Hello Class of 2017.
I hope you are excited and happy to be a Graduate? I was when I graduated but in addition to being happy and excited, I kept asking myself: What next? What am I to do now? I had Questions and doubts and worries especially as a Nigerian. I kept asking myself am I going to join the bandwagon of unemployed graduate? If not, What am I to do?
Graduation meant that am now a real Adult and when I mean Adulthood, I mean it metaphorically; not just by age but Responsibility. Graduation meant that you've passed through the fore walls of the University. The Igbo word for University is Mahadum which literally translates to 'knowing it all' and I trust you must have acquired alot of skills but I don't expect you to know everything. I don't know everything either.
Maybe some of you are worried as I was, maybe some of you are worried about getting a job and not just any job but a desired job. You should be worried, being worried means that you care that it matter to you. As you graduate today (or before now) I urge you to think about what matter to you, think about what you want to matter to you.
This is that time when you will be told by family and friends to go and do Big thing, go and change the World. It's not a bad thing to do though but let the idea of 'big thing' be yours and nobody else. Something Big to you might be small to somebody else but that somebody else does not matter but as you define for your self what 'Big thing' is I urge you to learn to criticise yourself. Self preservation is a natural mechanism but self criticism might seem unnatural and difficult but you must try to always critcise yourself. You must be willing to be wrong, you must be willing to say I DON'T KNOW. To admit to lack of knowledge is to me a sign of immense strength rather than weakness. The ability for self criticism is a product of a beautiful kind of honesty. It's an acknowledgement that there is no such thing as perfection.
I also want you to define Success for yourself and I mean this within reasonable limit; don't praise yourself for getting an F in a course and say that's your own definition of Success. Learn always to say your truth because our time on Earth is short and each moment that we are not our truest self, each moment that we pretend to be what we are not, each moment when we say something that we do not mean because we imagine that is what somebody wants us to say then it's a waste of time.
While growing up in Nigeria, I was raised to frown at teenage pregnancy and pregnant teenagers who are not married until I started asking myself Questions, pregnancy takes the effort of both a male and female. What about the man that got them pregnant I would ask myself. So I unlearned that inhumane idea years ago. I want you to be Humane, be Human, be kind, always recognise the 'human presence' in other people. They are not just human beings but they are emotional beings with dreams so before you pass judgement, try and understand. Before you form an opinion, listen and listen again.
Eat good food and drink alot of water. Don't twist yourself into shapes to gain Likeability, the world is a glorious multifaceted diverse place and there are people that love you just the way you are. That natural version of you that doesn't hold back anything.
I wish you a life full of joy and fulfilment. Enjoy.