Words to the graduands

 

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Category: Children/Teenagers Date: 09 Jun 02


Dear 16 and 18-year-olds:

Itís that time of year again. When your raging hormones, unfathomable rages, misunderstood souls, unbearable crushes of the heart are tamed into well dressed adolescents (you) at graduations who, unfortunately (for you), are open targets for endless advice by adults.

 

Iíve made mine into a list prefaced with the admission that adults rarely take their own advice but often wish they had. The first four Iíve borrowed from British writer Sue Townsend; the rest Iíve either learned the hard way or stumbled on by mistake, having also made the mistake of never following advice.

 

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Never shave your eyebrows off. They will grow back in laughably eccentric shapes.

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Do not buy expensive jewelry. Somebody will take it away from you.

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Ask questions. And talk to strangers.

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If you enjoy doing everything the most difficult way possible, whether itís working, studying, socialising or travelling, get pregnant by an unreliable youth and have his baby. (Sue Townsend)

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There is no such thing as a free lunch or easy money. Ask Dole Chadeeís spirit, Enron executives, or anybody in jail.

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Understand the difference between need and want. A CD burner is a want. Food, health and shelter are needs. You should want more, but now you need to think how you can earn it.

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Never stop learning. People will pay you for it. The more knowledge you have, the more you will get paid.

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Read every day. Characters allow you to live hundreds of lives in one lifetime.

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When you enter the job market, grab whatever job you can get even if itís not what you want. Nothing is beneath or above you. The important thing is to keep working.

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Nobody is better or worse than you. They are only less or more qualified in the same or different fields.

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When the little courtesies go, the big ones go and sloppy thinking gets worse over time. Please, thank you, sorry can win hearts and jobs. They are more than words. They mean you care about other peopleís feelings. Only insecure people think good manners diminish them in some way.

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No one person should mean the world to you. To do that is a burden to that person and a loss to you. Dozens of people - best friends, mothers, street vendors - go towards making you happy. Donít make the mistake of hinging your happiness on any one person or you will find that millions of lovely things and people in life will pass you by.

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When it comes to confidences, as hard as it may be, stick to family. They may have differences with you, but they will never, ever sell you out.

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Travel. Work day and night if you have to in order to do it. Trawl the Internet for cheap tickets, exotic destinations. Travelling light of heart and pocket equals the best time of your life. Donít wait till youíre saddled with responsibilities to catch a train, a sunset in Kenya, climb Mt Kailash, fall in love with strangers, have a midnight feast of wine, oranges and cheese among ruins in Florence. This kind of adventurous freedom comes only once. Donít waste it.

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The real knight in shining armour waiting to carry you into the sunset is not out there; he is within yourself. A profession and economic independence will give you the freedom and love you yearn for from a position of strength. It will protect you from verbal and physical abuse.

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Revel in your beauty, but donít rely on it to get you anywhere in life. If you start out in life trying to get ahead on a shapely pair of legs you will end up with nothing but ash. You will be objectified, patronised, lusted after, but unloved because you have presented cosmetics to the world, and withheld your soul. Also, you will not develop any real skills for when it fades.

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Keep your word. No matter how tedious or tiresome it is. If youíve promised your grandmother to take her for a drive, show up. On time. If you canít make it, call. This trait could land you a job as a CEO of a conglomerate, or a leader in your chosen field. Why? Because once youíve gained peopleís confidence, they will trust you with their money and their lives.

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Be aware of the world you live in. In the last few months weíve had the threat of nuclear war in India and Pakistan, Afghan refugees are on the verge of starving, an arms dump explosion in Lagos has left hundreds dead. See yourself in context. A lucky person in a safe, developing country with access to basic amenities. Give back to this world.

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Work part-time and save $100 a week, this will give you almost five grand in a year.

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If youíre old enough to say ďItís my lifeĒ, youíre old enough to do dishes.

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Get a university education. After that, the world is yours.

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Experts say good health attracts the opposite sex. Drink eight glasses of water every day. Exercise.

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You will never get old if you donít want to. Bodies and minds only age when not used.

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Itís braver to stand up for your beliefs than to shoot someone.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur