Graduation is a significant transition.  Yet, there is something uniquely hopeful, and perhaps typically American, about the occasions captured by images on Facebook and Instagram over the last several weeks.  The bright, smiling faces of young people in prom gowns, tuxedos, caps, sashes, tassels and robes.

What I remember from that time of life and from shepherding my own children through their own “commencements” is that after the celebrations, the travels, and a bit of sleeping in and hanging about – what’s left is often more than excitement. It’s pure, raw, unadulterated fear.  Did I choose the right major?  Will I find work? Will I like the work? Will I be able to support myself?

Regrettably, for many of us, that fear hangs around for a lifetime, and the questions  we worry over remain remarkably similar. Unlike the predictable milestones of our youth, however, there are no rites of passage that force a change for most adults.  In fact, it sometimes can feel like our world is constructed to ensure we don’t change.

How many adults have you heard say, “Well, if I had it to do over again, I’d be a…”  The truth is we DO have it to do over again. We CAN make changes.  Yet, so few of us do. We tell ourselves all sorts of stories (with the nodding support of friends and family) that justify our decisions to stick with unsuitable careers or put up with a lousy work situation.  The culprit in most cases is simple: FEAR, whether ours, or somebody else’s.

Once you’ve admitted that to yourself, you can get busy doing something about it.