It’s graduation season, and some of my favorite people whom I’ve known since they were little teeny humans are about to graduate from High School; RJ, Emma, Skylar and others. As they look forward to their lives I want to share a quick story about seizing opportunity.

When I was in college I chose to spend the first half of my Sophomore year in a program in Madrid Spain at the University. It was one of the life choices that I am most grateful for as it prepared me to come back and complete college. It prepared me to feel safe and competent and able to move from my small hometown in Massachusetts, to New York City where I successfully spent 20 years. My thought process became, if I can live on my own where they don’t speak my native language, how easy is it to get by anywhere at all. The experience gave me the ability to navigate another culture, understand another language, and appreciate that the world is small. I learned that choice always exists and I don’t have to accept what is the obvious path, I can always take another road.

Last week, I had the opportunity to go back to Madrid for the first time. A client brought me there for a project, and I got to revisit where I lived, and some of the places that helped me become who I am. I was reminded of one of the richest experiences of my life. I can’t believe I’m now looking back on more than 30 years that have passed. I’m so grateful for that time and all of the experiences that have been made available to me, all of the people I have met given my ability to communicate with them in Spanish, and my openness to see the world as limited only by my willingness to explore it.

So my message here for our new graduates and those of us for whom it has been a while, is to take the opportunities that come, stretch yourself outside your comfort zone in a smart and calculated way, and recognize that your life is yours and who you become is your choice. Remember, “It’s a Small World After All” (insert song here..sorry for that).

Congratulations to the Graduating class of 2018.