"My hands were steady; My eyes were clear and bright; My walk had purpose; My steps were quick and light; And I held firmly; To what I felt was right; Like a rock."
~ Bob Seger ("Like a Rock," 1986)
"Griffith High School class of 1983" - at the time that seemed like such a cool thing to say.
Heck, we were going out into the world. Some would go on to college, others into the military and still more out into the work world.
With that thought, I sat in Mrs. Smith’s English class counting down the minutes on that last day. I knew that things would change, but how much, I wasn’t sure.
That was a strange day. A day that you work toward for 12 years with the expectation that you will either be struck down by a bolt of lightning or given a pot of gold on the way out the door. Anything in between seemed almost anticlimactic. I wasn’t greeted by an angelic choir complete with harpsichords, just a beautiful, sunny June day and a quiet walk home with no books or homework.
The change would occur over time, first the summer and a job at the golf course shagging balls and cleaning up around the batting cages.
A steady pay check was the first indication that things were going to be different. I could have invested in a car, but instead used it for my first semester tuition at Purdue University Calumet.
That was when things really started to change, and that is where the graduates among you, along with parents of graduates, come in. There won’t be trumpets blaring after the parties are done, there will be hard work.
It won’t be all toil; you will experience things that you never imagined when you were in high school. College is certainly a great option, but for others, the chance to make some money or see the world beckon.
For others, the greatest opportunity exists, a chance to start over again with a fresh slate. All the old habits and subcultures within high school will be replaced by a chance to make your own identity, a chance to experiment with new ideas and experiences.
Certainly, I did not go into college thinking that I might meet new people. It was a next step and I am not sure that I had any expectations. After time, though, opportunities arose and being smart and lucky in equal parts, I jumped at them.
The first thing I did was to become familiar with the campus, taking walks and starting a lifelong habit of reading bulletin board material. There I found the opportunity to write for the PUC Chronicle and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, when I see fellow classmates, we all marvel at how much we still look the same but that is a little lie that we tell to make ourselves feel young. We have all changed in much more profound ways. The eyes are still steady, as Bob Seger would say, but the gaze is a little worldlier. We’ve tried and we’ve failed and lived to tell the tale.
For you class of 1983 graduates in a position to hire and oversee new graduates, take it easy on them, they are another version of you 30 years ago, good kids just trying to make their way.