A little advice

FI-EditorialThe senior class of Greenwich High School is set to cast off into the wild blue yonder this week. But before they go, some advice from the source they surely trust most implicitly … a newspaper.

The GHS graduation set for Friday is not an isolated incident. Oh no, it’s actually a culmination of several weeks of what could be called “graduation season” in Greenwich. First it was Brunswick School, then it was Greenwich Academy, then Convent of the Sacred Heart and then, finally, this week it’s time for GHS to have the chance to celebrate the achievements of its senior class.

Before they do there will be some advice imparted both on the stage by educators, classmates and speakers and, more privately, by older family members and friends.

While the students of today might not want to believe it, with age does come wisdom. There’s no guarantee, mind you, that it’s always “good” wisdom. But life experiences are an excellent teacher and, as students move on to the new challenges of colleges, universities, trade schools and the job market, there are important things to hear.

So here’s a little more, taken right from the word of an author who knew that indulging in the absurd was an underrated path.

Don’t panic.

The late, great Douglas Adams made that the centerpiece of his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe series, and if you don’t recognize that this advice is best accompanied by an eyeless green face pressing its hands to its head and razzing you with its tongue, then you are missing out. But even if the reference completely flies over your head, the advice is still worth hearing.

Take it from people who have seen major crisis after major crisis end up being nothing more than a learning experience. Doom sometimes seems as certain as the sunrise. And this will not just be in college, but in your career and your life.

But don’t panic.

Things are always going to seem worse than they actually are. There will always be problems and they will always cause stress. But they will always be fixed. Things have a way of working out, maybe not in the way that was originally envisioned, but in a way that gets you from point A to point B.

That doesn’t mean sitting back and waiting for problems to solve themselves. Proactive beats reactive. But it does mean that there are going to be challenges that always seem insurmountable — academically, personally and professionally — that make high school seem like kindergarten when all you had to worry about was your crayons breaking. You will worry intensely about how you’re possibly going to get through this, but if you push through, knowing when to ask for help and recognizing there are always people who can assist you, then you will suddenly see it wasn’t nearly as bad as you feared.

You will learn that panic only ends up wasting time. Even when it seems like whatever you face is completely overwhelming, it’s actually not. It’s not always going to be pretty and it’s not always going to be fun, but there’s always another day about to start with a fresh chance to make it better.

It’s how that happens that remains unclear. Award-winning writer Tom Stoppard used theater as a metaphor for life when declaring the natural condition of it to be one of “insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.” And when asked what you’re supposed to do, the response is that strangely it all turns out well.

How, you might ask. Well, it’s a mystery. But you’re going to find out and you’re going to learn a lot along the way.

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