It’s that magical time again. School has ended for the year and for a glorious some of you, that means an end of an era. High school is over. By now you’ve probably already had a fair share of warm fuzzies like hope and future-isms flooding into your life, from graduation, aunties, and friends of your parents you never knew, knew you. You may be thinking “enough” already, I want to party. You will grasshopper, you will, but focus.
This time in your life you will be faced with many decisions that you may not necessarily know are good or bad until you make them. I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of life experience, some may say I’ve made some mistakes, but through it I’ve gained a much wider perspective. As head curator of my own event-filled life, and in honor of the 9 years (omg…) that I’ve been out in the world, here are 9 pieces of wisdom for life outside of high school.
1. Live to love
Before you roll your eyes too hard, hear me out. Whether you are the romantic type or not I urge you to consider love as the foundation for all that you do. Love is the currency of life, it is the ultimate motivator, the presence or lack there of will make people do extraordinary things. You will reach a point in your life where someone will do something for you that you don’t deserve, but you need. It is your responsibility to return the favor. This responsibility is given to every single one of us, young old, rich, poor, parents, childless, it does not matter.
You need to love what you do, you need to love people, you need to love yourself, and you need to let others love you. You need to understand that while love is all encompassing, everyone shows their love in different ways.
2. Master money
Do not abuse your student loans if you go that route. If you’ve been afforded the luxury of going to college, do not be fooled. Sallie Mae sounds like a sweet-heart…but she’s not. That is real money that you have to pay back with your real job that you may or may not get for some time after graduation. And what if you perhaps don’t graduate? (calm down, see #9).
Some people will confuse money for love, don’t make this mistake. Money is important, but it is not the most important thing. Sometimes you will have none, sometimes you will have some. You’ll probably realize while having comfortable finances does make parts of life smoother, it doesn’t have the power to really fix anything. There will be a day (if it hasn’t already happened) your parents will not bail you out financially, because the best thing they can do sometimes is to let you figure it out on your own. That is love. (Review #1)
3. ALWAYS talk to another person, ask questions
This is very practical piece of advice but can take awhile to get used to. Whether it’s college or just life in general, you will be in situations that you need to get resolved and it seems like no one has the answer you are looking for. You have to keep digging. This is one of the most important lessons you will learn in college that I’m gifting you with for free (you’re welcome.) Don’t accept the first answer you get, whether it’s a “no” to accepting a transfer class, getting into a class, getting financial aid, an issue with a teacher, etc.
You will be faced with these situations in life all the time. People will try to fine you for ridiculous things, and tell you that it’s too late when it’s not. You will be amazed at the things you can accomplish by just asking and speaking up. However, there may be a point where you need to just suck it up…keep on reading to #4.
4. Accept consequences
You will make mistakes. Messing up is actually an integral part of life. Some of those mistakes will be complete carelessness or ignorance on your part. Some situations you might feel like you had no better option at the time. You may have several legitimate, understandable reasons why you made bad decisions. The truth is sometimes life can be very hard. You will find people that will sympathize with you, and you need that. But realize that whatever actions you take there are consequences, and you will not always think they are fair.
You may have to retake that class, let that person go, or pay that fine. My advice to you is accept the consequences. Be humbled by them. Chances are you will look back one day and see all the opportunities you had at the time to make a better decision before that one big thing happened. Thank God that it didn’t turn out worse. And remember, it. can. always. be. worse.
5. Cherish your friends
You’ve probably heard a great deal already about the friendships you have as you leave high school. “They don’t last,” is probably most common. You’ll probably hear the same thing when you’re about to graduate college. Well honestly it just depends. You may find that in college you don’t have the same interests as your high school friends. You may be going to different schools. A lot of you will be experiencing a completely new found freedom. No parents to check in with, boys and girls can be guests as late as you’d like. Romance takes on a whole new “thing.”
I want to tell you sweet young lovers, calm down. I’m not trying to have “the talk” with you. I’m just trying to help you realize the free time you have with your beautiful friends will not always be so free. There is no predicting what life will have for you after school or as you get older, start a family, start a career, move and explore. And by the way, you are in control of whether or not friendships last. They take work and commitment and a healthy dose of #1.
6. Be Authentic
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken,” and insert every other generic “do you” phrase. Now, this is important although totally cliché, because what does that really mean to be yourself? Well to me it is the backbone of #1, finding out what you love, who you love, and how you love. Being authentic to yourself first and foremost is necessary to bring peace to your life. If you don’t know who you are or what you want you’re going to get lost out there. What this means is that you have to take the time to always reevaluate yourself. The things you have clung to for some time whether it was sports, music, or friendships to help define you won’t be valid forever. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself hard questions.
This means that you have to be honest; honest with yourself and with others. Be honest when it’s embarrassing, when it’s hard, when it’s not convenient, and even if it gets you in trouble (did you read #4?).
7. Realize your parents are real people
So you might have started to pick up on this a little bit before you left the parental nest. Certainly you might not think of your parents as perfect, but there is a good chance if you are honest with yourself, that when you’re in a bind mom and dad are the first ones you call. Now you may not always like what they have to say, but somewhere that inner toddler is thinking that they will help “un-mess” whatever mess you’re currently in.
You’ll start getting into more and more situations that uncover glimpses of this obscure truth. You’ll realize some of the struggles they have had to endure. You’ll start to gain some understanding about them that make them seem a little less dictator and quite frankly, human. Like you human. You realize that undeniable pull to gravitate to them with all your questions isn’t really because they have all the answers, but because they have all the love.
8. Do what scares you
If you are going after the things you love, it will probably be kind of scary because it will be important to you. You can already expect to have some failures; we covered that in #4. Try your hardest to not let the hurdles stop you. Those setbacks are often setups for greater things to come. It takes a lot of hard and not-so-great work to be amazing. And please I am begging you, do not limit yourself! At least let other people tell you no (but first revisit #3). Until you are completely halted by some outside force, keep pushing. When you can’t push anymore, change directions; which leads me to this last important point…
9. Don’t focus too much on “rules”, but do remember this
Whether you’re a conscious planner or not, you probably have some idea in your head of how you expect your life to go. Well, life has this funny way of not concerning itself too much with your plans. A lot of things wont happen the way you expect, scarier yet, they may go exactly as planned and you might find yourself ridiculously miserable about it. You will find more and more as the net around you drops that unpredictability is about the only thing in life you can count on. The only thing you can really control is yourself and how you decided to handle change. Just remember when it comes to the things that matter most to you (#1, #1, #1!), the journey may be longer, stranger, harder, and unexpectedly different than you plan but all that matters is making it to your destination and loving life along the way.
OK, now go have some fun 🙂