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It is that time of year when high schools and colleges send their seniors off into the world to Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches.” The title is taken from Act III, scene III of Shakespeare’s Othello.

Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, th’ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!”

Graduates reading this may wonder at these bits of trivia. Trust me, you will need to ponder something while the speeches drone on and your fellow graduates wait their turn to cross the stage. Why not ponder the notion that we send you off to the next stage of your lives with a military march? Weird. You are being sent off into the next phase of your life, whatever it is (and good luck to you) with the glory of the military as your musical send off.

I have noticed that many older people say very weird things to graduates. I don’t think they mean to be mean when they ask you, “So what will you major in?” or “What will you do with that degree?” I sincerely believe that many older people are simply envious of the choices you have in front of you. In a sense, they are wondering about choices they did not make and are jealous that you get to make those same choices. How should you respond?

My oldest son had a brilliant strategy at his high school graduation. When people asked him what he wanted to be, he said, “The Governor of Minnesota.” No one had a response because no one aspired to this job. Jaws dropped and his potential advisors said something like, “Well I wish you well with that.” I asked him if he really wanted to be the Governor and he said, “It doesn’t matter at all what I want. I wanted to shut them up and it worked.” This may be a line that you want to use. Just saying.

There will be people who say, very confidentially, to graduates, “These are the best years of your life.” WTF? Why would someone say to a new grad that life from here on will be so much worse?” That’s mean. If you are a new grad do NOT listen to this at all. It is mean to tell you that your life from this point on is all downhill. Your life will be uphill and downhill and may occasionally find a plateau. If you somehow think/thought that there was a state of being called “grown up” forget that. We are all of us on a journey. Join us. You have punched your educational ticket. Celebrate it. Use it to follow your dreams.

Congratulations to the graduates!

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