Learning From the Next Generation: Monumental Moments in May

May is a month of transitions. It’s the month before spring burns off into summer. It’s the time when the school year ends and the “other year” begins. This year, May is full of some big life transition moments in my family. Two college graduations, a sweet 16 birthday, a wedding. While no huge transitions are in store for me this month, I say goodbye and hello and take inspiration from the younger generation.

Graduation of brothers
Saturday, I was lucky to join my mom, dad, stepmom, two sisters, brother-in-law, niece, and future niece-in-law for the graduation of Nephew #1 and Nephew #2. Brothers, not twins, as a year-and-a-half splits their birthdays, they were graduating together. The younger one graduated in three years with two majors, busy and ready for the next steps. The older one relished time to pursue some passions besides school. I remember giving them piggy back rides and walking with them to the library and playground when they came to visit as toddlers. It’s amazing to see them and hear them, in their 20-and-21-year-old confidence. They are carving out and living their own lives and it will be exciting to see where events take them. Nephew #1 landed a job working with students on college campuses–perfect for a fresh college grad with his outgoing personality and talents. He starts training in North Carolina in June. Nephew #2 gets married in less than three weeks! He and his fiancée are running a half-marathon together and they will spend the summer together before looking at new challenges. They face a year of long distance marriage as my nephew heads off to law school in Washington, D.C. while his wife will remain working at her present job. I admire their fortitude, dedication, and grit!

Sweet sixteen
My niece is the classic baby of the family, especially being the only sister with two brothers. She’s ringing in her new year a little later this month with a party of friends and family. She’ll soon get her driver’s license and she ponders college and career choices with two years of high school left. She has a self-confidence at fifteen-almost-sixteen that I have never quite possessed. I can learn from her example.

Advice from the young ‘uns
While there are lots of cheesy graduation cards and schmaltzy birthday cards, which I could load down with my own advice and expectations, instead I am taking hypothetical advice and learning from the nephews and niece. I admire them, the choices they are making, the lives they are leading. I am proud of them and I take heart in the lessons they have taught me from a distance. Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned from them, as expressed in those “reach for the stars” slogans found in said graduation and birthday cards.

1. Set your goals high, but actually work for them.
2. Have confidence in yourself. If you don’t, who will?
3. Dream big for your life and then live it.
4. Be serious, but have fun along the way.
5. Earn your wings, but know when to ask for help.

And with that, I need to go find some cards. I’m a bit late in giving out my graduation gifts. . .

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