Dear Recent High School Graduates,
As a teacher, I probably shouldn’t be telling you this. In fact, I’m going to offend some of my colleagues and possibly irk your parents, but I’m going to say it anyway: High school is just practice. Now is when real life begins.
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Before you set fire to your algebra book, hear me out.
High school is important and integral to your personal growth. The people, the teachers and the academia challenge you and help to mold you into the person you are on graduation day, that sweating person in the polyester gown, cap sliding sideways on your slick head. High school provides great opportunities to excel, make bad memories and, of course, get a solid education. Those things are irreplaceable.
All that said, it isn’t necessarily real.
High school is containment within four walls and a bell yelling at you to sit and stand. Teachers talking at you about topics you may or may not be interested in, and then you proving what you have retained, and that proof impacts what you are able to do after high school. That proof makes a decision for you before you even realize there is a decision to be made.
What is real is you. What you do within those four walls, in between bells, and with the opportunities that come your way is real. And now that you’re out of high school with so many options in front of you, what will you choose? Where will you go? What will you do?
Hopefully, you’ll go to a baseball game. While high school is good preparation, baseball is life.
I can hear you saying, “Has this lady lost her mind?” The answer is maybe, but since I’ve graduated from high school, college and graduate school, the educational hierarchy says you have to listen to me. Also, I’m old and know stuff.
Graduation is the call up to the big leagues, and as you navigate your way through this crazy world, keeping these things in mind will help create some perspective for you. Everything you need to know about succeeding in life, you will learn from baseball.
Practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes better. The goal isn’t perfection, it’s your best. Best is relative to your efforts, and you get out of life what you put in.
Always take your best swing. You might strike out, but you’ll never hit a home run if you hold back.
Baseball is a team endeavor, so be a team player. Everyone wants to win, but if you are lucky enough to belong to a group that is there to pick you up after you trip, losing won’t seem so bad.
Listen to your coach. Being the MVP of the game doesn’t negate the fact that you have a mentor whose purpose is helping and supporting you. Don’t shake off every sign, but also don’t be afraid to take the reigns and lead the way.
Life levels the playing field. Right now, no one cares about your batting average from last year. What matters is today, so make the most of it.
Have fun! As a rookie, you can’t possibly realize that this time is fleeting, but you’re going to blink your eyes and it’ll be time to hang up your cleats. Enjoy the game.
There you have it: the dirty little secret your teachers didn’t want me to share . High school is simply training for the big leagues. Promise me that when the game is tied in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, and you send home the winning run, you will throw off your helmet and join the circle of your celebrating teammates! Remember how good that feels, especially on the days when the center fielder snags your home-run ball out of the air.
Stephanie Jankowski writes at When Crazy Meets Exhaustion.