It’s okay to listen, I am not your dad

Published 8:16 am Thursday, May 25, 2017

Editorial by Chris Kovatch


Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, it is easy to see what time of year it is. Prom, college commitments, caps and gowns cover my screen. It causes me to stop and take a moment to think of when I was in that group. My high school graduation was 18 years ago. That means this year’s seniors were infants when I walked across the stage and accepted my diploma. The sad fact is that my son’s graduation is just 5 years away. Where has the time gone? Am I at a point now that lines up with my future expectations that I had at 18?

So today, I would like to share some thoughts with our graduating seniors. Perspective is a great tool to use, but the challenge is that we often fail to leverage its power. I remember tons of advice that my parents’ gave me, but I felt I knew better and forged my own path. Sometimes I came out ahead and sometimes I wasn’t so fortunate. I think all children at some point choose not to listen because it’s their parents giving the advice. So the good news is…I am not your dad. Take a moment and just consider my musings. Perhaps it can save you some speed bumps in your future.

It is very easy to say that I want to major in engineering in college, but the truth is most students don’t have a grasp on what that or any other area of study entails. I remember back to my time in college and I started out as an Accounting major. I have very strong math skills, but that didn’t mean that I would enjoy accounting. I ended up taking a number of sociology classes at LSC-O taught by Bobbi Miller. I can truly say that those classes forever changed my way of thinking. I learned how to listen to people with differing opinions. I learned how to question things. I was able to participate in deep discussions around a variety of theories. You know what? I loved it. Hindsight lets us pick apart our decisions and see other ways we could have handled situations. What did I learn? Find something you love doing and pursue that. Obviously you have to think about your future and supporting yourself, so it’s important to factor that in to the equation. I will tell you I would rather make a decent salary doing something I love, than making a ton of money doing something I hate. I go to my office every day and love what I get to do. The clients and co-workers that I get to interact with, the numbers I get to crunch, and helping people make their dreams a reality all make my job something I truly love doing.

Be wise when it comes to money. Realize what your needs truly are and what can be lumped into the luxury category. In the end, most of the things we desire are luxuries. I would love to go back in time and save more and spend differently.

Be involved. I worked 50+ hours per week and went to school full time. While that was totally my decision, I could have scaled my job back had I so desired. I believe it is important to be active on your campus. Trust me, you will be an adult soon enough. Bills are overrated. Take time to wrap up your childhood and grow into the person you will be upon graduation.

My final thought is to make sure you finish college before having children. I was married at 20 and the smartest decision we ever made was for my wife and I to complete our degrees prior to having kids. I can’t imagine trying to complete a degree now. Trust me, it will work out better for you and will give you time to focus on your kids fully later.

Best wishes to all of our graduates. The world has changed much over the last 18 years. It will continue to evolve as time presses onward. Be a part of that change. Be deliberate in your decisions. Be vocal and active in supporting your beliefs. (Talk is cheap. Getting your hands dirty speaks volumes.) Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A majority of people have been where you are now, the insight they have is invaluable. All you have to do is ask and listen.