“Letter to a disappointed graduate”

Graduating from college is a wonderful accomplishment and a high point in a young person’s life. It’s a rite of passage. It also is a major life transition point for a young person. They are no longer a child nor even a youth but now considered fully an adult. With that, comes adult expectations. Often the graduate is at a loss with how to maintain equilibrium during this hectic and heady time. Sometimes they drift aimlessly for a while before getting their footing. Others drift emotionally.

Christian graduates may be harboring secret feelings of shame for their behavior during the college years. Perhaps they feel ashamed of their pornography viewing habits, their laziness in studying, squandering mom and dad’s money, mishandled relationships, or other things. With passage to adulthood comes adult feelings and awarenesses.

Here is a wonderfully written letter from Samuel D. James called Letter to a Disappointed Graduate addressing those feelings.

I suspect his opening paragraph has meaning for more grads than we know.

Dear new college graduate,

I’m supposed to start off by saying “Congratulations,” but I doubt you want to hear that right now. If I’ve understood you correctly, today doesn’t feel like a victory to you. You say you’ve wasted most of the last few years. You’ve say you’ve been selfish, lazy, and unkind. You say for too long you were hung up on pornography and video games, and that your graduation today is mostly due to the kindness and forbearance of professors and the intervention of family and friends. Today, you say, feels good, but as you watch your classmates celebrate their high GPAs, their entrance in grad programs, and their lives that look way more fruitful than yours, all you can think about is how behind you are.

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This week we received an email from our Superintendent of Schools, forwarded from the Deputy Superintendent of Policy and External Affairs; Georgia Department of Education. It involves the suicide program on Netflix called 13 Reasons Why. Though the missive was aimed at educators who work with younger children, I think the information can be applied to Graduates who may not be transitioning as well as we think into adulthood. Paired with Mr James’ letter, I offer this information as a plea to be aware of our young people. The GA Deputy Superintendent’s letter follows:

As you may be aware, Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why will debut on Netflix tomorrow, May 18, 2018. The fictional series, based on Jay Asher’s book of the same title, explores the suicide of a teen, with the Season 1 finale showing the suicide in graphic detail over a 3-minute scene. As with other Netflix series, all episodes are released at once with viewers frequently watching a season from beginning to end in the same day.

After the Season 1 release of 13 Reasons Why last year, the web-search phrase “how to commit suicide” rose 26% above what would normally have been expected for that time according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Internal Medicine). The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) sent a notice to their members across the country on how to talk about the show and posted Considerations for Educators online. More recently, NASP shared Information Regarding the Upcoming Release of 13 Reasons Why, Season 2.

You may be interested in some of the information contained in the following articles that were tweeted this morning by Safe Schools Georgia (@GaDOESafeSchool) as well as Peer-to-Peer Suicide Prevention PSAs that were developed by Voices for Georgia’s Children, GBI Child Fatality Review Panel, and members of the Georgia Department of Education’s Suicide Prevention Task Force:

As 13 Reasons Why Returns, Schools Try to Help Students Who Are Thinking Of Suicide

School Officials Issuing Warnings Ahead of 2nd Season of ’13 Reasons Why’

Also, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities offers the Georgia Crisis and Access Line which is available 24/7 for any type of mental health emergency: 1-800-715-4225.

Public Service Announcements: “Georgia’s Children in Crisis”
30 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621210

45 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621204​ ​​

60 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621192

90 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621179

Long Peer-to-Peer PSA (17 minutes, 27 seconds): https://vimeo.com/254621215

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As we see with the increase in violence and school shootings, we know that our youth are vulnerable and living with pressures we as older adults never did, nor can really conceive. Let’s protect our children and emerging adults. Pray for them, have open eyes to danger signs for emotional instability, and above all, be a Holy Spirit filled non-hypocritical example for them. We are their islands of peace and safety in this troubled world.