In 1999, my five-year-old nephew sat in the bleachers with my family members and attended my high-school graduation at a local college stadium. Last night, I attended my now 17-year-old nephew’s graduation at the same location.
I’m 31 now, and watching his graduation experience thirteen years later was surreal. As I’m sitting in the bleachers, I couldn’t help but think back to thirteen years ago when it was me walking the stage to receive my diploma.
I was excited for my nephew, but at the same time I was disappointed. I was disappointed in myself and my lack of success, both professionally and personally. I never knew exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated high school, but I knew I’d eventually figure it out and become successful in whatever it was that I chose to do. I figured I’d have a great job making lots of money, a big house, a nice car, a wife and one or two kids.
The only thing that came to fruition was me owning a car. I have friends whom I grew up with that are in great careers, married with kids, and are also proud homeowners. All of these thoughts of disappointment are going through my head as the PA announcer is saying each kids name.
About an hour into the ceremony, the PA announcer finally calls my nephews name, and we all rise up and cheer for him.
Seeing my nephew take the stage and accept his diploma automatically put a smile on my face. After he walked the stage and accepted his diploma, I sat back down and went back to beating myself up emotionally.
After the festivities, we all convened on the field with my nephew and took a bunch of pictures with him. Soon after, we departed and went our separate ways.
When I got home, I sat on the couch and did some more pondering. I evaluated my life and put everything into perspective. It’s true that I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life; however, I failed to realize all the positives in my life. All I did was dwell on everything that I didn’t accomplish, instead of focusing on everything I did accomplish. I have accomplished quite a few feats since I graduated high school. I also have some things in the pipeline that will put me in a better place both personally and professionally within the next year and a half. During the two-hour ceremony, I let my mind take me to a dark place instead of appreciating the moment.
There are several lessons that I learned on my nephews’ graduation night.
- Never compare your life to other persons – You don’t know what they went through to get where they are.
- It’s never too late to do something with your life – I went back to school at age 28, and I’m one year and a half away from graduating college.
- Continue to move forward – Learn the lessons from the past and throw away the experience.
- Be grateful for what you have – Count your blessings because we all have something to be thankful for.
- Continue to think positive – You have the power to place yourself in a positive space.
It’s easy to dwell on the negativity and beat yourself up. It takes time and practice to condition yourself to maintain a positive mindset. I’ve been a student of positive thinking for nine years, and even I go through periods where I revert back to my old bad habits. When you’re feeling down, put a smile on your face and remind yourself of the things that you’re thankful for.
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