Congratulations to the graduates of 2017. As they say, you did it. You studied, you wrote, you read, you passed exams, you raised your hand in class. You stayed the course. You earned your diploma and you deserve every accolade that’s tossed your way. You should take pride in this achievement. Well done.
High school, they also say, is the best time of your life. Don’t believe it. The best is yet to come. But whether you plan to leave Kauai and head for the Mainland for college or work, or you plan to stay on the island you love, plant your roots even deeper and make a career of things here, we’d like to share some thoughts that might prepare you for what’s to come and persevere in those tough times.
Here we go:
• You will learn, if you already haven’t, that the vast majority of people in this world like to point out your mistakes. They want you to fail. Do something wrong and people are quick to notice and make sure others do, too. There’s truth to that saying, “Misery loves company.” It does. There are a lot of angry people in this world who criticize, berate, belittle. So, why are we telling you this? We want to be sure you don’t listen to them. Ignore them. Whatever you do, don’t spend time with them, or you will become like them.
• You will fail. You will make mistakes. You will do things wrong. You will screw up. You will be rejected. That’s all part of life. But one thing must come of all this heartache: You must not give up. Don’t quit. Keep pushing. Keep trying. Success comes to those who keep getting up.
• Praise others. Pat them on the back. Tell them “good job.” There really are people who do this, who focus on the positive and want to build others up. If you can learn to appreciate people, and show them appreciation, it will make a difference in their lives, as well as yours.
• Give your best to whatever you do. No half efforts. No going through the motions. Achieving your best requires discipline and commitment. Pay attention to details. Stay sharp physically and mentally. Avoid candy and sugar and soda and smoking. Exercise.
• Take risks. If you want to do something, but aren’t sure it will work, go for it. You might surprise yourself. Our friend Ric Cox, the president of Aloha Angels who passed away this year at age 72, liked to say “shoot for the moon. If you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.” Well, it was something like that. But the worst thing you can do is not do something because you might fail. They say we live to regret not what we did, but what we didn’t do. Some doors open only once and you have one chance to step through.
• Have passion for what you do. Those with passion are the ones who shine. Indifference leads to mediocrity and boredom. When you care about something, your effort rises.
• Sacrifices will have to made. Watching TV, playing games and goofing off are fun for awhile, but won’t take you anywhere.
• Time is on your side now. You are young. But don’t waste it. Don’t put things off. Procrastination is your enemy and a habit that once formed is hard to break.
• Everyone, well almost everyone, really wants to know joy and peace and love in this life. This isn’t rocket science. Help others find those things and you will, too.
• Be strong because at times, you will have to stand alone.
• Believe in yourself. Believe in what you can do. Believe you are beautiful.
Finally, we leave you with these closing words in the poem, “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. They are brilliant. Let them guide your steps.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.