Dear newly graduated or soon-to-be graduates of high school,
If the best years of your life are in high school, you’re in trouble. Don’t get me wrong: I hope your high school experiences were epic. I hope you did the kind of stuff that you’ll one day tell your grandkids, with a glimmer in your eyes and an unmistakable smile, they should never try.
Student athletes who won’t be joining the collegiate athletic ranks, I hope you have no regrets about how you left your jersey behind and walked off the field, court, mat or whatever arena you participated in. The same sentiment applies for members of strictly academic clubs.
But, now that you’re advancing in your life, make sure the best years of your life have yet to come. Don’t be the guy who years from now only talks about his football skills in high school and says, “I’d do anything to go back to that time.”
Sure, I’d love to go back and put on my high school basketball jersey and play another game against our hated conference rival, but I don’t want to give up what I have now to turn back the clock and play 32 minutes of hoops.
After high school, I made a commitment to myself to be better in everything. In college, I was a better student. I have a better work ethic. I’m stronger. And, despite playing less frequently now, I’d tear my high school self apart on the basketball court.
Everything should be a work in progress. When you plateau, consider yourself done. Wake up tomorrow with an attitude that what you do will be better than the day before.
It’s okay to fail, too. Imagine a line chart – yes, that’s one of the things you studied in school that will be useful – and think about a lengthy time period. The line on the chart starts somewhere near the bottom and gradually improves, rising toward the top by the time the time period ends.
That’s the overall trend, though, not a constant. Your line won’t be exempt of dips and dives. You’ll encounter speed bumps in your career and personal life that will impede growth. It’s inevitable; it’s okay. Just do what you have to do to get back up and keep that line angled skyward.
For now, your high school years are hopefully some of the best moments of your life. But, once you graduate, keep your eyes forward and not backward. Make whatever the next commitment of your life, whether it’s college, a job, military enlistment or whatever, the best years.
High school for me was great. I met good people, played a significant role on a successful athletic program and prepared myself for the future.
College was better. I met better people, pinpointed a career and accomplished a lot of goals.
Post-college is the best. After almost a year in Charleston, I’ve managed to have the best time of my life. And guess what? The next chapter of my life, and God only knows what that is, will be better.