Graduation ceremonies reflect how life marches on. For the students receiving their diplomas and degrees, graduation is a culmination of the majority of their lives' work.

For adults attending a ceremony, graduations mark the years, of how quickly time passes: How can so-and-so already be graduating high school or college? She was just riding bicycles and playing with dolls. How can 10, 20, 30, 40 years already have passed since my graduation? Where has the time gone?

Graduates, for you, your graduation has taken a lifetime. For the old adults in the audience, the time it took for you to graduate seemed to fly by. So, forgive us when we seem corny or overly sentimental at graduations. We are happy for you and a little sad for ourselves at how quickly time passes. But you too will understand this sooner than you think.

Forty years have passed since my high school graduation. Twenty-two years longer than most 18-year-old high school graduates have been alive. That sounds like a long time. A lot has happened since I graduated high school and college and, depending on the day, it seems like a long time to me, too. But, more often than not, it doesn’t seem very long at all. Give it a couple decades, graduates, and you will know what I mean.

Just remember: Learning doesn't stop with the mortar boards, diplomas and degrees. So, here are a few thoughts for the graduating class of 2022.

Again, time passes quickly. Though it doesn't sound possible now, before you know it, you will be returning for your 20th class reunion. Choose how you spend the next 20 years wisely.

Be ready for a multitude of adventures, experiences and mistakes. Adventures shape experiences and some experiences will be mistakes. Learn from them all. Seek adventure, remember the experiences and forgive yourself the mistakes.

There are no schedules. It is never too late to start something new or to begin again. That said, if a person wants to pursue a master's degree or a doctorate after earning a bachelor's degree, one should pursue it immediately, if it is affordable. Many people graduate college with plans of returning for a higher degree. Yet, once in the working world, the degree of difficulty rises for returning for a master's degree, a doctorate, etc., as one becomes more involved in the challenges of a career, paying for a car, paying rent or a mortgage, getting married, having children, etc.

Always be a student in life. Pursue interests no matter your age. Lessons don't end because school is finished and neither should the pursuit of learning.

As the next few years pass, you may be surprised at how much your parents' advice actually makes sense.

In work, find something you love and do it well. You may not become monetarily wealthy, but you may make a living at it and be happier for it.

Do not be afraid to dream big and pursue those dreams. However, find some simple pleasures in life too. Simple pleasures can be anything from a hot bath to clean socks to a good night's sleep to a chocolate bar covered in peanut butter. Sometimes, big dreams have a tendency to disappoint. Simple pleasures are more reliable.

Make plans even though plans often fall apart. Still, the better you plan, the more you will be prepared when things do fall apart.

Set goals but enjoy the trip in attaining those goals.

Don't be a label. Think for yourself.

If you find yourself moving from town to town, thinking there is nothing to do in any of the towns, take a look at your life and yourself instead of criticizing the town.

Roam the earth or stay home. Either way, with an open mind and open eyes, the world will come to you.

Know yourself but be ready for change.

And everything changes: From your looks to your situation to your relationships to your job, everything.

Make choices you will not regret. And when you do make some regretful choices still don't regret them. Once something has passed, it has happened. Regretting something won't change it. Think of regret as recognition to help you avoid repeating a situation or action in the future.

Dean Poling is an editor with The Valdosta Daily Times and editor of The Tifton Gazette.

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