Saturday, my stepdaughter, Charis, graduated from Sierra Lutheran High School. She’s worked hard and earned several accolades in both sports and academics along the way. I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to watch it all, cheerleading from the sidelines.
This will not be my first graduation — far from it. During my career, I’ve covered hundreds of them, I’m sure. As an instructor for Western Nevada College’s Jump Start program, I’ve seen my own students walk across the stage.
I’ve written several columns giving my advice to the new graduates, helping guide them through the transition into adulthood.
But this one is different. It’s the most special.
And instead of giving advice, I want to point out to Charis the lessons in life she’s already learned well and will continue to shape her into the adult she wants to become.
1. Kindness. Anyone who knows Charis would describe her as kind. I will forever be grateful for her kindness. Coming into a family, especially not having raised kids of my own, it could have been problematic. Charis embraced me with open arms and a loving spirit. I hope she continues to believe the best about people — and that people live up to those expectations.
2. Working Hard. As soon as Charis turned 16, she got a part-time job. She values independence, and she knows it takes work to get there. Her teachers see it. Her coaches see it. Her employers see it. The girl gets stuff done. And she will do great things.
3. Good Friend. Again, her kindness comes into play when it comes to forming relationships. Wherever Charis goes, there also goes a mob of young people. That’s not to say she never has disagreements, but she also knows how to work through them. And she does it all with an easy laughter and sense of fun. Surrounding yourself with good friends will help create the support system you need to overcome challenges and celebrate success throughout the rest of your life.
4. Determination. I recently had a conversation with Charis where she said she wanted to become completely self-sufficient as quickly as possible after graduation. We talked about some options, but mostly, it will come down to her grit — which she has in spades. I have no doubt she will find a way to accomplish all she sets her mind to.
5. Clear is Kind. I recently heard “clear is kind” as a way of establishing boundaries and expectations. It’s such a struggle for most people (ahem, me) to learn. But for Charis, it seems to come naturally. Charis lets you know what she wants, and that clarity makes it easier to help her. I appreciate it, and it will serve her well in future personal and professional relationships.
I know I said I wasn’t going to give advice. But, I just can’t help myself. In addition to these attributes she already has, there’s just one thing I’d add: Believe in yourself.
I can so easily see your wonderful qualities, as can most everyone else. Believe that it’s true.
And at the base of it all, know you’re loved. By so many people.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at email@example.com.