black male graduate *I started thinking about this year’s high school and college graduates a few days ago, and what advice I could offer them that would serve as a blueprint for their future.  So, here it is.

Find your gift and give it to the world.

Whether you discover your natural talents and gifts early in life or later in life, commit yourself to mastering them and sharing them with the world.  The world is waiting for your gifts and talents.

Find your passion and pursue it.

Unfortunately, far too many people rely upon a job to give them a false sense of purpose.   But purpose is fueled by your passion.  If you’re not passionate about what you do, then it probably has very little to do with your true purpose.

Also, the stress of finding a job in order to repay student loans and/or monthly expenses can pressure you into settling for an unfulfilling job outside of your field of interest. The sense of purpose either gets lost or remains undiscovered once you’re launched out into the real world and are faced with the need to survive. 

However, don’t allow the “rat race” or the quest for the proverbial “American Dream” to distract you from identifying and living out your true purpose.  The key is to find out what you’re deeply passionate about, and what it is that gives you a sense of meaning and fulfillment and pursue that.

Find a cause and be willing to die for it.

Unlike the previous two centuries when fighting on the front lines for what one believed in could mean a matter of life and death, the chances of being killed or having to die fighting for certain rights are unlikely nowadays.  However, this doesn’t necessarily mean there are no causes worth fighting and dying for anymore.

Be careful not to be lulled into indifference and complacency because life is good for you and yours.  You don’t have to be a hostile agitator protesting and boycotting in the streets, but at least find out what’s deeply important to you and be willing to sacrifice your reputation, your life and your image serving that purpose.

Find your voice and tell us something we haven’t already heard.

There are both pros and cons to the surge in content online, on mobile devices, on air and in print.   One of the pros is that you have free and unlimited access to content and information whenever you want it.   The con is that much of what you read and hear has been said for the last few decades.  It can be a challenge to find a fresh voice with fresh insight because the majority of people simply recite what others have previously said. 

Avoid the temptation to parrot the words, thoughts and opinions of everyone else.  Find your own voice and tell us something new in your own unique way. 

Find your God-given place in the world and occupy it without fear.

There is a place designed just for you.  And you are individually designed for that place.   Your personal power and influence is in that particular place. 

Don’t allow anyone to dissuade nor discourage you from operating fearlessly in your place in the world.

Find at least one person who truly believes in you.

Finding people who genuinely believe in you and who authentically support your aspirations can be a challenge. 

Although family members and friends love you dearly, they are often too familiar with you and sometimes minimize and discount your ability to achieve the impossible.  Or they want to lock you into what they feel is a “safe” place for you.

The key is to find at least one person who truly believes in you—someone who will support your goals and encourage you during periods of self-doubt.

Find the good in every living soul.

Human beings are fully flawed and consistently imperfect.   But regardless of the vices and misdeeds of others, nobody is all bad. 

Passing judgment has always been too easy.  Therefore, it is important to take into consideration the life experiences of each individual.  The key is to exercise mercy and strive to identify the good in others.

Find the courage to be different.

God created individuals not clones.  There will always be an expectation to conform to the majority and the norm.  There is comfort and safety in familiarity and similarity. 

However, if you don’t fit in with a certain group or crowd, don’t attempt to change who you are for the sake of “belonging.”  Value your uniqueness.  Your difference is an asset.

Find people who know more than you and allow them to either mentor you or help you.

It doesn’t matter how much you think you know, there is always someone who knows more.  They have either been where you aspire to go, or they know a little something about how to help you get there.  Be humble enough to listen.  And realize there’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom.   You will need a blend of both to accomplish your goals and fulfill your dreams.

Find personal integrity and be true to your convictions.

Be who you are and stand for what you believe.  Don’t allow ideologies or the opinions of others and the quest for the ideal to cause you to lie about your reality. 

Good advice, accountability and wise counsel are important.  However, don’t allow any individual, organization or institution to dictate to you what decisions to make and what actions to take.  Trust your conscience and follow it.

Find solutions.

There’s more than enough to complain about in the world.  And there’s certainly enough blame to go around.  Needless to say, there are countless books, articles, blogs, news programs and documentaries that are dedicated to highlighting the plethora of problems that plague our society.    But you have an opportunity to bring 21st Century solutions to the world.

Whether people listen to you or not, be determined to bring either an answer or an alternative to the table.

Find the heart to always forgive.

The likelihood that you’ll be hurt or disappointed by those closest to you is high.   And depending upon what exactly it is, it could leave you emotionally, psychologically or even spiritually wounded. 

The key is to forgive quickly so that hurt, bitterness and resentment don’t fester within your heart and reflect negatively in your attitude. 

Forgiving is simply letting it go so that you can become the best you that you can be. 

Dana L. Stringer is a freelance writer, playwright, poet and activist based in Southern California.  You may contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Facebook and Twitter: @danalstringer.

dana l stringer

Dana L. Stringer