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Opinion

Young: Words of advice to grads

In a “normal” year, high school and college graduation ceremonies and parties would fill many a calendar. Alas, there is nothing “normal” about this year.

Instead of focusing on how the world has turned upside down due to the reaction to COVID-19, I am drawing from past years when as a salute to these newly minted grads, I offered up a bit of advice. It is free advice so keep your expectations at a moderate level, please.

Tell the truth. A white lie is still a lie. Educate yourself before you make claims that are unsubstantiated.

Vote — in every election. A county commissioner can have as much impact on your daily life as the president of the United States of America.

Use your words wisely. It was good advice my parents offered all those years ago when they told us we should think before we speak. SMS language, text speak or texting language is slang. It is not the English language. You are not a tabloid journalist. Practice using proper terminology.

Be a team player. I learn more from working with people whose views differ from mine than from working only with like-minded individuals. Imagine what a boring and unproductive world it would be if we all agreed on everything all the time.

Be kind. It does not cost you a dime, and it is the right thing to do. The bonus is that being kind to others is a stress reducer for you.

Don’t be judgmental. We were not created with a cookie cutter. Embracing our differences is a heck of a lot more fun and rewarding than knocking someone because they look or act or think differently than you do. Everyone makes mistakes.

Do not sacrifice your moral principles — for anyone or any reason. Sadly, in my lifetime I have seen integrity decay. Many Americans are spoiled rotten. What a few years ago would have been labeled a behavioral problem is accepted behavior today. Narcissism, lack of sympathy, and questionable morals seems to be considered normal.

Be an agent of change — for the better. Many people want instant gratification. They do not want to have to work hard to earn anything. There is an undercurrent of distrust and disrespect among the citizenry that I do not remember feeling when I was younger. People are not only suspicious of lawmakers and others in positions of authority; they are suspicious of one another.

In my career, I have had many wonderful opportunities. I have traveled to 16 different countries to cover agriculture stories for Midwestern farmers.

I have visited more farms and agricultural companies in the past 35 years than I can count. There was a time when I was so busy trying to get an interview, so I had a story to file, that I missed out on the experience.

Do not get so caught up in what lies ahead that you miss out on the journey. Enjoy the ride.

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.

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