The man who never had to toil To gain and farm his patch of soil, Who never had to win his share Of sun and sky and light and air, Never became a manly man But lived and died as he began. Good timber does not grow with ease: The stronger wind, the stronger trees; The further sky, the greater length; The more the storm, the more the strength. By sun and cold, by rain and snow, In trees and men good timbers grow.      

 Douglas Malloch

In these times of Graduations when festivities and reflection go hand in hand, I would like to send an honest message to College students and the Faculty that should be striving to prepare them to survive the “real world”.    Growing up is not easy, thus it is meant to be a slow progressing evolution that comes in stages producing initial fear and then thrill and satisfaction.    

The common element before the inevitable physical changes from newborn, to childhood, adolescence and finally adulthood is fear.    At this time in your final education steps the pain associated with fear is the last barrier to overcome but maybe the hardest.    Reflect on FDR’s famous quote “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”.    Do not give way to emotions, think before you act and act accordingly to your own goals.    Imagine what you would wish to be like, and take the steps necessary to get there.    

Life is a marathon, and missteps will happen but keep looking ahead regardless.    “All roads lead to Rome” as a medieval statement is applied to your present life.    What is the best road for you?    In order to answer that question you are required to have an open mind and explore, read about, and listen to all different views without censorship or cowardice.    Stay away from the ones, including some that might claim being your mentors, which are blocking your way.    These are false advisors that because of their own weakness, strive to keep you emotionally immature to feel the power of controlling you.    

Set your priorities and fulfill them in spite of false opposition.    Respect and love everyone as it is the only way of receiving the same.    Look for true friendships based on equality, but always proactive and self-assertive, not passive or dependent.    Even in thoughts that you disagree with and might ultimately reject, you can find a bit of truth.    If you want to be heard, learn to listen but never be afraid to voice an opinion or listen to criticism.    

As you continue this path apply the important principle of accepting delayed satisfaction as better than instant, and your initial doubts will start to abate.    Becoming an adult after achieving personal independence produces a sense of power that in itself brings lasting contentment and an appropriate self esteem.    At the inevitable end you would have changed your fear to joy because as Paul Anka’s famous song says you can tell everyone “I overcame obstacles, conquered doubts, gained love and respect and above all I did it my way”.

Happy Graduation,

Fernando J., Milanes, MD

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