My advice to graduates

Enjoy your youth! Before you know it, you’ll have a strand of white hair peeking through, and this will be followed by another, and another. Pulling it out means you have yet to cross the bridge to 40. Beyond that bridge lies the doorway of your favorite salon.

Take a moment to bask in the limelight! Your photo with parents beaming with pride has been viewed, shared and commented upon. Even your most distant relatives working overseas have seen your graduation photo, and are astonished not only by how tall you’ve grown, but how old they now are. Welcome all the praises, more so if they come with gifts and money. The emoluments and compliments are well-deserved, but shall soon fade away.

Your graduation is your parents graduation, too! (Photo by Cesar Perante)

Your graduation is your parents graduation, too! (Photo by Cesar Perante)

Be extra sweet to your parents! They deserve it for not giving up on you. They deserve it for not giving up in meeting those tuition fee deadlines, coughing up money for books and field trips, and making extra sure that you get fed, before, during and after school hours. Your graduation is their graduation, too! Being sweet to them now will help them get over the fact that you still need to be fed, before, during, and after working hours at least until you get the salary that you’ve been helping out.

Start saving! You have no excuse for further financial dependence beyond one or two months of rest. Thereafter, you should be gainfully employed. If a job offer remains elusive, go out and sell polvoron. I’m not kidding! Not getting your dream job at the first try is a given, especially if your dream job comes with a dream car and a dream house. There is nothing wrong with starting from the bottom. Most of the successful people you read about started that way. There is something wrong, however, about being idle. An idle graduate is like a fireman in a desert. It just doesn’t make sense.

Pay it forward! Your life has just amounted to something tangible, concrete, and measurable in the eyes of society. Pay it forward, help somebody attain their own educational goals. Donate your old books, shoes, and uniforms. Treat a street kid to a full meal. Surprise your “kasambahays” with a gift. Tutor your nephew or niece, or teach them something new this summer. Be extra nice because you are now a role model to your peers.

Read more! Be aware of world events and know that Crimea is not a tablet to chew or a medical condition. Have pity on yourself if you have yet to form an opinion about our own current events. And yes, the Bangsamoro is not about hairstyles. You are an adult now. Stupidity does not become you. Have a point of view. Please. Continue to study – not because there are people grading your performance – but because you have a brain and a heart, and both should benefit from new knowledge and experiences.

Continue to study because you have a brain and a heart, and both should benefit from new knowledge and experiences. (Photo by KJ ROSALES)

Continue to study because you have a brain and a heart, and both should benefit from new knowledge and experiences. (Photo by KJ ROSALES)

Be fierce! Know your rights even before you set foot in your workplace. Respect your boss and co-workers but never give up your dignity. Having said that, be dignified! Don’t give anyone else an excuse to look down on you because of your sloppy look, or undisciplined ways. Respect, like friendship, is earned and nurtured. Fresh graduates, especially our young women, should not tolerate sexual harassment from bosses and co-workers. Male workers need to know when to put their foot down, bullies exist especially in the workplace.

Write better! Writing is a craft that would always work to your advantage. Your writing skills will improve the more you practice and the more you read. There is a dearth of good writers in both the public and private sectors. A good writer knows how to simplify and clarify, important skills that top management appreciate.

Have fun! You straddle the best of both worlds, no longer young but still not quite a full-grown adult, especially in the eyes of your parents. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to be old, and act old, and look old. But know that age is a factor in life, and learn to respect those who are older than you. Do people like us a favor and have fun while you can! Explore the world, or even explore your country. Have no boundaries except those defined by law, and your own brand of ethics. Take photos and videos and start a journal on your many transitions in life. You have but one life to live. Live it well, and live it with pride. Make your life matter. Congratulations, Graduates!

Panorama Link: My advice to graduates

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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