Opinion

Kyle Troutman: Eyes forward, graduates

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Hundreds of local students by this point in the year have turned their tassels to the left and their eyes to the future as they move past the 13 years of schooling and into the wide, wide world.

Graduations mark the end of an era and the beginning of another, when children become adults whether their parents are ready or not. Many local students will move on to colleges, largely in the southwest Missouri area, and some will find their way to the workforce or trade schools. No matter where they end up, they will always take a piece of that prep experience with them.

Having just celebrated my 33rd birthday and 15th year free of the high school shackles, I sat down this week to consider what I might have done differently or better 15 years ago, and I came up with a few pieces of advice that may (or may not) help seniors that have just walked.

First, itís great to have plans when you graduate, be it college with a decided major, an industry job or trade school ó but donít stay married to it if you donít enjoy it. I was personally one of the lucky ones who picked a major while still in school, went to college for it and have used my degree directly throughout my career.

This isnít always the case.

I know countless people who have entered college excited about their chosen major, only to realize they picked wrong and in a year or two had found a true passion for something else.

The years of 18-22 (sometimes 18-25) are molding years where as young adults, you will come into your own. Many times, that comes with a change in life philosophy or interests and a drive to find personal health, a home and a way to make impactful contributions to society.

Welcome change. Try new things. Get out of your comfort zone and enjoy your freedom. You never know when taking a step outside the box will change your world.

Donít let setbacks spiral you downward. Almost nothing ever goes as planned, and goals can change over time when new experiences and information is added.

A prime example of this ó I never expected to be where I am today, living in southwest Missouri and working for two newspapers. I always pictured myself in a larger newsroom like the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where I was a news clerk in college.

It was through experience in the industry, meeting the right people and making the right connections that I learned the exceptional value of community journalism and how I could make a larger impact in a smaller area.

I initially turned down my first writing job in Searcy, Ark., because I did not want to move to a smaller town. Then I again initially turned down the job of editor here, not wanting to move to an even smaller town in a new state.

Both of those times, in the days after saying no, I opened up my mind a bit and decided to take a leap. Now, I have a job that I enjoy and have met my wife and built a family, and I feel I am making the kind of positive contributions on my community and loved ones I was meant to make.

Those things can happen when you are open to meeting new people and making professional connections, especially in the field you want to enter. The right professor or mentor on a job site could make all the difference in the future when it comes to job recommendations or references. I still have one college professor in particular that I share ideas with on occasion. In fact, we are long overdue for a coffee next time I visit home.

As you grow and change, be true to yourself. The world is full of fakers and con artists pretending to be something they are not. Do not fall into those traps.

Keep yourself centered on what is important to you ó family, God, career, significant other, etc. ó and do your best to make a positive impact on those around you.

There is enough crap in the world without becoming another contributor.

Also, enjoy the little moments. Make great memories when you can and have fun.

Some of my best memories right out of high school were made in my dorms or at friendsí houses on the weekends. Those memories are also the times where I cemented many lifelong friendships that I value and lean on to this day.

A small piece of advice, do your best to avoid spending all your money. In todayís economic climate, it is difficult, but do your best to stash some cash away. Even if itís $20 a month, put some aside for when you really need it.

And lastly, listen to your parents, guardians and mentors, those who love you and have more life experience.

As much as you think you know everything ó I thought I did ó you will very likely in about a decade look back at this moment and the next few years and say to yourself, ďDang, mom and dad were right.Ē

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of The Monett Times since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-235-3135 or editor@monett-times.com.

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