Good luck to county's grads

By Staff
Rebecca Walker, Franklin County Times
A week and a half ago, I walked across the stage in Flowers Hall on the campus of the University of North Alabama, and received recognition for the hard work I have put into my last four years of school.
It shocks me to realize that four years have passed since I crossed the stage in my high school auditorium in Ripley, Mississippi on a warm, sticky May evening to receive my diploma.
Of all the parallels that I can draw between the two experiences, a constant was the many cynical welcomes into the "Real World" that I received.
This weekend, high school students all over the country will go through the same motions. They will begin new sagas in their lives. For most, this means enrolling in college, joining the workforce or just simply figuring out what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
Included in this group of up-and-coming adults is my little sister, Amanda.
What shocks me more is the fact that now not only will my oldest little sister be graduating, but she will also be flung head first into the "Real World," as so many disenchanted adults like to refer to it.
This "real world" business really irks me. It is as though you are being told that all of the emotions and experiences you've been through in the past were fake, false, or counterfeit.
I definitely beg to differ. I acknowledge that a teenager's life is usually different from the everyday life of an adult. But as a 22-year-old "in-between," I feel that I can observe the best, and worst, of both worlds.
The experiences that myself, my sister, and thousands of high school and college seniors have dealt with and been through over the past four (or more) years are of real merit. Those events have shaped who we are and what we will become.
This weekend, when you shake a graduate's hand and feel tempted to say, "Welcome to the real world," (and trust me, I know that you will), bite your tongue.
Do not discredit the hard work and wearisome experiences of these young, accomplished individuals.
Rather, give them a firm handshake and a hug. Offer to them the benefit of your experience. Share the advice you wish someone had shared with you when you were 18, or 22, 35, or even just a year ago.
Instead of welcoming the graduates in your life to the "Real World," welcome them to your world. Be sure that they know you are glad they're in it, too.
Oh, and to the grads who may read this, I want to say, "Good job." You've earned that, and so much more. Good luck in all of your future endeavors.

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