If the recent activity on my Facebook newsfeed is any indication, it looks like a whole bunch of you kids have just graduated high school. Congratulations on completing the easiest part of life. Nevertheless, every chapter in life, no matter how juvenile, presents a learning opportunity. Here are some little pearls of wisdom for all of you who have just taken the plunge into actual adulthood:
1. Take, at least, two years to just do you.
This is the time in your life to be selfish. Find your direction, seize opportunities, and do it for you and no one else. Go to college. Travel. Get a job. Pick up a new hobby. Use this time to really figure out what path is yours. This is not the time to make decisions that involve another person; I’m talking about jumping straight into a serious relationship of any kind. Give yourself time to focus on your individual goals.
2. Don’t visit home every weekend.
Seriously. Don’t. If you are at college or doing some sort of internship or whatever, don’t run home to Mama and Daddy every weekend. Don’t go to all your old high school’s sporting events and, for the love of all that’s sacred, please don’t be that girl who tries to get an underclassmen to take her to prom so that she can go for a third time (looking at you, Jenna from high school). That time in your life is over; you’re not an Anderson High Armadillo, anymore. If you spend too much time trying to hold on to your high school days, you’ll miss out on all the cool new opportunities that college/work life presents.
3. No one gives a shit that you were Homecoming Queen.
Actually, no one gives a shit about any of your high school accomplishments (except for, maybe, volunteer work). If you were voted Best Dressed or Next Bill Gates or Prom Queen/King, that’s awesome, more power to you. Do NOT include this on a resume. Do NOT assume that everyone will think that, because you earned some kind of superlative, you are in any way a particularly exceptional young person. Life and reputation starts over after high school, from the ground up, and the rules have changed. You are now at the bottom of the barrel. Remember that.
4. Let go of the people that don’t matter.
High school is like a fishpond, where all the fish know each other and there’s no escape, because you’re trapped in the pond with all these fish. Well, little fishy, you’ve just been dumped into the ocean and you can swim wherever you want with whomever you want. In your new adult life, you will find that friendships take work. Stay in touch with the people that matter, forget about the ones that don’t. Who cares what that one chick in math class is up to now? Trim up that Facebook friends list. Also, in college and the workplace, you will constantly be meeting different people with different talents, from different walks of life. Cliques don’t have to be a thing. Your friendship is like an exclusive nightclub and you’re the bouncer, only let in the people that will make your life interesting and fun.
5. Adult life means adult consequences.
From this day forward, every bad choice you make will be tried in an adult Court of Law. Just saying…
6. Life isn’t about outdoing everyone else.
This goes back to my first point about doing you. Be honest with yourself about what you want and what you’re capable of. Don’t try and go to med school solely because you want to have something impressive to say at family functions. Don’t settle for less just because your goals aren’t sitting right in front of you. There will always be people who seem to be setting the world on fire, there will also be people who you look at and think to yourself, “Thank god that’s not my life.” None of those people matter. There is more than one path to success and there are no life paths that are more or less significant that another. Instead of worrying about where you will rank with respect to other people, make your decisions based on what will bring you happiness and fulfillment.
7. Be open to change.
Just because you told all your friends that you were going to major in Fashion Design doesn’t mean that you have entered into some soul-binding contract to major in Fashion Design. It’s too soon to lock yourself into one thing. Move to a new city. Change your major. Drop out of school and enter a job. Go to school instead of working at home. Mark Twain said it best, “Sail away from the safe harbor. Explore. Dream. Discover.”