Follow your dreams... really!I've always had mixed feelings about graduation season. The world is filled with bitter, cynical adults who'd rather complain about their lives than actually try to improve them. So I've always admired the general optimism of graduating students and appreciate the contrast with the 'mature' world.
On the other hand, the poor kids are usually subjected to characteristic adult hypocrisy. Graduating seniors are usually serenaded by speakers who urge them to follow their dreams, make a difference in the world. But graduation weekend happy talk is often just an anomaly in a relentless campaign to pressure kids to stop being 'naive' and start being 'realistic.' American society is one that values the accountants and scientists, instead of the artists or explorers. The disciplined, not the creative. The focused, not the curious. Healthy societies reject the either/or dynamic and value both.
In one of his books, Ken Dryden said something to the effect that society used to value trying to be the best person you could be and that now, the emphasis was instead being the best you could be at something. Too many adults mouth words like 'follow your dreams' but then in the next breath will urge you to get a stable, boring job. How can you know what you want if you don't explore what's out there?
Over at timesunion.com, Matt Funiciello has some pretty good advice to that effect for graduating seniors. The kind you should actually follow.