It is Valedictorian time again.  Young people, and their teachers and mentors, all over the world are searching for words of inspiration.

Last year I attended the local high school ceremony and everyone said some version of “Find a place where people are in need and spend your life being useful.”  This is really good advice.  Actually, I would say it is half of a good piece of advice.

I think everyone also needs to use their life to awaken the seed of something wonderful that is inside them and nourish it.  Every person has a star inside them that needs to shine.  Queue  the Marianne Williamson poem here.  This is the pitch to go on a Virgin’s journey (although I don’t want to be the one saying that to high school kids).  The journey to know in your heart that you are of intrinsic worth and to bring your unique self to life.

Here are my top 3 ways to follow your star, and bring that unique part of you to life.

1. Awaken to your heart’s yearning

Before you can follow your dream you have to have some idea of what it is.  To do this you need to be connected to your self .  The most basic way to do this is to practice self-care.  Explore what music you like, find your favorite foods, create a look that expresses your sense of color, texture, style in clothing or a collage.  All of these activities bring you in touch with your unique way of viewing the world and make you conscious that you exist.  Journaling is another great avenue as it creates a dialogue with your thoughts.

You have to start with a connection to who you are.  For goodness sake do not jump to “How will this get me a job?”  The Virgin’s journey is about putting passion in your life.  I’m not going to tell you this journey will get you a job (although it might) but I will say, happiness is found here.

2. Find a Secret World

This is a temporary Secret World where you can grow while you are still vulnerable.  A nest or a cocoon.  Virgins need a place where they can shut down their fear centers for a while and explore what they love.  Neuroscience has shown us creativity requires a person to be in a state where s/he is not censoring his/herself.  Virgins need to be in a place, a structure, in which they can be playful.  Find this place where you can make the effort to grow into your best self. Often it is with true friends and always in an environment that makes you feel alive. 

Holding a secret for yourself, away from the critical or fear-driven world, is an act of rebellion – a shift from being externally driven to being internally driven. Everyone needs to be able to do this in order to eventually weather the hardships of life.

It is a recognition that you are entitled to take up some space in life.  You don’t need permission or approval to hold a dream for yourself.   In your Secret World you can have a healthy sense of entitlement.  Not all the way to narcissism but you get to play a leading role in the story of your life.

3. Embrace Unintended Consequences

Not everything you try is going to be successful.  I have called them unintended consequences, some might call them mistakes.  Heroes have clear goals and see mistakes as potentially life threatening.  Virgins recognize mis-steps (unintended consequences) as objects of curiosity.

When you enter this place of the unexpected, a space opens up.  There is an opportunity to be creative; filter this new reality through your unique perspective.  You may be inspired to recombine things or add a tail .  You may have a good laugh and start again.  Mis-steps are to be viewed with curiosity.  The Virgin’s world is like a painting.  The negative space is interesting and helps define the positive space.  The key is to take baby steps and make small mis-steps. Then you can embrace those unexpected outcomes with curiosity and joy.    “Oh the places you’ll go…”

Everyone needs to connect with their creative ability.  The ability to create a story, or a life.  Don’t just be heroes in the service of others.  Find your passion and follow it.  And write stories about it.

Anyone know a great story written about graduating from High School?  Glee had a good couple of episodes.