In one week, it will be 10 years since I graduated from high school. (Gross, I'm OLD) and I want to acknowledge that with a couple posts on these past ten years. I got the idea from Tiffany.
Here is what I would tell kids graduating:
1. College is not the BEST time of your life.
For most, it is way better than high school....this is true. But, I think a lot of us go into it thinking its going to be interesting classes, parties, sorority functions, dates, meeting mr/mrs right, exciting road trips. And, it may be all of those things, but it also includes learning to budget -- which may mean a few months where you get down to the last week and have apples and ramon noodles to eat. It includes friend drama and cliques (did we really think that one year removed from high school, cliques would end? now we just have organized cliques called sororities! note: I was in a sorority so I can say this!) It's a time of life where a lot of people fall in love for the first time and a lot of people have their heart broken for the first time too. It's rejection from clubs, honors, internships.
Don't get me wrong, College is wonderful, BUT it wasn't the best time of my life.
2. However, the best days are ahead of you.
Sure, college may not be those days, but you have your twenties, your newlywed days, your mommy or daddy days, career days, retirement days. Good exciting days are ahead. I, for one, have LOVED these past 3 years since law school graduation. Mid twenties have been good to me. So, while college may not be the best days of your life --- its also unlikely that high school was your climax.
3. Find a niche.
As I said, there are still cliques in college. There is still snottiness and exclusion. BUT there are TONS more people. And so many different groups to get involved in. What I loved about college was the variety of my friends...different types of people. It is more accepted to be yourself in college. You have more freedom not to fit into a mold. So, if you like somethng offbeat like tapdancing or stamp collecting, find a group! (This may not be the same at small colleges, I don't know. I base this off my experiance at a big university)
4. Make new friends, but keep the old (or rather a few of the old)
Unless you grew up in a small town and had a class of 30 that went to grade school, jr high and high school together, you will likely not stay close to that many people in your graduating class. A lot of those people were friends of conveniance. Y'all grew up together, studied together, played soccer together. However, you probably actually really clicked with a few people. Fight to keep those few valuable friendships and don't fret too much if some of the other friendships become less important. Some friendships are lifelong and some are for a certain time (companionship, entertainment, etc) Both types are necessary. Also, if you spend every weekend going home or travelling to see friends at their schools, you will miss out on the great people you are meeting. SAME thing applies to graduation from college -- I have 3 good friends from college I talk to a lot and a handful of friends that I keep up with some, but some friendships were just meant for that time in life.
5. Workout. Eat Healthy
No one wants to come home Christmas FAT. but someone will. don't let it be you. The time to begin healthy living is in college and your twenties.
6. Be prepared for struggle. and heartbreak. and pain.
You may have been prom queen, debate team captain, head cheerleader and the star point guard. SO WHAT, everyone else in college was likely successful in high school too. You will sometimes not win the award, make the cut or receive the internship. BUT, you are smart, so sometimes you will. Be prepared for a little dissapointment along the way. This is especially true when you leave college. People rarely get the job they want right off the bat.
Also, you will be excluded. You will have breakups and broken hearts and hard classes and tough bosses. You may be broke. And, in college and your twenties, you will learn to deal with this on your own.
College and your twenties are about way more than school and work, BUT those things are important. It takes time to learn balance. Even now, the occasional late monday night at karaoke is worth being tired at work, but not every monday. Its wise to get your work done before the fun stuff, but if in college, you want to travel for an away game, thats fine, just be prepared to pull an all nighter sunday night to study for your test.
8. Be all in. Don't be looking so far ahead that you miss this stage of life.
Wear your school colors. Go to the big game. Get involved. Get everything you can out of this phase of life. Don't be so concerned about the future that you miss out on the things that are exclusively a part of college life.
Same goes for post grad, be broke and rock it. Proudly wear your old navy clearance dress. Learn to do wine nights in. Eat cheaply so you and your girls can splurge on a fancy meal out. Get excited about dates. enjoy your free time. Take advantage of your single days. OR your young married days. OR even your young kids phase. But enjoy the good in each phase. Look to the future but don't waste the advantages of the time you are in.
9. Your parents aren't always right. BUT they are right a majority of the time.
Your parents can be wrong sometimes. Some kids already know this. I don't think I did. I got mad at my parents alot during high school, but at the end of the day, I desperately wanted to please them...and I still do. But, I am slowly learning that they are human and sometimes they screw up and say the wrong things. They may want good things for me that aren't the best things for me.
However, you little rebels who always thought your parents were wrong, you will come to learn that a good bit of the time, they are actually right. They may be human and make mistakes, BUT they do have a lot of wisdom.
10. Figuring out your life may take time.
I am dating a boy who will graduate from architecture school at 28. He already has an engineering degree and went back to school. It took him a little more time and school to figure things out. I graduated and went straight to law school. I took the shorter route but at the end of the day, we are both going to have degrees in our profession.
11. Be prepared to make mistakes.
This is huge. I am not excusing mistakes, BUT I am preparing you that you will make them. Don't let them devestate you. You are young and doing life on your own for the first time ever so you may take advantage of the freedom or make a poor choice. God's grace reaches you in college, your twenties, thirties, fourties, etc. You can't fall out of His reach, so every time, run back to Him.
12. Make your relationship with Christ your own.
At my age, no one makes me go to church. No one makes me read scripture or pray. But, I do...not perfectly, not always consistantly, but I do. These decisions begin in college. Find a church you like. Find a campus ministry you like. Read a book of the Bible you like. You have some freedom in this. Likewise, when you graduate, find a church you like...and a community of believers to hold you accountable.