From preschool to graduation, the journey continues

As my son Kourt walked down the stairs to his 3-4-year-old preschool class Thursday for the last day of his first year of school, I realized the year had just flown by, and there is no turning back.

It’s all of those first-time parent anxieties wielding themselves in my direction — do I cry, do I hold him so tight in hopes time stops and I don’t miss a minute, I don’t want to get older and if he is getting older then so am I, after next year’s preschool class there are no more days during the week when I’m off and he’s out of school to do things, the thoughts just flow through my head, and have been even days later.

Growing up as a child, most kids can’t wait for summer, when classes are out and they can play recklessly outside, or inside, for days on end with no worries in the world. No tests to stress over, no homework assignments, no having to get up at the crack of daylight to catch the bus (my mom stayed home so I could sleep in).

But rushing to get to summer time, just means losing out on all the school-year time in our lives too, and it just rushes us to time in the real world when we get older.

Graduates this year, whether it is of high school or college, probably feel some of those same anxieties as a first-time parent might. Do I cry because I won’t see my friends every day in class anymore? Do I pretend like I’m not going to have to work a real job or start more classes, so that I can hold on tight to the youngness I still have left? Do I celebrate that classes are over and I’ve had a great accomplishment?

Commencement ceremonies already have been held for some of our area students, with Yadkin County schools graduating the seniors two weeks ago and East Wilkes last week, but Elkin and Surry students are still finishing up their last days together.

This is a time for them to celebrate great deeds, just graduating for some is a major accomplishment, while others are honored for excelling at the top of the class; it is a time to hug and say goodbye, because as much as you try to stay in touch, there will be some classmates you may not see again for years (although social media helps with that now, it didn’t exist when I graduated 19 years ago from high school or even 15 years ago when I finished college).

Emotions are mixed for most seniors, but remember, this is what you’ve work so hard for all of your life to this point. It is the climax of your educational career (unless of course you are going on to be a doctor or lawyer).

What you do next is up to you. It is your time to make decisions … on what you want to study in college, on what job/career you want to take on, on whether you follow your dreams in hopes of reaching the stars and not falling, on what you will make of your life.

Every individual decision made does not define you. It’s OK to make mistakes along the way, as long as you pick yourself up from the falls with dignity and start climbing back up the mountain toward your future and reaching your life goals along the path.

And many times your path may be covered by leaves and debris through which you must sort and part to the side. It may be hidden in the shrubbery so that around each corner is an unexpected highlight. But you will overcome and conquer each obstacle and embrace each great event, because how you handle yourself is how people will remember you.

This is your journey, make it memorable, make it count, make it something you want to be remembered for, make it enjoyable, and live life to its fullest. Well wishes to all graduates on their next move.

Wendy Byerly Wood is editor of The Tribune, The Yadkin Ripple and The Pilot. She may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

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