We're in the midst of "graduation season" here in the Ohio Valley. Colleges have finished up their years, and many of our high schools are soon to follow.
It's a time when graduates sit through various ceremonies, gatherings, dinners and other events to mark an important milestone in their lives.
During those events, they are bound to hear speeches providing them with bits of insight and advice for their future. Some will be based on quotes from famous leaders of our world's past, while others will be from personal experiences.
Much of the speeches I've heard in recent years encourage students to try new things, to learn new skills, to make new friends, and, most importantly, to keep trying even if they fail in those attempts.
It's good advice when you think about it. Even if we fail at something, then at least we tried it. It might give us the encouragement to try something new as well, whether it be small like a new food, or big like skydiving or deep sea diving.
Whether you are finishing up your high school career, or taking those steps from college into the work world, this is a good time to reflect on the last few years, what you've done, what you've learned and what you hope to do as you move forward.
You will have many choices ahead of you, each with new possibilities.
Some of you will take up a course of study in college only to find it's not what you really want to do in life. You can make that change. It will take you longer to finish your education and will cost you more, but you learned something from the experience.
Every experience we have can teach us something if we are willing to look and listen.
But, for whatever reason, there are those of us who are afraid to make those efforts. Therefore, we miss out on those important lessons which could help us later in life.
At some point in life, we all feel or develop a fear of something. Some fears are good; they're healthy. Those fears are developed more out of a sense of preservation and safety.
Others, however, may be more the result of a bad experience and end up holding us back.
Shyness, for example, can be a type of fear which prevents us from talking to people, even if we want to. We keep to ourselves and, as a result, don't get the opportunity to get to know someone who could end up becoming an important part of our lives.
When I was very young, my family went on a trip to the beach. I got knocked down by a wave and actually spent a few seconds under water. For years after, I wouldn't go into the ocean or even attempt to go into the deep end of a pool.
I'm sure there are some who are probably laughing about it, but for me the fear was something I couldn't get past for a long time.
If we know something isn't dangerous, then there is no reason we should be afraid to try.
If you've ever wanted to learn to cook, try out that recipe or take a class or two.
Go up and introduce yourself to that person instead of standing by yourself staring at them. You never know where it could lead.
Try something that will take you out of your regular comfort zone, even if it's as simple as going to the movies by yourself or trying out that new rollercoaster.
As the saying goes, "If you fall down, get up and try again."
Every moment of our life builds us into the people we eventually become, and there is no point to any of it if we are just going to sit back and watch as everything passes us by.
Just make sure that you stay safe while experiencing it.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)