Congratulations are in order. I celebrate this mile marker you are crossing and I am proud of you.
“Now you are going into the wider world…”, on my graduation from Secondary school, I heard this phrase from pretty much every keynote speaker who I had the pleasure or was it displeasure? of listening to. It was like one of those poorly rehearsed speeches and badly coined phrases to deter me from getting the experience.
I didn’t at the time understand what they meant, and I didn’t want to think too much of it, but the phrase stuck in my head and it was reinforced by another thought. I went around with the notion of a wider world without fully appreciating it’s meanings.
I don’t know if it has been said to you, but today, allow me to join the ranks of the boringly cliche, slightly older people, who will use a phrase as abstract as it can get without much care of explaining myself. “Welcome to the wider world”!
In your case, I know you fellas are smart, you now have the World Wide Web! If that doesn’t pass as one of the supreme manifestation of our cliches of welcoming you into the world then what can I say?
As you gear up for life after school, let me encourage you to do things that you love doing. Read as much as you can cause you’re going to have some time at the moment. Visit friends, we should never substitute the importance of personal meeting over internet connection, and learn a trade.
Learn a skill! Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Go and learn a trade! It is not beneath your status as a secondary school graduate to learn tailoring or carpentry or barbing.
In case you haven’t noticed already, another phrase is going to become all too familiar in the coming days, “there is no money” or several other variations of the phrase. There really is no money, the country is in a recession and things are not looking all to bright.
If there’s going to be a time for you to learn frugality, this is going to be it.
I know you know about the slay queen trend, melanin beauty and the sort; which in my opinion only tries to appeal to your baser form of humanity, to make you think more about your shape and color of your body other than your value as a human.
You are beautiful just as you are, when you grow older, you will know that what you thought was a flaw will be one of your biggest asset.
I can assure you of this.
I know school prepared you for getting admission immediately after graduation; well some might have favour shine upon them and others will still have to wait for God’s plan for them. Don’t get sad if your plans don’t fit in together as you anticipated, we are humans after all, we propose plans but God in his ways determines them.
I am sure you have observed my constant use of God’s name? Well, it’s one of those things you come to enjoy doing. At first it will sound forced when mother makes you go to church on the weekdays for Bible study; then you discover youth fellowship and other events, I hope you fellowship in the right manner and not do the fellowship of the illegitimate.
I am not limiting my use of “God” in this context to mean only that of the Christian faith, our number 1 public enemy in Nigeria is religion. As much as I want you to have faith in something, I do not want you to carry that fanatic flair around and wave it like a magic wand when you don’t get your wish.
At this stage, I want you to know that all your actions have consequences, I know you are an impressionable young fellow and you have your “I Know” moments. Let’s just say that if those “I know” moments clash with that of mom or dad too often, you might want to reconsider that which you think you know.
I want you to be brave, brave enough to be honest to yourself. Brave enough to speak out when a wrong has been committed against you. Brave enough to ask for what you want and to work hard for what you want.
Be brave to stand up for others,which is the ultimate manifestations of bravery.
I want you to be confident, people don’t like confidence in young people, but I pray that for your sake, you be confident. There’s a slight boundary between being rude and being confident, thread that line with caution.
I pray you find something you love doing and make a passion out of it. I think your school prepared you for the blue collar jobs, what they failed to tell you was that the world no longer has space for blue collars. The only blue collar you will see are on Facebook and Twitter.
As you proceed from here, I want you to categorically know that our world is an evil place, and nobody is shielding you anymore. People who are close to you may try to rape and take advantage of you, some will steal from you, and others will want to use you for money rituals. God forbid! I know, but I want you to be careful of being too trusting. Don’t trust me as well, I have my moments of human weakness.
As much as I will always love and try to protect you, I do not have the eyes of God and my sight is limited. You however may be in a situation which can get sticky or out of hand. Follow your instincts.
I have a lot I want to tell you, but your keynote speaker has that daunting task. Today I am here, watching you morph into the beautiful person you were born to be, I don’t have tears in my eyes and I can’t say how excited I am at not having to seat through one of those boring PTA meetings your school so brazenly uses to vexs us all.
“Every day brings a chance to live free of regret and with as much joy, fun, and laughter as you can stand.” Oprah Winfrey
Finally, dear slay queens you now have stiff competition from the young and eager.
Importantly, let love lead the way. Find peace and happiness in your endeavors, don’t be too serious, smile, be youthful and exuberant, read a few good books, learn about politics and economics, you will thank me later.