My Advice to Graduating High School Seniors
It's that time of year again when a new class of high schoolers leaves the nest and heads out to make their way in the world. Some have lofty dreams and expectations, some don't know what they want to do with their lives yet and others are just glad to be graduating. Whatever may be next for a particular graduating senior, I humbly offer my advice.
1. If you aren't going to college, that's ok... but be prepared to work hard starting right this very minute. No one is going to give you anything. In fact, they're going to expect you to earn everything you get... and sometimes even when you earn it... you still won't get it.
2. If you are going to college, congratulations. It can be a wonderful time in your life, but don't believe anyone who tells you it's the best time of your life. If that's true, it means life is all downhill afterwards. It's not.
3. As I said above, be prepared to work hard starting right this very minute. No one is going to give you anything. In fact, they're going to expect you to earn everything you get... and sometimes even when you earn it, you won't get it.
4. Your parents weren't fair. Your school wasn't fair. Sometimes your friends treated you in ways that weren't fair. Guess what? Life still isn't always fair after high school. The quicker you accept that, remove the chip from your shoulder and push forward, the happier you will be.
5. While life is tough, it's worth living, so live it. You get out what you put in. Pay attention to your professors. Study for your tests. Show up to your job on time and do what you are asked to do. Then feel good about being part of a dieing breed called 'people with a strong work ethic.'
6. Go to a couple parties, but not every one of them.
7. Guys... every girl who smiles at you doesn't actually want you. Girls... never, ever leave your drink unattended. I'm not trying to be an alarmist but this is the real world where people do bad things. If your drink leaves your sight at all, dump it and get a new one. Just keep it in your hand and you won't have to worry about it. Don't accept drinks from someone you don't know either unless you watch them pour it.
8. Have one weekend where you're so poor you have to eat out of a vending machine. It'll teach you not to blow as much money on beer again.
9. Find a favorite pizza place and frequent it. That place will mean a lot to you for the rest of your life.
10. Make as many friends with people from other cultures as you can. You'll learn as much from them as you will in class.
11. Stand up for a cause you believe in. I don't care what it is or what side of the political aisle you may be on, find something that you're passionate about and speak out about it. Maybe it's at a protest or maybe it's just in a class paper that only the professor will read. Either way, having a passion feeds your soul and you'll be amazed to find out how much you can motivate yourself. That will come in handy for the rest of your life.
12. Be good to your body after you party. It's the only one you're ever going to have and even though you're basically superman or superwoman now, that won't be the case forever. Preserve yourself for a time you can't even see yet.
13. You don't have to have all the answers right now. Part of what college is for is to help you discover your way. If you don't know what you want to do with your life, chill out. Keep your eyes open and experience some new things and it will come to you.
14. Don't worry about your debt. College costs a lot of money and unless you have a full ride, it's going to cost you. There will be time to be an adult and pay it back but that time isn't right now.
15. Finally, believe in yourself. You've made it this far and you'll make it a lot farther. Don't give up when things get hard... and they will. Trust in what got you here. You can do it. People believe in you. When you doubt, look at yourself through their eyes.
Good luck and Godspeed graduating seniors. Everything is going to be fine.