What Would You Tell the Class of 2010?

“You cannot teach people anything. You can only help them discover it within themselves.” ~Galileo

What would you say?

As a publicist, I get to watch a lot of interviews, which means I watch people ask a lot of questions.  Whether it’s print, TV, or radio, I’ve they’ve run the gamut, from funny questions, factual questions, a few bad or misplaced questions to insightful questions.  Insightful questions are the ones that can scare me the most as a publicist. The person answering can really go off the deep end with those sometimes which is never good.  However, as a journalism student, these are the ones I love, the ones I can’t wait to hear answered because the person answering didn’t prepare and you can usually tell a lot about them in those few quick moments.

On a recent radio tour with two of our authors, one a country star and the other a very prominent songwriter, I heard my favorite question asked.

As I said, normally these types of questions scare me a bit, especially when you’re dealing with a well known author. In those cases,  you have the questions already planned.  The interviewer has a list of questions he/she can ask as well as a list of what is off the table to ask.  Everything has to be planned.  Luckily for me, the question was asked of the singer by the songwriter, a friend of his, in the few spare moments as they were checking the mics and lining up the stations on the phone lines.

I was in the sound room talking with the producers, publisher and marketing director, not really listening to the chit chat the mic was picking up of the conversation in the next room.  Then all the sudden I noticed the whole mood of the conversation changed.  The singer was talking about faith, family, what he has learned in life and what he wished he could tell others.

I turned to my publisher, who had also zeroed in on this conversation and asked, “What did he just get asked?”

“He (the songwriter) asked him what he would say to the graduating class of his high school if he were to go back and give the graduation speech,” she said, not even looking at me and trying to catch every word of this conversation.

What a great question. I decided then that songwriters would make excellent journalists.  I never really thought about it before but these writers have to know who they are writing for so well. With that one odd question, the singer who was used to all the same bland, scripted questions and was used to giving an automatic response, opened up.  In a few short sentences, you knew what meant most to him.

So…forget the dinner party, rowboat and even the desert island question.  I wanted to ask those closest to me as well as those who I’ve met through blogging, “If you could go back to your high school to tell the class of 2010 something…what would it be?”

During May, the graduation month, I will have guest posts from new friends and tried and true friends, young and old, people who inspire, people who teach, people who make me smile, and people who are passionate about life, all answering that question.  I can’t wait to share these with you!  Like me, you probably didn’t pay much attention to your high school graduation speaker but you’re going to love these.

Isn’t the saying, I wish I knew then what I knew now?  Think of how much you’ve learned since high school.  What would you tell the students?

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18 thoughts on “What Would You Tell the Class of 2010?

  1. Although I never thought i would be here, the one thing to share is enjoy the moments, stop and breathe. Take in all you can, as important as education so is the connection with family friends and life. One day you will be looking back instead of forward, the time in between is the journey, and the jouney only takes a heartbeat. So breath deeply today, get ready for the ride of your life, highs lows and lulls love tears and work. All defining moments for it will define who you are. I envy you the journey but I am blessed by my own. Ready set GO!

  2. I would tell them not to be afraid of failure and to be flexible with their life goals. Don’t let fear keep you from doing what you dream of. Work hard, play hard, love hard and don’t do anything that might end up on Facebook and kill your chances with a future employer.

  3. Beautiful post. My current job is writing resolutions from the general assembly to people they want to honor. I hate to admit it, but it’s easy to get jaded to certain types of honorees, while others move me deeply.

    As I write the ones to valedictorians, I often find myself thinking “it’s awesome you worked so hard to get here, but I wish I could tell you that this list of clubs you’ve been president of just really isn’t going to matter.” The ones that really get to me are the couples who have been married 60 years, or the unsung heroes of communities who are being honored for their public service, or the teenage girl for whom I wrote a posthumous resolution honoring her organ donation after she was killed in a car wreck.

    You don’t hear their names a lot, and for every one of these that some legislator thought to submit, there are tens or even hundreds more who are not getting honored. They’re the ones who make the difference, just like all the amazing people here in Nashville who will never be on the news for volunteering to sandbag, help at shelters, or clean out devastated neighborhoods.

    So, I guess what I’d have thought of as greatness as a teenager has drastically changed. If I could go back, I’d talk about the above. I’d also mention one of my favorite verses in recent years, I Thessalonians 4:11–“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you.”

    And, though it’s from a less inspired source than the Bible :), I really liked what Conan O’Brien had to say on his last show:

    “All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism- it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere.

    Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

    I wish I’d have really understood these things when I was 17.

    (Thanks for indulging my writing a blog post on your blog post!)

  4. I would tell them to believe that they are cooler than they think. It’s easy to lmiss out on great friends and opportunities if you are always trying to be cool. Just know that you are.

  5. those bangs? yeah those bangs you er..i..had in high school – you’ll definitely regret them. i mean, if they are the cool hipster kind you’re okay, but the string tried to be round brushed under kind…ummmm….

    grow them out immediately.

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