Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Tom McDonald
Syndicated content 

Graduates: Be bold, but be safe


May 11, 2022

It’s that time of year, when just about every newspaper in the state gives front-page attention to at least one local graduation. They’re always a big deal, especially to those who walk across that ceremonial stage and make their families proud.

Graduations mark a transition in our lives, but sometimes I think it’s over-emphasized. Anyone who thinks a diploma or degree is a ticket to success is sadly mistaken. It’s just a ticket to ride; you still have to get there on your own.

But rather than continuing with a recitation of grad-day platitudes, allow me to offer up some less-than-conventional thoughts instead:

n First, let’s dispel the notion that you can be anything you set your mind to becoming, because you can’t. If you’re short, you won’t likely make it to the NBA no matter how hard you try. If you’re color blind, you can’t be a pilot. The fact is, some obstacles just can’t be overcome.

You might as well recognize your limitations straight away. That way you can focus on your potential, your own talents and skills, and what you actually can achieve.

The key to success in our world is to match your abilities to the demands of the working world. Even if you’re too short to play in the NBA, if you understand the game there are other opportunities off the court. I’ve known some excellent sports reporters who couldn’t cut it as athletes, but they understood and appreciated the intricacies of sports and carved out their own niche. That’s how success happens.

And while we’re talking about success, let’s attach a standard to it, something my dad taught me and I pass along to you: Leave things better than you found them.

That’s it. Apply that to all your life experiences and you will always stand tall.

n When I was a kid, I was the consummate daydreamer. I whiled away the hours picturing myself as a rock star, or an outstanding athlete, or a great and wise leader. What I had to learn the hard way was that such dreams get you nowhere without discipline and hard work.

So to the dreamers out there, I say, dream big! Just remember that the bigger your dream, the harder you’ll have to work to make it come true.

n And, finally, this closing thought for the parents out there: Let your young grads get out there and screw up.

Most Americans switch career paths at least once in their lifetime. Our kids don’t have to get it right the first time. Let ‘em learn.

I love what my brother Jim told his children as they moved from high school into the larger world. “You’ll make mistakes,” he told them, “and that’s OK. Just don’t make any mistakes that’ll get you killed.”

Amen to that. Be bold, graduates, but be safe, too. The world awaits.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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