Graduation time: What’s next?

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I was invited to speak to high school and college graduates. They sat there full of pride, happiness, hope ... and questions!

I told them that I did not come to provide them with answers. No one could do that but themselves.

What’s next? Many will volunteer to help them. Our young people will get a lot of recommendations from family, friends and teachers, and end up with many great ideas that make a lot of sense. The problem is they are now more confused than before!

Which road to take? What makes the most sense? Should they choose a profession that has more monetary return, a better future and higher demand in the job market? Should they take the high but hard road, or the fast and enjoyable ride? Pick the prestigious profession or follow their hearts?

I told them: There are lots of considerations, but the most important is to find out what you are passionate about. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Each one is destined to do what they were created for.” We cannot all be doctors or engineers, pilots or police officers, merchants or scientists. Therefore, we should follow our calling, do what we feel is right, and enjoy what we are doing. If you do what you love and enjoy what you do, you can be more creative and distinguished.

“But how do I know what my passion or calling is?” a high school graduate wondered.

“Every great achievement in life starts with a passion, a goal, a star,” I answered. “Imagine a person driving his car around with no purpose. You ask him where he is going but he doesn’t have a clue. He is just driving until he unexpectedly meets somebody, finds something to do or runs out of gas. That is exactly what would happen to any of us if we just went about our lives with no destination or roadmap.”

I explained to them that clear vision and mission starts with a good dream - to be somebody or do something. When obsessed enough with such a dream, you will gather all your resources, organize all your forces, and build the talents and skills your journey requires.

Following your stars, you will be met with surprises and obstacles. But with your faith, patience and insistence on getting there, the universe will conspire to help you achieve your goal and answer your calling.

Then, you will probably get there, reach your destiny and celebrate victory. However, that will not be the end of your road. Young as you are, you must consider the next dream.

Remember, always remember: You are the caliph of Allah on His earth, to cooperate with others in building it and making the world a better place for all its inhabitants.

You start once more on the road to glory, building a castle one stone at a time. You lead the way, light the torch and present an example for others to follow. You create, make and solve. Create what no other has thought possible, make what others felt impossible, and solve the unsolvable. That is how legacies are made and how one becomes great.

Again and again, you will be faced with the enemies of change and success. The roads in life are not always paved. Oftentimes, you need to draw your own maps, make your own way and design your own course. But, that is what your training was for.

Moreover, it would not be fun if it were so simple. Glorious victories are never won over easy targets and weak enemies.

Also remember, it is not your success, alone. You reached this day because a family, a school, and a country have prepared you. They share your dream, support your mission and celebrate your victory. They should be high on your list of payback.

When you advance on the road ahead, include those you needed most, because they now need you the most. What would it feel like if you invested your energy and savings in a project, waited for ages, then, when it was time for rewards, the profits went to someone else? That is how your nation and family would feel if after all the investments they made, you decided to choose somewhere else for your talent and hard work.

My audience seemed to be impressed, but still I could see “confusion” written across many faces. I wasn’t worried. They still have enough time to figure it out.

Our children need our support, our guidance and our prayers. But, as importantly, they need our trust to find their own way. It is tempting to direct them to what we believe is the best path to a better future. Let’s not forget that our dreams might not be theirs, our talents may not be the same, and our calling may not necessarily be theirs.

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at kbatarfi@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kbatarfi


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