High school graduates have world ahead of them — get out, get it

It’s that time of year again. Soon we will have numerous graduating seniors. Seniors are celebrating the accomplishments of their K-12 career, and now, it is time to embark on the next step in their journey.

College, or the beginning of a career, is a time for transformation. Humans have a hard time breaking out of the personas they choose for themselves, but you, seniors, are at the perfect age to become whatever you choose.

Nobody can tell you who to become — that is a choice you make yourself. If you have a goal, go for it. It may not come very easily, but don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be met.

Know what you want and have some idea of how you will get there. You might take a different course, but never stop moving forward.

Try to make as many friends as you can. The most successful people I know are good at making friends. Join different groups, forge connections and experience people you’re unfamiliar with.

These people will bring you joy (and may even help you get a job one day). Not only that, but learning more about others will help you learn more about yourself.

Embrace the complex diversity of the people around you. Education doesn’t stop at graduation. Opportunities are everywhere, and there are always people who will share their knowledge and experiences if you are truly interested.

Also, never forget about the ones who have been closest to your heart. These friends have stood by during the childhood years, and they will probably be there during the adult ones. You will change, your friends will change, but there is always a bond there that never wavers. I, to this day, have a special place for my high school classmates.

Alcohol will play a part in your life. Don’t let it become your life. Alcohol is a major player in our society and a powerful force to deal with at any age. If you are going to college, expect that alcohol will try to jam its way into your life.

You will have different experiences based on your decision to drink or not drink. It may change your health, what you do and the people you hang out with.

Looking to drink? I can’t stop you. Want to play it sober? Great. Whatever choice you make, don’t let it dominate who you are. Alcohol is probably the main reason I graduated from college. I chose not to drink.

When my friends decided to have their parties, I would take my quart of milk. When I finished, I knew it as time to head to the library.

Without a doubt, that plan helped me to stay on course and receive the positive grades and college diploma. Don’t ever let people tell you that everyone is doing it because I can look you in the eye and tell you they are not.

Don’t allow yourself to be stupid. Let yourself feel good about learning every day.

Don’t be lazy and write off a failure or use it as an excuse to slow down. Dumb people are constantly seeking the easy way out, but the smart ones have quite the different idea.

Embrace your talents and the hurdles that you may not be able to overcome right away. If some laugh at your hard work and success, then let them laugh their lives away. Take a moment to breathe — to recognize what you have accomplished.

Then move forward with courage into the future you choose. There is a great big world out there. It’s now time for you to go out and get it.

Wayne Addison is chief probation officer at the Hancock County Probation Department.