Beyond Commencement: Navigating the Next Phase of Your Journey

by Sharon Fleshman

I will be attending my 25th year college reunion this weekend. When I think back to May 1990, I recall feeling excited and yet overwhelmed as I walked across College Green toward Franklin Field. As a Penn alum, I can relate to being goal-oriented and having a given destination clearly in view. What I’ve learned over the years, however, is that the journey will reroute you to unanticipated places that offer their own life lessons.   Whether you are graduating or simply regrouping for your next semester or career move, these quotes from commencement speeches will offer food for thought.

“As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.”  Michael Dell

“It doesn’t matter that your dream came true if you spent your whole life sleeping.”  Jerry Zucker

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”  J.K. Rowling

“It’s harder to build than destroy. To build is to engage and change. In jazz, we call progressing harmonies changes. Changes are like obstacles on a speed course. They demand your attention and require you to be present. They are coming…they are here….. and then they are gone. It’s how life comes. Each moment is a procession from the future into the past and the sweet spot is always the present. Live in that sweet spot. Be present.”  Wynton Marsalis

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.”  Alan Alda

“You cannot authentically live anyone’s life but your own. That is the deal life offers us.”  Gabrielle Giffords

Author: Sharon

Sharon Fleshman is the Senior Associate Director of Career Services for students in Education, Nursing and Social Policy & Practice.

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