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November 22nd, 2017

From the Belle Tower

Class of 2016, I Feel Ya (Sorry)

Celia Rivenbark

By Celia Rivenbark (TNS)

Published June 20, 2016

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It's time for my annual "Nobody Asked Me, But Here's What I'd Say In a Commencement Speech" speech.

I hear you, class of 2016. Why should you take advice from someone who still responds "Way!" when someone else says "No way!" I can't help myself. It's the Polo to your Marco and, yes, I know it's not cool anymore. OK, perhaps it never was. I am high key embarrassed.

You should listen to me because I have "Life Experience." You know "Ima" be serious (sorry) when I put that stuff in upper case. Now who's "tryna" listen to me? (again, sorry)

Class of 2016, I'm on your side. TBH ("to be honest," for those my age), I get really tired of all the old farts my age who carp about millennials being entitled brats whose biggest worry is that they will run out of shows to binge-watch on Netflix.

It doesn't help when one of your own kind gets a gazillion hits for a YouTube video about how millennials are so whiny and indulged and how they should respect their elders. Blah, blah, blah. She sounded like the preacher in "Footloose." (Ask your parents.)

I don't have such a dim view of y'all. In fact, I think y'all are way more plugged in to what's real and important than my generation. Listen, I used to spend too much time bristling when a millennial would say "No problem" if I asked for silverware, ketchup, etc. (To clarify, I was in a restaurant when I asked for that, by the way. It's not like I would ask for that, say, at the tire store.) I used to get salty (your word) as you-know-what when a waiter responded "No problem."

"Well, one would hope it's not a problem since IT'S YOUR JOB!"

Ugh. I can't believe I was that person. One day, I woke up and realized it's just how y'all talk. No hidden agenda. Much as we said "Groovy!" I immediately decided it's not a hill to die on. Or even to climb halfheartedly before realizing you're not much of a climber and can't we just go for ice cream.

My point is that we can all change course if we realize we've made a wrong turn. There's almost always a chance to reinvent and do-over. Grab hold of that chance like it's the last tickets to Beyonce.

I just read that the single biggest predictor of lifelong success and happiness is empathy. Not your GPA. Not your number of Instagram followers. Not even your mad GTA V skills. Nope. Empathy. Because when you have empathy for others, you're better able to solve problems, appreciate life and work for the common good. Which makes you and others happy. Yay you. If you don't have much empathy, go get you some.

Finally, as always, don't throw your gum where it can be stepped on; call your "mama and them" weekly; treat others the way you want to be treated; apologize when you oughta. You got this. No problem.

Celia Rivenbark

(TNS)

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Celia Rivenbark is the author of seven humor collections.

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