Congratulations, Graduates! – by Tony Thomas

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It’s crazy to think that we’re already in June – we’re about halfway through 2018! Time has certainly flown by. While many of us consider the month of June as an ending point for students in school, I want to address those who will make June the beginning of a new chapter in their lives – – the graduating class of 2018. Although this month marks the end of an academic journey, it also begins a fresh slate full of possibilities and curiosity.

Not many emotions rival the uncertainty and angst that many of us feel as we walk across the stage to get our diploma, whether it is high school or college. For me personally, there were so many thoughts like, what college was going to be like and if I could survive on my own. Amongst all the celebration with friends and family, the fear of the unknown silently lurked beneath a confident exterior. I quickly realized that much of my self-doubt and anxiety would only be conquered by going through these experiences. No amount of what if’s or hypothetical scenarios can truly prepare you for a new life change. It’s perfectly normal to question yourself and to feel fear because of a new challenge. Overcoming challenges is what makes us feel accomplished and rewarded. Think about when you were in middle school or even a freshman or sophomore in high school. Graduation seemed so far away. In the blink of an eye, you’re walking across the stage.

My advice to the graduating class of 2018 is to take full advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. Be willing to try new things. Do not be complacent, but also make time to celebrate your successes and achievements. In the coming weeks, months, and years, you will have to deal with adversity. No one wants to go through it, but it is a part of life. As difficult as it may sound, try to maintain your poise throughout it all. Getting to the point of graduation was not easy. I’m sure it was filled with difficulties, sleepless nights, a few bad grades, challenging teachers, and maybe drama with some friends; but look at you now. You have made it! You are a graduate!

Continue to keep that same energy in your next phase of life that you got you through this phase. This is only the beginning. There is so much more to be written to your story. Be thankful for the great times you had leading up to your graduation, but now it’s time to look to the future. Whether it’s college, a job, the military, or something else, remember what got you to this point, and what will continue to take you further.

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2018. Whether it was high school or college, be proud of what you have accomplished, and best of luck to you as you navigate your future. I leave you with these words of wisdom from Bradley Whitford (Film and Television Actor) from a commencement speech he gave in 2004 at the University of Wisconsin:

Tony Thomas is the Recreation Services Supervisor for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at t.thomas@manassasparkva.gov.

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