In just a handful of days the Oakdale High School Class of 2017 will fill the Corral, move the tassel on their respective mortarboards and begin the next chapter of their lives.
Each year about this time, I think about what wisdom I can share here with this class as they journey out into the big wide world of possibility. The reality of course is that most of them don’t read the newspaper and unless I can sum it up in less than 10 words, it would likely be missed anyhow.
This is not written as judgement toward this very educated and intelligent class but rather reflection on what I (the writer) have come to learn. It is indeed a sign of the times. Generally speaking, as a society, we read headlines and perhaps the first paragraph, form an opinion and move on.
This year I was afforded a few opportunities I have waited my entire professional career for. Yes, I know, the drama, really? That must be an overstatement, but it’s not.
For as long as I can remember, well, at minimum back to my high school days, I recall how cool it was when professionals would come speak to our class about their careers. This year, marked the first year I was given such opportunity. To say it was an honor, an understatement. To top things off I was allowed the opportunity on a few fronts. One came by way of speaking to students at OHS, the second via job shadow as part of the Oakdale Chamber program and lastly a most recent visit from some Knights Ferry School students, who came by for a tour.
Recognizing this unique opportunity, I shared with them the number one lesson I have learned in both my professional and personal life: Do what you love.
I recognize it’s an easy thing to say when you work at a job that you look forward to, rather than dread. One that continues to both challenge and teach you, but it’s also the truth. Through all the people I have spoken to, the stories I have heard and career paths shared, the ones doing what they love always have the best stories.
So on the off chance that a student happens past this in their FB feed or while hanging out at their grandparents for a family dinner, that’s my advice for you as you embark on the next chapter or the chapter after that – do what you love.
Truthfully, if you’re fortunate you’ll be able to do that a few times. When you start to lose sleep, stress too much or count the hours of a work day, it might be time to re-evaluate. As we navigate life our passions change and so too does our love for any particular career. Don’t settle on something that strips you of joy. You will spend more hours working than any other activity, make it count and make it matter. Now go, leave your mark and then ... come tell me about it. All the best Class of 2017. Cheers!
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.