Once I walked across that stage and received my diploma, my life would be forever changed. I purchased my graduation cap and gown, invitations were mailed, I even had my hair newly-permed for the big event (this was 1979, after all). I waited for high school graduation (some students worked for it — but I simply waited) for 13 years and I had BIG expectations of what life would be like the morning after. I loved high school: I was very involved, had good friends, enjoyed my church, and drove a red Ford Pinto — what more could life offer? However, in a lot of ways, I felt like high school graduation would change life from black and white into Technicolor.
Graduation was held the day after my 18th birthday on a warm Sunday afternoon in the high school gym. For some reason I remember the number of graduates — 293 — and I remember that although our names were being called in alphabetical order, I was seated in the front row. The eventful day felt uneventful: I walked across the stage without tripping or wetting myself. I went home to a small party, opened gifts, ate cake, thanked everyone. Later that day, I hung out with friends. I got home before midnight to lay my head down on the black and white pillow for one last time.
The next morning I woke to no more school, but still more of the same. I got up, ate breakfast, and went to work. Life was good, but life was — life. I promised my mom I would send “Thank you” cards to everyone that week, but I never did. (NEVER did — the cards are still in a box somewhere next to old photos and a picture of me with my fro.) Two weeks later, the cat chewed my graduation diploma. I ran out of gas twice that month. I dealt with personal issues of laziness, moodiness, and procrastination throughout the entire summer. Life was still life and I was still me.
I expected an event — the event of graduation — to solve my problems, change my flaws, and make all of my dreams come true. When I soon realized that nothing had changed, I was a little befuddled. So much emphasis was put on graduation but it didn’t occur to me that an event wouldn’t change my life. Graduation opened the door for me to grow in freedom and potential but the world was still the same. I could depend on God to open big doors — which He did — but things like character, maturity, and discipline were dependent mostly on choices, decisions, and commitments I made.
If you have recently graduated from high school or college, congratulations! You did a great thing! You achieved something that the majority of your ancestors and a great percentage of the world has not achieved. But remember what the great philosopher Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Life has incredible possibilities — but it won’t change automatically. Dream big. Dream bigger. Then, dream bigger still — but the achievement of those dreams will take time, hard work, humility, gratitude, and the grace of God. In the midst of the long days of perseverance, feel free to get your hair permed. And remember to mail those “Thank you” cards like your mother asked you to.
Follow my blog on facebook, Twitter @croso1, at crosoblog.com or have a copy sent directly to your email. Calvin G. Roso © May 2014