It is that time of year again.
Some years ago, I was invited to speak at the graduation ceremonies of a liberal arts college. Later, many in the audience told me they expected a very political speech. Some of them were relieved; others were disappointed. I don't do politics at graduation.
Graduation is about life.
My high school graduation was OK. I gave a speech. My family was there, intact, probably as happy as they ever were (But did I know?). We went out for Chinese food afterward.
College was not so great. I'd been raped 36 hours before. My father didn't come because I didn't have a ticket for his wife. He said he was sick, but I knew the truth. We had bagels at my sister's afterward. My father bought me a gift that he kept in the trunk of his car, but then someone stole his car, and the gift was gone.
I didn't go to my law school graduation. My father died a few months before. I was already working and didn't have the money for a plane ticket. Besides, the whole idea of it seemed too sad.
Graduation can be very hard.
Here is what I know.
It's easy to forget how lucky you are. I should have had more fun at my high school graduation. I should have had a truly wonderful time. I remember feeling sorry for myself that I was not going to my first (or second or third or fourth) choice college, all of which rejected me. As it turned out, it was fine. As it turned out, it was the last time I remember my family happy together. Why didn't I enjoy it more?
It's easy to think everyone around you knows just where they're going. Maybe they think they do, but they're probably wrong. If someone had asked me back when I graduated from law school (by mail) what I would not be, I quickly would have told them two things: I won't be an academic ("Those who can do, do; those who can't teach."), and I certainly will never be a partner in a big law firm.
And guess what? I'm an academic and a partner in a big law firm.
It's easy to think you're the only one whose father didn't come, who isn't heading for a fancy dinner, who doesn't have a job and a life all lined up. You aren't. If everyone around you looks happier than you, it may be that they're just acting. Or maybe they're counting their blessings. Or maybe you should.
In the months before I finished law school, when I was struggling to finish what I started, when I was living on my "bursar's card" because I literally didn't have a dime, I found a wonderful psychiatrist who told me to read a book called "Adaptation to Life." It was a serious study by some long-ago college cohort to determine who found happiness and success in life. And the conclusion (and the reason the wise doctor recommended it) was that what mattered most was not the hand you were dealt, but how you played it, and that "adapting" to life was more important than anything else.
When I speak at graduations, that is what I say. Do your best. Adapt. Life is about change; living well means adapting to change. Your first job will not be your last. Your first love may not last. You will win some and lose some. You will fall down and get kicked. You will be treated unfairly. It happens to everyone. It's what happens next that matters. "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -- Winston Churchill.
Life requires courage, when you're young and when you're old.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
© 2013 CREATORS.COM
It is that time of year again.
Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter
This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.
Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer
Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.
Making plans for spring planting
My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place.
Cynicism, optimism both on display in Frankfort
Those who spend little time in Kentucky’s Capitol and who read columns by cynics who cover it should be forgiven their disillusionment about how the people’s business is conducted.
Even Scrooge would enjoy library mystery
Saturday afternoons and evenings are usually down time for Loretta and me.
We simply don’t get out much after we’ve used up the movie gift certificates the kids gave us for Christmas. That means we mostly go to the movies to avoid guilt trips because our kids do work hard for their money.
Funding education is critical for Kentucky and its communities
Kentucky’s latest budget outline makes it clear that our leaders in Frankfort plan to go to great lengths to find more money for education. For communities throughout the commonwealth, this effort to restore funds for our schools is very welcomed news.
Who benefits from ‛AT&T Bill’
Senate Bill 99, the “AT&T Bill,” is a great deal for the telecommunications giants AT&T, Windstream and Cincinnati Bell.
It would allow them to abandon their least profitable customers and service areas as well as public protection obligations. But it is a risky and potentially dangerous bet for Kentuckians. Kentucky House members should turn it down.
End of the Line for the Welfare State?
The Congressional Budget Office did not exactly say Obamacare would cost the nation 2.5 million jobs.
But what it did say is vindication of what conservatives have preached since Barry Goldwater stood in the pulpit 50 years ago:
The more liberal the welfare state, the greater the disincentive to work and the more ruinous the impact upon a nation’s work ethic.
Beshear’s timid proposal versus Tar Heels’ tax-cutting tenacity
Raising the specter of hiking cigarette taxes is – for cash-starved politicians, big-government health nannies and their opinion-page enablers – the policy equivalent of ringing Pavlov’s bell.
Seeing “cash trays” rather than ashtrays, these big spenders experience racing heartbeats and sweaty palms while dreaming of raking in millions more into government coffers for pet projects.
Governor’s plan doesn’t go far enough
Gov. Steve Beshear deserves recognition for bringing forward this week a specific tax reform proposal for consideration. His plan contains some good ideas, especially in that it would raise new revenue and includes modest assistance to families struggling to get by on low wages through the creation of a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
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- Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter