Graduation means new adventures, new paths, and many new decisions to make. Whether you’re heading off to college or the workforce, there are plenty of things people will tell you, trying to give you “advice” as you head into the next “stage” of your life. It doesn’t really matter how old you are, or where you’re headed. Everyone is going to tell you what to do (and what NOT to do), because they love you or want to see you succeed, or maybe even so they can live vicariously through you. I guess all those ‘things’ will come from a place of good intentions. (Or whoever paid your college tuition just wants their money’s worth!) Whatever the case, here are some things you probably won’t hear from all those ‘adults’ who mean well to you.
1. It’s only going to be as hard as you think. It’s up to YOU to find what works, not what someone else has done. Choose your path through your heart.
2. If you drink, don’t drive. If you drive, don’t drink. Common sense is not as common as one might think.
3. Always carry snacks. You never know when she might need food to get her through the next few hours. Food is more essential than alcohol (it’s true!), but don’t underestimate the medicinal properties of a glass of wine. It is part of your fruit/vegetable group. Also, don’t drink excessively, as this can cause serious memory loss (which can be the difference between passing or failing the exam!)
4. Sleep should not be underestimated. Sleep deprivation has been shown to reduce brain power greatly, turning even the brightest student into a jerk. Proven fact! (The saying ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ is NOT to be taken seriously!)
5. Personal hygiene is of paramount importance. You can wear the same pair of jeans for days, as long as you also wear clean underwear. If you don’t think so, try living with someone who never takes a bath. This will cause various illnesses including but not limited to sleep deprivation, nausea, chronic discomfort of the olfactory senses, and weight loss (it’s hard to eat when someone smelly is in the room!)
6. Avoid green shower stalls. If it looks like there’s carpet in the bathroom (and you KNOW it’s tile), don’t put your bare feet on that floor. Fungi are nasty little organisms that are difficult to eradicate and have extremely unpleasant sensory experiences. If all else fails, wear flip flops!
7. Being a member of a gym is not essential to staying in shape. Your own body weight will do the trick. Good sit-ups, push-ups, and a brisk walk will keep you as fit as an hour a day at a gym. The added benefits of staying fit? You don’t need to sleep that much! (please refer to item #4)
8. An email is NOT the same as a hard copy. In other words, leave your mom a card once in a while. She’ll appreciate the time you took to write it out (in your own handwriting, please!) and leave it in a mailbox. This will result in more ‘treats’ for you! The next time she brings home 3 months’ worth of clothes, she’ll do it with a smile. Trust me, this works wonders!
9. Always respond quickly when aid packages arrive. More thank you notes result in more things to be thankful for. In short, gratitude begets gratitude. Be thankful for every little thing. (side effect: makes you feel good too!)
10. Hats are great for all kinds of disasters. Bad hair days, dirty hair days, rain, visible roots (too much color?), etc. They’re also pretty handy for keeping those nasty little critters away (think ticks…ICK!)
11. Cotton, cotton, cotton! Avoid synthetic clothing. Cotton is more comfortable, easy to wash (even in the bedroom sink), dries quickly, and wears well. The nearest discount store sells cotton t-shirts in 6-packs. Buy 2. This will give you plenty of time to find someone to do your laundry before you run out. (same with socks!)
12. Say hello to the ‘fool’. Just because someone LOOKS like a geek doesn’t mean they don’t have a heart. Be good. You never know who that geek will become (think Bill Gates!). Also, like gratitude, pleasant begets pleasant. Ignore the idiots who think they are better than you. As my dad used to say, “even the Pope has to wipe his butt.” (Not a pretty picture, but you get the idea!) We’re all people… and no one is better than anyone else. (it is that some think the opposite… leave them with their delusions and move on)
13. It only takes 21 days to form a habit. Pick the ones that will give you the most benefit and stick with them. It won’t be long before you’re the one passing the exams and still have time to have fun! You CAN do both. It’s about balance.
14. Home phone. Once a week, call your parents. Just tell them you love them. If you’ve never done this before, expect various reactions. Don’t be discouraged. This too shall pass. One day, after you’re an “adult”, you’ll be glad you did this. Once again, you’ll have to trust me here. Because they (your parents) won’t be with you forever…now is a good time to tell them you care.
15. When your cash flow isn’t flowing ~ GET CREATIVE. You’d be amazed at the things you can do to earn money. Example: Go to www.craigslist.org Look under ‘Free’. Get free stuff… and sell it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
16. Volunteer – You’ll be surprised how much this will change your life. Find something that inspires you (animal shelters, nursing homes, food banks, women’s shelters, etc.) and donate a little of your time. It feels good, and the benefits are multiplied by a hundred. Remember, you will reap what you sow.
17. Listen to your gut. Intuition is a gift that EVERYONE has received. use it Often. It will always lead you to your best Self. It’s also handy for recognizing the idiot behind that pretty face. Trust your instincts MORE than your eyes. Seeing is not necessarily believing.
18. There are no stupid questions. If you don’t know, ASK. The only “stupid question” is the one that is not answered. Also, how do you think the greatest minds of our time got their answers? Think of the Nobel Peace Prize.
19. Education is more than the things you learn in class. It is mental, moral and aesthetic development in equal parts. This means knowledge (from books/teachers/labs), experiences (parts, exits, etc.), and exploration. Don’t be afraid to try new things. You will be surprised what you will learn about yourself!
20. STRETCH! Both physically and otherwise… STRETCH. Go beyond your norm and let yourself wander. Stretch your body throughout the day (good for many things!). Stretch your mind to consider new possibilities. Stretch your consciousness to feel the totality of this wonderful Universe. There is much to learn. Much to experience. Much to live. GO FOR IT!
Here’s to your new adventures. I wish you great love, great joy and many wonderful experiences. Blessings to all the graduates (and their parents!)