I attended the graduation of my great-niece, Elyssa Teel, this past weekend.
Mother’s Day was also being celebrated, maybe with some of the moms being happy that a chick was leaving the nest.
It has been more than 10 years since I attended a high school graduation. This year marks 40 years since I walked across that stage.
Some things never change, as they shouldn’t… the pageantry of the Pomp and Circumstance being played by the underclass band members. The stands filled with supportive friends and family that endure a couple of hours for a name read over a P.A. system.
The overwhelming feeling of an ending and a beginning. Watching boys stroll across the platform with their mortarboards barely hanging off the back of their heads, and girls tottering on high heels that they should have practiced walking in will always be a part of graduation no matter the year.
The top scholars will give motivational speeches. Speeches that years from now they will reflect and realize that they wish they knew now what they will know then.
Parents will swarm the grads with cameras and there will be lots of hugs. There will be a few that are relieved this day and its festivities are over.
Nope, some things never change.
I watch with 40-years-down-the-road eyes and know that there are many things that have changed since the Senior Class of 1979 walked.
The promise that we would stay in touch didn’t last a year. The world became a lot bigger. Some stayed where they were known and others, that were well-known, became unknown as they started over. Friendships faded, sometimes flourished and time went on.
I’ve been inspired by speakers that asked their audiences, “What would you tell your 18-year-old self?” I actually have a pretty extensive list of things I would tell that small town girl.
I suppose at the top of the list would be that “You do not want to have regrets. No woulda, shoulda, couldas down the road. If you want it to happen, you are the one to do it.”
I would also tell my fresh-faced self that it’s easier to get along in the world if you’ve tried to acquaint yourself with the world. I wish every young person had the opportunity or responsibility to live abroad for a year.
History is so much more meaningful when it’s underfoot and not just on a page. Humanities and Social Studies need the head but also the heart to get an understanding of other cultures.
So, younger me, go meet some neighbors on those other continents.
Wait a minute. This little pep-talk came way too easily. It’s because I give it on a regular basis to anyone, any age, that will listen.
Don’t wait! Time goes by quickly! Don’t have regrets! Travel; see the wonderful world that we are free to explore!
Whatever mile marker you are in life, take that senior trip.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.