Abdul-Hakim Shabazz: A little advice for the graduates

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Abdul-Hakim ShabazzAcross the country this spring, a lot of folks walked across the stage (either in person or virtually) and got their degrees—whether it was elementary, high school, college, graduate or professional school.

Congrats to all of you and your family and friends who helped along the way.

Now with that said, here’s a little graduation advice I’ve picked up over the years that some of you might find useful.

These aren’t meant to be enshrined on stone tablets, but they should be.

1. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes, you can’t figure out the reason right away, but eventually, you do. And you will be amazed at how the tragedy was necessary for you to triumph later.

2. Fear is OK, but being afraid is not. A good healthy dose of fear helps keep the stupid stuff that can ruin your future down to a bare minimum. Being afraid means you are less likely to take risks and explore opportunities that can open lots of doors down the road.

3. The habits you developed here will either help or hinder you in the next phase of your life. So, if you have problems with punctuality, finishing tasks on time and working well with others, fix them—ASAP.

4. The only thing you are owed is to be treated with dignity and respect. And that is all you owe anybody else.

5. We will all make mistakes along the way; it’s called experience. The trick is to learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them. Repeating mistakes and expecting a different outcome is called insanity.

6. Remember, learning is a lifelong process. Never stop trying to improve yourself. That will come in handy in 2050 when the androids show up to do your job. And it will be more important in 2060 when they begin their takeover of the world.

7. When getting your information from social media, remember, if you have to click more than three times to get to the ACTUAL story, what you’re reading is probably wrong.

8. Find a job that makes you happy. You will live to whatever income you make, so it will never be enough, but if you love what you do for a living, the paycheck is worth it. And remember to save a little for a rainy day and feel free to splurge on occasion.

9. Before you dismiss the advice of older people, remember, they didn’t get to be old by being stupid. A lot of young people are lying in the ground right now who thought they knew everything.

10. Have a sense of humor. Be able to laugh, with others and at yourself. Life’s too short to be “mad as hell” 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s not good for your health and it makes you age quicker. And watch the movie “Blazing Saddles.” This will make perfect sense once you do.

Of course, this list isn’t inclusive; I am sure there are things you could add or modify. For example, don’t believe everything everyone tells you. Do your homework on important issues. As we say in the news business, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out with your dad.” My other favorite example is, “I have found the people who tend to say education doesn’t matter usually don’t have one.” So keep that in mind.

The fun part of life is just about to begin.•


Shabazz is an attorney, radio talk show host and political commentator, college professor and stand-up comedian. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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