Stay True to Yourself A Message to Our High School Leavers and Our Older Generations Too

Well, the time has come in the Southern Hemisphere to welcome a new crowd of high school graduates into the halls of higher academia, the stalls of art and the places where people work.

We live in a baffling time when it comes to ideas and communication.

I’m a Gen Xer and never in my life have I seen a world so corrupt and so eager to stifle free speech and free thought; of social channels so artificial and cowardly; of governments so self-interested their constituencies barely count in the lobbies of power.

So this message I write, relates as equally to the 17-year old as it does to the octogenarian. It is a message to all humans alive.

And it is simply this.

There is no competition in life. Winners and losers are mortal and no one knows the measure of heart beats one or the other receives among them or in-between. Comparing yourself to someone else, is the greatest waste of time you can ever indulge.

You are now at the beginning of your productive life. Where you take it is up to you.

Research pathways you may seek but never be swayed by another human to turn one way or the other. You will hit dead ends. You will seek to alter course. Back and forward and likely back again. There is no perfect choice. The only thing you can do wrong, is give credence to the opinions of others who judge you.

Over and over again, some of our greatest minds and visionaries have been told they were bad. Only a comparative few pushed on, meaning the many who stopped are the world’s greatest tragedies.

To the 70 and 80-year olds who discover they can commercially paint, to the teens who feel they can write beyond their years, and those who dream ideas others have never seen. To the artists, labourers, office workers, trades, professionals and thinkers who’ve been squashed by lecturers, bosses, co-workers and critics: Push on.

But there’s a secret to all this.

As much as other people will put you down—and they will—there is no enemy more powerful than you. Your inner doubt is the villain. It will freeze you for no reason, make you cower against safety, make you re-measure your certainty and simply drive you into a premature baseless funk.

There’s an episode of my favourite TV series, The West Wing, where President Bartlett, wanting to spend a night reading about Galileo, is forced instead to a concert of the Icelandic Symphony. Thing is, the backstory tells us, its feature piece has only just been written, and the composer is nervous about the whole.

“It is not classical music if the guy finished writing it this afternoon”, the President said. Yet, at the concert’s end back at the White House, President Bartlett said to his press secretary:

“It was magnificent. It was genius. … I really didn’t think I could be surprised by music anymore. I thought about all the times this guy must have heard that his music was no good”.

And that’s my point.

Your journey will be hard. But if you have a dream, follow it. And if you have yet to find your direction, then dream. Ditch the naysayers as fast as you can, Rather, seek people who are unafraid to dream too. For you will inspire one another.

As a veteran Human Resources professional, one with a degree in the theory of people management, trust me when I say that of my many decades the best lesson I can teach you about carving out your ambition is this:

There is but one life we have. It is resilient. You can pick it up and dust it off many times, so long as you ignore negativity and understand that unless you’re vigilant, your greatest doubter will be you.

Good luck!

© 2018 Adam Parker.