Some of you had no desire to be here over the last four years, so good luck with that. A scintillating career in the food services industry awaits you.
Some of you were overachievers who will undoubtedly go on to big things, by force of will or because you’ve earned it. Same difference. Be careful, though, that your ambition isn’t the death of you, by either burnout or burnt bridges.
How many of the men and women who have achieved some measure of greatness, acclaim or who have made marked contributions to society and their communities jumped from student body president to Ivy League superstars? Not many.
Rather, our most informed, active and meaningful difference makers in this world did so through discovering that untapped potential, playing to their strengths and working hard.
In order to achieve those ends, it’s going to be a process of self-discovery, finding adventure in the mundane and meaning in the little things.
Now’s the time to not take yourself too seriously, while understanding not everything’s a joke. It’s balance you won’t be able to achieve today, maybe not even tomorrow. But it’s something you had better get a handle on by the time you graduate college and enter the work force for real, or you’ll spend far too much time playing catch-up and watching life pass faster than you could possibly imagine.
That applies to your social life, work life and home life; life in general.
Have fun now while you’re young, while you’re searching for a balance of light-hearted mischief and mature restraint. But be real with yourself; for the wrong personality at the right time, it’s a fine line and a gentle nudge from good times to a road needlessly traveled.
There are rites of passage, basic things society says you should be doing, like having sex, getting wasted and sowing your wild oats. Have at it. But for crying out loud, know when to say when. Know your limitations.
Drugs and alcohol kill slowly or quickly; it’s entirely up to you. Even if they aren’t the physical death of you, they can be the killer of your spirit on a level hopefully you will never have to know.
Same thing with sex. It’s great, it feels good and everything about it tells you it’s what you should be doing. We’ve got the equipment, now get to work. But at what cost to your future? When in doubt, go solo. The same creator that gave you the apparatus gave you two hands and one hell of a creative mind.
Master these few life lessons, and the world will be yours. You’ve already set your mind to working hard; what’s next? Where do you go from here?
Well, if you hate your hometown, don’t come back. You wouldn’t be doing anybody any good anyhow. Affect change — or beg for some — anywhere but here. As for the rest, we need you. We need your brains, your enthusiasm; we need whatever skills your life’s journey has taught you.
Brain drain is real, and it could be the death of this valley and its future. Imperial County has its issues, its institutional problems and problem personalities. But it’s a community of people who want to be better, and see better times.
We can’t get there without some of you. We can’t provide a future if some of you don’t commit to returning to help build it together. Older generations don’t have the benefit of youthful exuberance and fresh ideas. That’s where you come in.
Take what you want from these words, but know you’ve gotten an earful outside the standard, whether you wanted it or not. Good night and God bless.