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5 bits of wisdom to the graduating class of 2018

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By Molly Haines

The year I graduated high school just happened to coincide with the emergence of a particular brood of cicadas. I had longed for a party in my parents' side yard under a towering ash tree to celebrate my entrance into adulthood. Sadly, the foul odor of dead cicadas canvassing our yard crushed my dreams. All summer long, buzzards swooped down into our yard to feast on the cicadas, and not too long after that, the once-beautiful ash tree became victim to the ash borer beetle.
Now, if I'm honest, this story could perfectly sum up my high school experience. It sounds morbid, I know – but I was not a model student. I may well have been the worst Algebra student ever to grace the math wing of Franklin County High School.
Moreover, I just knew I was ready to jump headfirst into adulthood and leave those first 18 years of my life far behind me.
Today, I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong. I was not ready.
As I sat on the floor in front of the stage at Owen County High School Saturday morning, I couldn't help but think that a few students who received their diploma were likely in the same place as I was the day I graduated.
Since that day, the life lessons and experiences I've received have been invaluable. Those four years of high school that I thought would be the toughest of my life were a drop in the bucket compared to what came next.
And so, following this year's commencement ceremonies, I sat down and jotted out the top five bits of wisdom that I would tell my 18-year-old self if only I could go back in time and have a sit down with that young lady who thought she knew it all.
5.) Your high school career does not define you. Maybe you didn't win an award this year, or perhaps you didn’t win one your entire high school career. Maybe it was a struggle for you to receive a passing grade in that one subject you never could quite get the hang of -- this does not make you any less of a person. We all wish to succeed, but you have your entire life ahead of you to do just that – and I am confident that each of you will seize the opportunity when it comes.
4.) 10 years from now, it is unlikely that you will remain close with those you considered to be your best friends in high school. That's OK. At your age, you are changing and growing as a person every single day – but always remember those four years when you and your group of friends were inseparable. Cherish those memories, and years from now when you see an old friend of yours struggling, reach out and offer a helping hand or a kind word. In a world that can be so cruel, knowing that an old friend still cares and hasn’t forgotten the good times you shared can make all the difference.
3.) Money isn’t everything. Those first few years on your own are tough, some of you will scrimp and save and still live paycheck-to-paycheck – but I can confidently tell you that there is little more rewarding than putting in an honest day’s work and knowing that you earned that paycheck yourself. At the end of the day, you may not be able to afford everything you want, but knowing your needs are met, the roof over your head and the clothes on your back are yours is a lot more important than a name brand shirt or a fancy car.
2.) My life’s motto: “Don’t you ever go gettin’ above your raisin’.” You were raised in a rural area, in a community where everyone knows your name and what you’re up to at practically any time of the day. The small-town life isn’t for everyone, but no matter where you roam, what job you take, what car you drive or how much money you make, you are better than no one and no one is better than you. When someone asks you where you’re from, it is my hope that each of you will stand up proudly and say, “Owen County, Kentucky!” Remember the ones in your hometown who cheered you on every step of the way, the people that knew you were destined for greatness. The people who loved and supported you regardless of any mistakes you made – the people who helped mold and shape you into the person you are today. No matter where this life takes you, they will always be here at home awaiting a visit or a phone call from you. I beg of you, do not forget them and never look down your noses at the place you once called home.
1.) “The good Lord does not put more on us than we can stand.” That bit of wisdom comes courtesy of my Mama, but I’ll never forget the day she imparted it to me. I grew up in a Christian home, attending Sunday school and church regularly, but for many years I cast my faith aside, thinking that I could make it through this life without the Lord on my side. Boy, was I wrong. The day I stopped praying and trusting in the Lord and His sacrifice for us was the day I started struggling. I am reminded of the old hymn, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.”
“Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
So, to the class of 2018, during these first few years of adulthood and beyond, when you begin to struggle and when life becomes a little more than what you bargained for – take it to the Lord in prayer. Trust in the power of prayer and remember, He will never put more on you than you can stand.
The staff of your hometown newspaper and this community as a whole are cheering you on every step of the way, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for each and every one of you.

Molly Haines has served as editor of The News-Herald since 2014.