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I bet that some of you seniors are more than ready and some of you are dreadfully terrified to kiss these college years ‘goodbye.’ Undoubtedly the reason for such paradoxical feelings is that you all know that with this anticipated farewell also comes the true test of character: kissing real life “hello.”

Whether you greet this real life with open arms or clenched fists, gritted teeth and crossed arms — you can’t escape it. Those who try to avoid it usually end up unsatisfied. And even if you welcome this real life as a way to achieve your dream, you may still end up dissatisfied if your dream is to acquire an infinite pile of material wealth.

Living a life of contentment is the only antidote to the temptations of wealth and vertical achievement presented to you as passionate young graduates. But before living real life with contentment, you have to know yourself and be okay with who you are.

Who are you anyway? I mean what are you — yourself — passionate about? Do you know where you are going, and are you ready to develop a plan on how to get there and a way to monitor your progress?

After you have that figured out, you also have to recognize that every other person is somebody unique and different and be okay with it. In fact, maturity is understanding that everyone won’t be like you when they grow up.

While the goal of living the life of the “rich and famous” is highly desirable to most of us, what typically happens in real life is that we overspend and end up living the life of the “poor and infamous,” warns Steve Scalici, a certified financial planner.

While money is an inevitable variable in the equation of real life, it tends to trouble the majority of us rather than helping us. We aren’t the only generation with such problems.

In 1880, J.C. Ryle, the Bishop of Liverpool, aptly said, “Money, in truth is one of the most unsatisfying of possessions. It takes away some cares, no doubt; but it brings with it quite as many cares as it takes away. There is trouble in the getting of it. There is anxiety in the keeping of it. There are temptations in the use of it. There is guilt in the abuse of it. There is sorrow in the losing of it. There is perplexity in the disposing of it. Two-thirds of all the strife, quarrels and lawsuits in the world, arise from one simple cause — money.”

Besides money, failures are also inevitable in the journey of real life as we pursue our dreams. If we stop and cower at every closed door or small hurdle, we may never discover that these failures were actually the backdoor to success.

Sorry to break it to you, but once you attain your success and accomplish your dream, contentment will not immediately crown your life like the sweet maraschino cherry on top of a chocolate sundae.

It is practicing contentment in the monotony of real life duties that will help you to know when enough is enough and when your dream is at last achieved.

In two weeks when you finally hold your diploma in your hands, be ready to kiss real life “hello.” As long as contentment is your outlook, your real life equation will be balanced and much more enjoyable.

Here’s to you, Class of 2010. Let the good times roll.

Reach Catherine at

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