Remember where you come from: A message to graduates

It’s that hopeful time of year. Graduation.

The month of May is about new beginnings. At least, that’s what a lot of commencement speeches are about.

Spread your wings. Reach for the stars. Go make a difference. Get after it.

All good advice, graduates. But like most things in life, there’s a balance or tension to it. And the balance to ambition is to remember where you come from.

Your youthfulness, and the invincibility that goes along with it, may not have the patience to think about what home means to you right now. You’ve got big plans, and you’re anxious to get started. This is how it should be, and we’re a grateful nation for all that ambition. It’s what is needed to continue to build this country.

Remembering where you come from doesn’t have to mean remaining physically located near the place of your upbringing. For most, our dreams simply aren’t attainable there. Rural areas of the country don’t provide the same amount or type of job opportunities found in metro areas. And depending upon your specialty, it may require moving to a specific region of the country.

But it does mean to keep home in the recesses of your heart. Even a less than perfect coming of age story—still, is a story. Your unescapable one. You can’t rewrite history, but you can accept and appreciate how this history formed you. Through achievements and failures, loyal family and friends, and betrayals—the experiences have all helped to make you the person you are today.

home heart

Image by Shutterstock.

You can’t change home. To do so, would be to deny who you are.

I’m not a Prince zealot, but I am an admirer of something he did better than most. He single-mindedly pursued his passion, while remembering where he came from.

Somehow, he knew how to do this at the untested age of 18. In “Prince: Chaos, Disorder, and Revolution,” Jason Draper gives voice to Prince’s reflections on how hard it was for a band to make it in Minnesota versus being on either coast. Still, he didn’t abandon his roots and was eventually rewarded for it. “Little did he realize that, in ten years time, he would have turned Minneapolis into a new center of cool, and would be running his own label and hi-tech recording studio out of it.”

It would have been easy to leave. Minneapolis wasn’t known for its recording industry. But he stayed, and his musical genius launched the “Minnesota Sound.” And through the years, the Twin Cities area remained home to Prince.

The balance to ambition is home.

Prince provided an extremely successful example of pursuing your dreams, while remembering where you come from. Not many can do that, but it’s worthy to emulate to the degree that you can.

You now have the chance to write your own epic adventure. Let that quest take you where it needs to take you. Some of you will even have the vision, drive and talent to be a Prince—to be at the top of your game in your chosen profession. This is the land of opportunity. Get after it.

Just once in a while, as the successes and victories are coming in, look back at where you came from and pay homage. It’s where your story began. It’s an important piece.

Allow gratitude to seep in, and look to home with a thankful heart.

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