Dear Graduates: Be Prepared to Grow

Originally published on May 16, 2018 by The Montrose Daily Press

It is my assumption that most of our graduates do not read the newspaper. So, I am counting on you all to take this information and disseminate it to someone you think might find it useful.

To the graduates:

The next 10 years of your life are designed for messiness. Go into it knowing you will get your heart broken, you will make big mistakes, you will change your mind often and you’ll experience failure. Go into it knowing those heartaches, mistakes, changes of direction, and failures will lay the groundwork for future wisdom, success and appreciation.

You are about to dive into a whole new chapter of your life, and so is everyone else around you. Your friends are likely going in all different directions come fall. Your parents are preparing for your transition into the world. If you are in a romantic relationship, know that it will look very different twelve months from now, if it survives at all.

Picture your life in ten years. Write yourself an email and detail what life looks like. You wake up on May 16, 2028. You’re approximately 28 years old. What is your home like? What are you doing with your life? What dreams of yours have come true? Paint the picture with infinite detail.

Revisit your letter every year. Make decisions that take you closer to those dreams. Say no to things that take you farther from those dreams. Have grace for dreams you thought you had, but that may no longer serve you. You might be surprised what you can pull off through this exercise. Repeat every ten years.

The coming years will show you who you are. Though you think you know now, I can promise you do not. You’ve been immersed in the beliefs and culture of those around you and your vision is limited. There is a great great world before you. When you go to college, join the military, or leave home with no particular destination in mind, you will find “your people”. One day you will wake up and discover you finally feel accepted for the differences you were rejected for in high school.

Realize you will drift away from your best friend. You will drift away from your boyfriend, girlfriend, parents, siblings, and everyone who is important to you. In some cases this is healthy. Learn to be okay with it and do not force relationships that do not build you up. You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. On a constant basis, you should evaluate that equation and how these relationships are serving you or destroying you.

All relationships are two way streets. Some are worth fighting for, some are worth letting go. Your 20s are designed for learning the difference between the two. People are in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Every person you love will fall into one of these categories. Few will fulfill all three.

Professionally, you might become a doctor, a trash collector, or a professional homemaker. No matter where you go, the following advice remains the same:

The secret to career success is taking advantage of opportunities when they come your way. It is telling fear to shut up and making the move. You will never be freer and more resilient than you are during this phase of your life. So take the risk. Make the bold move. Difficult decisions are only hard until you make them.

When people say you can’t, do. When you color outside the lines and someone corrects you, this is for their comfort. Not yours. Color outside the lines anyway. Be okay with listening to different perspectives and be okay with reforming your belief system based on who you are, not based on what you’ve always been told.

If you want to have success in your life, never stop reading. Always question the process. Never turn down an opportunity to travel, even if it is to a work conference in Columbus, OH (no offense Ohio). Reading and travel will teach you more than anything else you will do. There is always something to be gained from new experiences, new people, and seeing new parts of the world.

The bad bosses of your life will teach you just as much as the good ones. Endure the discomfort. Your future self will thank you.

In the time you have before you dive into the “real world,” spend time with your parents. In the span of your life, you’ve already spent as much time as you ever will with them. Be delicate with their feelings of sadness, pride, and loss. Someday you will look back and realize how wise they really were.

Life will sometimes have a way of kicking you right in the unmentionables. Therefore, when good things happen, no matter how small the significance: celebrate. Celebrate raises, promotions, big projects you complete. Celebrate the achievements of those you love as well. You will never regret this practice.

Have grace for yourself as you are about to do more growing than you’ve ever done. Failures are pathways to success. Discomfort is a sign of growth. And as soon as you find yourself doing exactly what everyone around you is doing, it is time to change direction.

Good luck.

Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose. Contact her at chelsea@montrosechamber.com.