Be the change you wish to see in the world.
The world needs someone just like you.
You are enough.
You’ve got this.
These are all the things I’ve been hearing and seeing in the compilation videos of graduation speeches.
While I think these tacky hallmark card quotes are generally safe words to share with young people, I fear we’ve become a culture that is so focused on making sure our students and 20 somethings feel appreciated, accepted, and valued. In doing so, we fail to see all the things they have yet to accomplish and all the help they’ll need along the way. We don’t shed light on the generations before them that also have something to offer.
We spend a lot of time assuring young people that they’ll be just fine and that their voice matters, and we don’t remind them to look ahead, to keep learning – specifically from people who have been in their shoes (and especially from those who haven’t).
I know it sounds like I’m pointing fingers here, but I’m so very guilty of this. It’s sometimes hard for me to shift my focus from myself and what I think I have to offer. I fail to look ahead and glean wisdom from others – whether they fully understand my experience or not.
One of my college friends joined a small group at church and specifically chose a group of ladies our mom’s age because “there’s more to learn in that setting than in a group of our peers”. When is the last time you asked questions from someone older and wiser than you and genuinely cared to hear the answer?
Let’s set aside the cool wine clubs for an evening. Pick up the phone and call your grandma. Take your mom to lunch. Join a book club with someone even ten years older and see what meaningful conversation you walk away with. You think someone your grandma’s age is irrelevant. You think your aunt is outdated. Think again. There is so much knowledge, poise, and kindness there, friends.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from someone a generation (or three) ahead of you?