Graduation season is upon us!

There are those who are graduating by the skin of their teeth, and those who don’t think much of the event because it didn’t take much to get there.  And you should acknowledge the graduation by following the lead of your favorite soon-to-be-alumni.

My years in high school and as an undergraduate were primarily spent finding things other than school work to keep my mind and body busy.  I was involved in many fabulous activities, and by and large really enjoyed myself.  I graduated with honors both times without putting even half of my full attention into my school work.  My dear and devoted family praised me and supported me both times.  But to be honest, it just felt hollow and oddly forced.  And it was forced, on my part.  I had to force myself to legitimately accept their praise for what I did not consider was my best work.

On the other hand, when I graduated with my Ph.D. it was a completely different ball game.  I had put my heart and soul and full capabilities into my graduate school career.  I had worked very hard for something and I was proud of myself for completing it.  In this context it was easy to accept other people’s congratulations and pride in me.

In retrospect, I suspect I would have responded to a note of “Good work – now keep going!” for those first few graduations much better.  After all, I never considered them endpoints – only markers along the way.  And a full-powered blow-out was all that was possibly acceptable for when I did work my hardest.

So try to get a sense from your favorite graduating graduate of 2008: Is she really proud of the body of work she’s done to reach this place?  I mean really really proud, down beneath the potential embarrassment of being proud of one’s self.  Because if she is, then you need to go all out.  Otherwise, the goal needs to simply be to keep the ball rolling.

(As a side note: This is not in any way to say that educational achievement is the only way, or even the best way, to reach one’s goals.  It is just one path among many.)