We all love him. He gave us the Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, and Green Eggs and Ham. But my favorite gift he ever gave us will always be that consummate graduation book: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! It may look colorful and like a fantastic bedtime story for someone less than four feet tall, but the reality of that text is that it contains virtually all you’ll ever need to know to make it successfully through life. Here are my favorite lessons from it:
1. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You are really in control of your life. Not mom, not dad, just you. Accept the challenge and steer the ship carefully.
2. You’re too smart to go down and not so smart street.
You are smart. “We have all of us a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be” – Jane Austen was right! You know what’s best for you as you set out to pursue your dreams. Follow your heart.
3. Oh the places you’ll go!
Life is SO exciting, and the world is full of so many magical experiences. Savor the great moments and the tiny ones. Every day is a miracle.
4. The magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all!
You have talents! Everyone does. That’s the way the universe works. No one gets left out. We are all good at something. It may take you a little while to figure out your gifts, but I promise you they are there and the world needs them!
5. Except when you don’t, because sometimes you won’t…
You won’t always win, and this is good for you. It’s ok to lose sometimes. It is never fun, but it keeps you humble and nice, and it makes you compassionate for others. Learn from your failures and try not to repeat them.
6. Bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.
Things can go wrong. Sometimes really wrong. It’s ok. It happens to everyone and it becomes part of your life story. Just hang on. This, too, shall pass.
7. When you’re in a slump you’re not in for much fun.
If you do get down in the dumps, it is no fun. This is also normal from time to time. Lean on your friends. Reach out to your family. Exercise and make yourself do things you know you love to do. Fight the gloominess and you can kick it.
8. The waiting place? No! That’s not for you!
Uncle Shelby knew that sometimes people like to say that “things will get better when…” NO THEY WON’T. The only time things will get better is right now, when you do something. Don’t wait for a big break. You’ll lose your whole life waiting. Instead, make a big break happen for you.
9. When things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew. Just go right along, you’ll start happening, too!
Even success can be scary. But don’t panic. Just trust yourself and do your best to move steadily forward, seeking the good counsel of people you admire and who care about you, but always using your own judgment and making things happen.
10. All alone, whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
Yep. Being an adult means that you’ll need to be comfortable not being a part of a little herd of similar people. We always have friends, but adulthood takes us out on our own, into new groups where we make new friends and expand our circles. Sometimes this process can be lonely. That’s ok. Just hang in there.
11. There’s a very good chance that you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants!
Wow, sometimes life is scary. Cancer is scary. War is scary. Poverty is scary. It’s ok to be frightened. We all are. But we love one another and stick together and face up to our problems, whatever they are.
12. BUT ON YOU WILL GO, though the weather be foul!
Just don’t give up and you’re sure to win. What I love about Uncle Shelby is that he tells us that we WILL keep going. He expects that of us. Stopping is simply not an option.
13. Kid, you’ll be famous as famous can be!
Change “Can I do this?” to “I can do this!”. The world, all of us, we need your talents. You can do this!
14. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!
And he tells us to get going. I love that. You need someone to say that. Just do it. GO. Get moving, kid. You’ve got great things to do. Go, cure the diseases, protect the children, give everyone clean water. You can do this. We’re all waiting in the wings, watching you win, a whole tribe of your parents and teachers, too proud of you to speak.
Start chasing your dreams today! Search for a college that is right for you.