or going to school. I know what it’s like to spend four years working on a two-year degree because you have to work long hours to pay for it. I know what it’s like to look at the bank account and wonder how you’re going to make it one more week

But I also know what it feels like to look at my life and have a strong sense of accomplishment. I know what it’s like to stand in front of politicians, business owners, city officials, school administrators and community citizens and believe in who I am and what I can do. I know how it feels to be broken, tired, ready to give up and look into my Dad’s tear-filled eyes as he says, “I’m proud of you.”

I’m no superstar or gold medalist in anything, but at 21 years old, I’ve won something better: independence.

And, my dear graduates, if you’re not experiencing that, you’re not in adulthood yet.


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