Whether you are graduating from college or high school, this time is yours.

You and your peers have grown up wanting for little.  You’ve been told your whole life that you are special and a winner.  Now is the time for you to prove those monikers to be rightly bestowed.

Life is like high school—it’s filled with cliques and in many cases it’s who you know rather than what you know that will carry you the farthest.

Be aware that your learning days are  not done, far from it.  Ask any successful person and they’ll tell you that they have learned much more from the people they’ve met and the places they’ve been than any book can tell them.

School teaches you up to a point.  What school really should have done for you is to teach you how to find the answers you seek.  With Google, Bing and other search engines, information is at your fingertips.  No web site can tell you what you want to be, what you should like, how you will fit into a world that is unlike the one that your parents stepped into as they graduated from school.  It is only through interaction with people and places that you’ll discover yourself.

You’ve spent the past 10 years or so being a member of a team, be it Little League baseball, middle school soccer or high school band.  You have learned the skills to work well with others, which will take on much more importance in your post-high school years.  Teamwork is crucial in life but it doesn’t mean you can’t spread your wings and show your individual colors.  You will many opportunities—most of you will have held three or four jobs by time you reach the age of 30.  That doesn’t mean you’re a slacker, it means that you’ll have the opportunity to try different fields, different companies, different avenues.

These days it is unusual to find someone under the age of 40 who hasn’t held a number of jobs, sometimes in different industries.It is not written anywhere that you must pick a career and stay with it until your retirement.  Despite our current economy, you will have choices and you should make as many as you can.

In 2011 you have instant access to information and people.  You text and message your friends to get the latest in your social circles.  Remember that technology not only keeps you in touch with family and friends, it keeps you in touch with the world.  There is a lot of world history being made now and you ignore it at your own peril.  Some may say that ancient history is boring, but living history is now and immediate.  Your elders were right when they said that history repeats itself.  Everything going on in places like the Middle East is just a new version of what has gone on in centuries past.  There is very little new under the sun, it’s just packaged differently.

You should have learned from your early childhood days right through school to be nice to people.  That’s a lesson that will do you good to the end of your days.  People respond to kindness with kindness; the most sour  or angry personality can be soothed with a kind word or gesture.  Being kind and polite and tolerant doesn’t cost a dime but the pay off  will be huge. There is little moral victory in trodding on those who are different from you.

It’s a new, independent life you’re being invited into.  What you feel as you leave the halls of your school is what your fellow students feel—scared, uncertain.  You should help each other, encourage each other, root for each other.  It’ll make life easier and better for you and your friends, new and old.

Go out into the world, keep learning, do you what you love, move around the country and the world and for Pete’s sake, learn how to do your own laundry.

—LAZ