Advice for Graduates


Graduation day…It’s been 18 years in the making, and 10 days since Patrick had his last day of high school.  The never-ending graduation!  It’s been a fabulously fun week.  We’ve had numerous grad parties, he’s had the senior boat cruise (getting home at 4:15am… yes, 4:15am, from a school-sponsored event, Welcome to Barrington :)), now at the senior breakfast, has 12:00 rehearsal with almost 900 of his other fellow graduates, and the “out of towners” have arrived and we have a houseful.  And we are thrilled to have everyone here, even if some weren’t necessarily “invited” (zing), but Bruce and Beth, you never need an invitation.  ;).  If I wasn’t so emotional and prone to cry at everything including pictures of puppies, soldier reunions, Hallmark commercials, sad songs, happy songs, my many trips down memory lane these past few weeks, I’d really be looking forward to tonight. Actually, I am very much looking forward to tonight’s ceremony.  But those who know me, understand I will be crying all day long.  All. Damn. Day. Long.  When that Pomp and Circumstance song starts, it won’t be pretty and that’s when the waterfall of tear will begin.    But they will be tears of joy (and some sorrow as my baby has grown up), but definitely tears of joy.

619920d0fd54314b2cb17234ad6e8fd2 (1)

All that being said, I took Patrick out to lunch this week, just the two of us, so I could impart some of my wisdom on him and give him some “well-thought”  pieces of advice.  While I think it went well and we did have a great chat about his future, I’d almost like a do-over as I’m not sure I covered everything I wanted to… and note to file, next time may order a 2nd Stella!  So, was pondering some “additional” great advice to give Patrick, as well as Mary, Matt, Blake, Johnny, Jeff, Jason, Deven, Azi, Franco, Ryan, Mark and his other friends graduating.  What can we share with these graduates as they head out into the world?  There are some generic things you can tell these young adults:

1.  Be safe

2.  Study hard

3.  Make good choices

4.  Be yourself (everyone else is taken)

5.  Be happy

6.  If you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life

7.  You can’t change others, you can only change yourself.

fe651abb4d8e0abe92810ed7e4b190dc (1)

I realize that not every piece of advice works for every graduate.  And while the above nuggets, do work for everyone (or should work for everyone), there is so much I want to share with these graduates.  I wanted something more, “Inspiring”… and here is what I found.

20 Inspiring Quotes for Graduates


1. “In response to those who say to stop dreaming and face reality, I say keep dreaming and make reality.”  – Kristian Kan

 2. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” – Dr. Seuss

3. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

4. “Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path then by all means you should follow that.” – Ellen Degeneres

5. “Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.” – Oprah Winfrey

6. “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” – JK Rowling

7. “Now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.” – Neil Gaiman

8. “My favorite animal is the turtle. The reason is that in order for the turtle to move, it has to stick its neck out. There are going to be times in your life when you’re going to have to stick your neck out. There will be challenges and instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go out and meet them.” – Ruth Westheimer

9. “I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.” – Anonymous

10. “Share your sparkle wherever you are.”  – Dodinsky

11. “The fireworks begin today.  Each diploma is a lighted match.  Each one of you is a fuse.”  – Edward Koch

12. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

13. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”  – Dr. Seuss

14. What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

15. “To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you too may one day be president of the United States.” – George W. Bush

16. “All our dreams can come true…if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

17. “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.” – Ella Fitzgerald

18. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

19. “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.” – Michelle Obama

20. “I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. I know that sounds completely nuts. But, since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition. There are so few people this crazy that I feel like I know them all by first name. They all travel as if they are pack dogs and stick to each other like glue. The best people want to work the big challenges.” – Larry Page


I think this was a good start.    And yet I know there is so much more that can be shared, not only by me but by everyone who loves these students.   I then remembered one of my all-time Favorite tidbits of advice from an Econ teacher to his students.  Smart, sassy, light-hearted, from the heart (it’s as if I wrote this)…and knew this was perfect.  Plus, I believe I loved this so much I made a previous blog out of it.  #Trendsetter #Blogger #UnfollowedOnTwitter


Song of the Day:  Time of Our Lives, by Pitbull and Ny-Yo – not all lyrics were suitable for printing, but this is just about the snappiest song I’ve every heard…and it is all about the Times of our Lives!

This for anybody going through tough times
Believe me, been there, done that
But everyday above ground is a great day, remember that

Congratulations graduates!  One last little trip down memory lane for me and my little boy…

POB YB 3 001

My dad and Patrick.


My very happy boy!

kids in car

I do believe this was the kid’s first “selfie”.


My favorite family pic in Laguna Beach.

mer loves paddy

Sibling love. <3


When Meredith took this pic of Patrick last year, I thought for sure it was a premonition of where he’d be going to school.  Not so much.


I’d like the record to reflect I do Not like this picture of me…but Love the boy I’m with!


Looking good for a post-midnight boat cruise!


O’Brien family selfie.

going to miami

Best of luck to all the graduates.  Life is short.  Make the most of it.  🙂  Graduation pics to follow next week.  Best. Blog. Ever!


And so the adventure begins…








  1. Such sweet sentiments and inspiring advice. Love the baby picture with your dad. Enjoy the weekend, and it’s ok to be sad…just do it with grace and style, as you do everything.

  2. Cool blog. Love the pics. Good common-sense ‘advice’. Congrats to Patrick . . .and to ALL in the O’Brien family. After all, it really does take a village . . . xoxo

  3. This is wonderful! I was actually trying to think how to impart some of this to Deven so may I will just print this and give to him in his graduation card !

Leave a Reply