As I sit here and put pen to paper, the iron grip of Old Man Winter is finally relenting. The arrival of spring is near, and with it comes the return of the birds, the flowers, the colors – a flourishing of life. Along with the spring, we seniors are also standing along the shore of change in the sea of life. Ahead, the summit of graduation that we have toiled towards for four long years. Beyond that, an endless horizon of opportunity. Of that great unknown – which direction will you head?

Life is a gift far more precious than the rarest diamond, the deepest oil deposit or the largest gold mine. Your life is just that – yours. What you do with it is your choice. It needs no managers, no approvals, no sign-offs by this person or that. Like clay on a potter’s wheel, you can shape your life any way you see fit. Unfortunately, it is far too common to follow a predisposed path in life, one safe and familiar and deemed appropriate by that great, all-powerful judge that is society. Consider what is commonly said about my chosen major, accountancy: “You’ll make great money! The job security is excellent! There’s great opportunity to grow professionally!” Now, there is nothing wrong with being an accountant. Today’s corporate world demands the talents of accountants. But as I learn more about the responsibilities and expectations demanded by the profession, I have found myself questioning my choice. Will accounting satisfy me? Will I be happy spending my life at an anonymous cubicle in an anonymous office in an anonymous city, doing monotonous, pencil-pushing work? After some firsthand experience and hearing firsthand accounts, I know well enough what the answer is.

This, however, does not mean I am forever bound by the seemingly rigid confines of my diploma. My degree does not determine my career path in its entirety; it merely acts as a catalyst to a further point along this eternal road we are traveling down. In the grand scheme of things, it is but a small chiseling on that marble masterpiece of life, an eternal sculpture which bears the mark of every decision we make, from cradle to casket. It is well within my power to decide whether my dabbling in accounting will be ephemeral or enduring. This isn’t just true for myself. It is true for every graduate who is nervously and apprehensively pondering their chosen field.

Don’t let the absurd notion of social acceptance or the empty words on a diploma succeed in boxing you in and ultimately whisking you down a road you don’t want to go. I know you want a life more fulfilling than that. You want and crave a lifestyle and career that fulfills you, and not the Joneses and Johnsons and all the others that are currently stuck on the interstate in their daily slog to the office. This means pursuing your goals rather than let them turn into a hazy reverie, one your mind occasionally meanders back to on the weekday lunch break. It means not giving a damn when society tries to discourage your dreams and push you back towards the “right” path. It means facing adversity and eschewing the coddling environment which anodyne and predisposed paths provide. It means, above all, being true to yourself – to no one but you!

The coming spring brings with it a renewed vigor for life and a rekindling of the passions that were stifled by the cold and grayscale winter. It is a time of change, a changing of the guard shepherded by Mother Nature herself. But the changing of the seasons is nothing compared to the change you can find within yourself. You harbor dreams and passions which are unparalleled. Do not be afraid by the daunting obstacles that threaten to impede the realization of those dreams. Life on this big blue ball goes by quicker than you’d think, so I say to you, O Captain of thyself – follow your heart, chase your dreams, and above all, live the life you want and deserve.