Tomorrow night, hundreds of seniors on Kauai will graduate from high school. This is no small feat. They worked hard to reach this point. They studied, attended classes, earned credits, and participated in extracurricular activities. Many of them held jobs while completing courses and playing defense on the football field or the basketball court. Many spent late nights cramming for exams and writing research papers. They deserve all the praise, applause, hugs, handshakes and accolades that will come their way. Commencement exercises are glorious, a time for smiles and laughter and celebration. So, soak it in.
But they can also be a bit scary.
Because graduates are leaving behind the very place they have spent some of the best times of their lives. It is where they went in the mornings and spent their afternoons. It is where they succeeded and failed. It is where they grew into adults. With graduations, they are leaving behind friends. They are leaving behind classmates and teammates. High school, as many know, can be difficult and yet, it can be wildly fun, too.
Now comes the next step for seniors. And it’s a doozy.
Some will move to the Mainland and attend universities. Some will say goodbye to Kauai and set off for the big cities to see what life is like elsewhere. Some will stay home, attend Kauai Community College and find part-time work. Some will surf and swim and enjoy life on one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Others will dedicates their lives to serving others and making their home is the best it can be. And some will wonder what to do and where they’re headed and why they’re here.
A little advice. It’s pretty simple, because your future depends on you and no one else.
Follow your heart.
Most importantly, grads, believe in yourselves.
Believe in what you have done and what you can do and what you will do.
Believe you can and will make a difference in this world, which while often crazy, is beautiful, too.
Believe, even when others don’t and are rooting against you.
Believe you can succeed even when the odds are you will fail.
Believe that opportunities come to those who never give up.
Believe there are people out there who need you and are indeed, counting on you.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking what you do doesn’t matter. It’s easy to become discouraged. And understand, there will be days you will fail. There will be days you want to give up. There will be days you want to take the easy path. Don’t.
Instead, take a deep breath, take a look around, and remember to believe.