Graduating high school is an incredible rite of passage, a marker on your journey of development that signals that you are casting off the last vestiges of childhood and beginning to step out on your own into adulthood. This transition from childhood to adulthood is not automatic. You don’t naturally begin to act like an adult when you turn 18, or 21, or 30. (That’s why you see some 35-year-olds with the maturity of a 16-year-old).
Above all, adulthood is a choice. You’ll start acting like an adult when you choose to do so. As the apostle Paul so aptly put it, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:12). To fully transition from childhood to adulthood, here are five transitions you’ll need to make, the transitions from:
1. Decisions based on wants to decisions based on wisdom. As a child, you make decisions based on what you want, nothing more. As adult, you’ll realize that sometimes what you want isn’t the best thing for you. True adults make decisions based on wisdom, not just wants.
2. Serving yourself to serving others. You’re born with an innate pull to serve yourself. You didn’t have to do anything to cultivate it. As an adult, you’ll take up the battle with your own selfishness and look to serve others, not just yourself. If you want any chance at being a good spouse and parent, you have to win this battle.
3. Externally motivated to internally motivated. Up to now you’ve had your parents holding your hand, telling you what to do. You’ve had teachers to poke and prod you to learn. As an adult, that fire has to come from within. You’ll find the people interested in your development drop off dramatically. You need to cultivate an inner motivation to learn and grow and achieve, because no one else will do it for you.
4. Living for the moment to living for a legacy. Life as a child is all about the moment: the next show, the next game, the next weekend. As an adult, you will care not just about the moment, but about leaving a legacy that will endure long after you’re gone. If you truly live for a legacy, it will change everything about how you make decisions.
5. A life of pleasure to a life of purpose. If you settle for it, this life will medicate you with low doses of pleasure that will numb you through the greatest years of your life. If you live life only to have fun, then you’re still a child. Adults desire to live a life of purpose. That’s what drives our willingness to work hard and sacrifice. Be a part of something greater than yourself.
Congratulations on transitioning from high school to college. May you make the transition from childhood to adulthood as well.
QUESTION: What other advice would you give graduating seniors?
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