The woman who hosts an NPR advice feature called “Ask Amy” was herself seeking advice. She is scheduled to speak at a high school commencement. What should she say?
It is a diverse graduating class. And it is high school. Some will go into the military, some will go on to college, some will enter the work force. What can you say that is relevant to ALL of them?
As I mulled it over I began to have some ideas, so….
To the graduating class of 2010
The birth of a child is a celebration. It is a miracle. There is a new person, a fresh person, full of promise and possibilities. Holding a newborn and gazing at their unique face one wonders, Who are you? What will you become?
There is a lot of growing and learning that must take place, but eventually that brand new person finds themself on a threshhold, as you are today.
Commencement is a threshold moment, you will walk forward and begin to answer those questions, Who am I? and What am I becoming?
As we are paused in this doorway, I would like to address a lie you have likely been told. It is actually two lies. You have been told something, but you may have heard something else. What you heard and what was said are both lies.
You may have been told You can do anything you want to do. What you likely heard was You can do everything you want to do. It’s not true. You can’t
You cannot do everything, you cannot have everything, you cannot be everything. You can’t.
You must make choices.
This is an often misunderstood principle of economics: cost. What does something cost?
Let’s make it simple…a CD costs 15 dollars. Two tickets to a movie cost 15 dollars. A shirt costs 15 dollars.
You buy the CD. You paid 15 dollars.
But that is not the final cost. What you haven’t figured in is what it cost in opportunities not chosen. Items not purchased. You bought a CD, it cost you 15 dollars AND it cost you two movie tickets and a shirt. Why? Because once the 15 dollars is spent you cannot spend it again.
Once a day is spent, it is spent. You do not have time to do everything. You do not have the energy to do everything.
You can do many things. You cannot do everything.
But that only addresses the lie you heard. We have not yet addressed the lie that was stated.
You can be anything you want when you grow up.
No, you can’t. You really can’t.
It sounds encouraging to say to a second grader, You can be anything you want to be. But it’s not true.
We are all unique designs. We have passions and talents and interests and abilities. But we do not possess ALL talents and interests and abilities. You may have many, you do not have all.
You will have to choose. And if I may suggest, it would be best to go with your strengths or as we say at a restaurant, don’t order against the house. At Outback Steakhouse you do not order fish. It’s a steakhouse, order the steak. At a seafood restaurant it is best to go with seafood, that’s the specialty. At a burger joint, get the burger.
As you cross this threshold I encourage you to find out what your design is. What are your strengths, your talents, your abilities, your passions? Pursue those.
Do I mean you must be accomplished or skilled already? No! But you have been designed with a purpose, find out what it is. Pursue your possibilities.
The best and most direct place to go to find your unique design is to the designer himself.
Yes, God is real. And he made you. And you have talents and gifts and abilities.
Do those things.
You can’t be EVERYTHING. And you really can’t be ANYTHING. But you can be THE thing you were designed to be. And when you pursue your designer and his design you will know joy and energy and it will be good. It will still be hard, and it will still be work, but it will be work that rejuvenates you, not drains you, work that brings fulfillment, not emptiness.
So class of 2010, seek your designer and be what he designed you to be.