Looking through Facebook the other day, I noticed there was a substantial amount of posts by my ophthalmology friends who are in teaching positions across the country. These were posts recognizing the graduating classes of residents and fellows that they had just finished training. The pure joy in the faces of the students and teachers alike was pleasant to see and made me think back to what an amazing time that was—the hopes and dreams of a new career starting; pride in the accomplishments, hard work, and determination needed to get to this point; deep gratitude for the support of family and friends; and the anxiety that comes with wondering what the future holds mixed in as well.
That was 24 years ago for me, but, in a lot of ways, it seems like yesterday. I remember I couldn’t wait to get at it. But now, with the experience of a few years behind me, I would encourage those just starting out to be sure to take some time to reflect on all that you’ve accomplished and savor the moment. Undoubtedly, there are amazing things ahead of you in your careers, but they can wait a little while you celebrate something truly worth commemorating.
In 2014, Naval Admiral William H. McRaven delivered the commencement address at his alma mater, University of Texas. In this speech, Admiral McRaven imparted on the graduating class 10 lessons he learned at basic seal training whose teachings can serve us all. I encourage the newly graduated residents and fellows to watch Admiral McRaven’s address and to consider his message as you move forward in ophthalmology and in life. After all, as Admiral McRaven said, “What starts here can indeed change the world. But the question is, what will the world look like when you change it?”