It's commencement season and you know what that means. You have to sit through a bunch of long, boring speeches about what life is really all about. Don't worry. I'm not going to do that to you. You've been through enough to get where you are today. You're eager to move forward. I get it. So, I'm simply going to provide some rules for the road ahead, and then you can be on your way.
First, I want to take this opportunity to say that while I am not surprised, I am definitely honored to have been (self) selected to be your commencement speaker. I am an excellent choice, if I do say so myself. When it comes to divorce, I wasn't just handed an honorary degree; I have a Ph.D. and I earned it the hard way. That is to say, I have both the personal experience and the professional credentials to keep it real.
It's been more than six years now, but I remember quite clearly what it felt like to be in your position. The point in time when your divorce is final and an open road lies before you can be as terrifying as it is exhilarating. Here's what you need to know as you move on with your life:
Brandish your badges. You've been through a lot. If you still have wounds, work on healing them. Once they've healed, don't view any remaining traces as battle scars, see them for what they are: They are reminders of the lessons you've learned, and testimonies to your strength and resilience. In other words, they are badass merit badges. It took a lot for you to earn them. Make sure you wear them with pride.
Remember where you came from. There's a difference between dwelling on your past and learning from it. Before you hit the accelerator and surge ahead, turn around and look at the road behind you. Make mental notes of the wrong turns and dead ends you encountered in the past so you can avoid them in the future. You're going to be exploring new territory and the route will be unfamiliar. When it comes to getting to where you want to go, knowing what roads you shouldn't take can be just as important as knowing which ones you should.
Embrace life. Don't let the hell you've just been through dampen your joy de vivre. I know the storm was scary, but it has passed so there's no reason to keep hiding underneath the overpass. The clouds have parted and the sun is shining. These are perfect traveling conditions. Sure, there will be bumps in the road, but don't let that keep you from you moving forward. You didn't get all those merit badges for nothing. You've lived through a divorce, for God's sake. Surely you can handle a bump or two. So, fire up your engine and get going.
Beware of hitchhikers. Be eager to embrace life, but don't be overly eager to embrace love. You have worked hard to get here. You are no longer relegated to only riding shotgun. You are a good driver and your days of fighting over the steering wheel are behind you. You get to decide what direction you travel and how fast you go. It's possible that you will find someone along the way that will make a good traveling companion. But you're good either way. Make sure you don't pick up any creepy hitchhikers along the way.
Congratulations, class of 2014! You are educated and well prepared. Your future awaits you. Godspeed.