To the Graduates of the Class of 2021: Did You Carpe Annum?

Did you carpe annum – “seize the year” – this past year? How well did you carpe annum? Perhaps these questions can help you answer this question:
What did I do this past year that I have never done before?
What was my most outstanding achievement?
What did I celebrate?
Where did I extend myself versus pullback?
What was a memorable book I read; an amazing podcast I listened to?
What made this past year more satisfying?
What gave me hope?
What gave me stability?
What valuable lesson did I learn this past year?
What is the quote that summarizes this past year for me?
What got etched into my memory this past year that I will never forget?

“My life feels like a test I didn’t study for.” – Unknown

Were you tested on patience, self-awareness, and self-control this past year? College admissions counselors are checking to see if you passed these three behaviors as part of being accepted to their institutions. They are also interested in how open and curious you are. It indicates your ability to learn and grow.

Let’s acknowledge what a year you graduates of 2021 experienced! Perhaps the greatest experience was of denial! How did denial show up in your life? Denial indicates a learning disability and ignorance of the truth. Denial is an addiction in which reality is distorted, including ignoring the problem, minimizing concerns, and blaming others. Denial is a coping mechanism used to justify or rationalize warped thinking and ugly behavior.

“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t going away.”     – Elvis Presley

We have a crisis of denial of the 2020 Presidential Election results. Some are calling the election “The Big Lie.” More than 60 lawsuits brought by POTUS 45 and his allies failed due to a lack of evidence to prove their allegations. Numerous state election recounts have revealed no voter fraud. Question: Suppose there was a referendum on governance in the United States. Would you vote for the Constitution and democracy or vote for despotism and disarrangement?

“I grew up as a democrat, so I always thought that it was just half the government that was evil. But now, of course, I’m a little bit more of a grown-up, and I understand that it’s actually one-party rule – and it’s professional wrestling.” – Jimmy Dore

We have denial in vaccination against COVID. Where do our rights over our bodies end, and our duty to the common good begin? In a pandemic event, shouldn’t personal liberty be second to public safety? COVID has revealed our fear and distrust. As I write this, 1 in 4 Americans will not take a COVID vaccination, thus making herd immunity much harder to achieve.

“Ignorance does not make you fireproof when the world is burning.” – Nelou Keramati

We are in denial about our health. There has been an average weight gain of over twenty pounds during the lockdown.

“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” – Maya Angelou

We are in denial about loving our neighbor as ourselves. We see people who have a different belief not as opponents but as enemies. Diplomacy has turned to bomb-throwing.

It’s easy to talk about how much you love God, but loving others reveals how much you truly do. – Elizabeth George

We are in denial about not having enough. Look at the run on toilet tissue and the recent gasoline shortage in the eastern United States. Greed and scarcity thinking are alive and well in the U.S.

“You’re taught to “be grateful” for everything. But have you ever been taught to “be grateful” for yourself? Be grateful for yourself. Make that a promise.” – C. JoyBell C.

We have denial racism is not an issue in this country.

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” – Ijoema Oluo

We are in denial guns are contributing to a health crisis in America. Americans own half of the world’s guns, yet the United States has only 4% of the world’s population contributing to 109 Americans dying by a firearm per day.

“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts.” – Alan Lokos

Consider viewing your 2021 graduation as an opportunity to recognize what you’ve chosen in the past and determine if it is good to take into the future. Use the next part of your educational journey to recognize what you need to unlearn and rethink. This will require more slow thinking and more curiosity and less judgment. Consider these questions going forward:
What is my “on purpose”? How am I living it?
What are my core bedrock values, and how am I holding myself accountable to them?
How do I wish to be experienced by others especially by others who don’t look like me or have the same beliefs and opinions?
What is most important right now, and what will it take to act upon doing this?
What will I do to get into my growth zone?
In the event of failure, how will I fail forward? Who can I count on for support?
What will be my fight song that I will sing when things get tough?
How can I nurture hope?
What can give me balance and stability? Where can I get support?