Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Guideposts For Graduates

May 29, 1995

Dear graduate:

You have finally made it. You are about to embark upon the journey of life. The foundation has been laid for your success. The rest is up to you. Here are some guideposts to help you along the way.

  • Seek and embrace truth about yourself and the world around you. To the best of your ability, solve the mystery of life and eternity. Be a believer. Know that truth comes from many sources, not the least of which are adversity, pain and loss. Find meaning in your experiences. Let your faith be your strength in your hour of need.
  • Learn from others. There is wisdom all around you. In college, seek out the best teachers. In life, do the same. Set your ego aside. Know that you have nothing to prove by reinventing the wheel when wheel-makers are willing to share what they know. Your greatest skill will be your ability to listen. It is the key to many doors.
  • Let reality be your teacher. Accept the world as it is and work for the way it should be. Reach for the stars but keep your feet on the ground.
  • If it is success you want, find a need and fill it with quality. Then sell it to others. Finding the need is harder than you think. Yet needs are all around you. There is no shortcut to quality. Excellence is up to you. Even then, all your good works will come to naught if you don't connect with those who need what you have to offer. There is no shortage of opportunity.
  • Dream your dreams! Think big. I mean really big! You are only limited by your vision of yourself and your imagination. If you can conceive it, it is within your power. You can judge your stature as a leader by the problems you attempt to solve.
  • Take risks. You will learn from mistakes and from failure. Volunteer for something hard and grow into it. Great accomplishments have small beginnings. Fear is your enemy, courage is your ally, love is your comfort.
  • Be a "can do" person. Find a way or make one. Failure will come before success, and success will come before rewards. Great people are ordinary people with extraordinary determination. Get up one more time than you've been knocked down. Pay the price, whatever it is. You can do it.
  • Work hard. Your drive and energy will carry you further than your talent. Much, much further. Learn what you are good at and what you enjoy. When you find this combination, your work will flow from you with energy and enthusiasm.
  • Don't be distracted. There are far too many activities and entertainments unworthy of your time or love. The world can lull you into complacency or entangle you in trivia.
  • Give it away. The good you do will come back to you. Do more than others expect. Be a part of someone else's success. There are others around you who share your interest. Find them. Exchange ideas. Be accessible to those who want to learn from you and build on your efforts. The power of a team is greater than one man or woman working alone.
  • Make service to others a part of your life. It is the pathway to joy. Your capacity to love grows once you dare loosen the chains of self. You are young. You have been a child. The bud that you are now will open and give fragrance to the world. Be a friend and good neighbor to those you meet along your path.
  • Share the journey. The journey of life needs to be shared to be enjoyed. A solitary triumph is hollow compared to a shared victory. Don't be afraid of marriage and having children. You will discover well springs of growth and love in these timeless associations. All your striving has to be balanced with the nourishment and support of a loving family. This precious companionship requires time, attention, creativity, energy and love.
  • Enjoy each day. This is a magnificent world. There is much beauty to see, many wonders to discover. Don't so burden your soul with cares, worries and striving that you miss the joy of the moment.
  • Be flexible. In some ways, you are unprepared for what is to come. Life will teach you some lessons we did not or could not teach you. You will face disappointment and discouragement. Make your darkest hour your finest hour.
  • Be patient. Life is never easy. You will be pushed and stretched into new struggles, new dreams and new adventures. There will never be a time when you can safely say, "My work is done, my learning is complete, my service is over."

Dear graduate, this is your time. Make the best of it.