To the teens I work with who are graduating high school, still in high school, & those about to enter jr. high…
Here’s what I tell you every year.
IT’S OKAY TO FEEL EXCITED BUT ALSO SCARED. To feel like the earth is dropping out from under you & you’re unsure of how you fit. Every transition is a leap of faith, full of risk & failure & fear. That’s what makes for the best stories. The inciting incident that pushes us off the ledge into a new world of adventure. It’s also okay to enjoy the thrill of high school while, at times, hating wading through the same classes, same drama every day. When you stay the course through one adventure, it builds your wings for the next.
IT’S OKAY TO NOT KNOW WHO YOU ARE YET. You shouldn’t. The key is simply knowing who you WANT to become. What kind of person do you want to be known as? What kind of person do you want to know yourself as? And I’m not talking money or skill or fame. I’m talking kind, loyal, adventurous, open-handed…things that allow you to shape your future no matter where you land.
YOU WILL FALL. Oh loves, I pray you do. Not far enough that you forget how to get back up, but hard enough that you understand the beauty of empathy for your fellow human beings. And to learn that failure isn’t nearly as terrifying as never taking a risk is. In fact, success is dependent on you failing – because it’s the only way you learn resilience. And it’s how the future is made.
SCHOOL & SOCIAL MEDIA PREPARE YOU for many things, but the most important decision you’ll take with you is what you choose to do & who you choose to become. Don’t ask what career you want or how much money you’ll make – so much as what kind of work you want to do that helps people. Success is achieving goals, but satisfaction comes from using your skills to touch others.
POPULARITY IS OVERRATED. 5 years from now, no one will be talking about how cool or lame your social media accounts were. But they WILL remember how you treated people. And not just those in your friend group – but especially those outside of it. The ones who are just trying to fit in. They will remember how you made them feel. Relationships change lives (yours & theirs) – not selfies & honed sarcasm. And if you’re in the position now of trying to find a friend group – you’re not alone. It’s painful, but I promise friendships will blossom. Be patient, take care of yourself, and be generous with love. Most of us have been there.
YOU ARE ENOUGH. Right now in this moment. More than that – you are WORTHY. The “better years” are not behind you – and although I pray they are before you – you’re not dependent on those years or the situations they hold. Look to the future & make choices with it in mind – but love yourself today. Because YOU are who you carry into that future, you are what you can control, & you are your best friend. So learn to love yourself at a soul level – which is different than selfishness.
EVERYTHING HAS CONSEQUENCES. Don’t just “not do something” because we say so. Learn to decide what is best & wisest for YOU in light of the future you want. And listen to those older voices who’ve lived through it. Because while you can always decide to change your views & inner person, some bad choices you make will remain chosen for you. And they’ll dictate which doors open or close in your future. Delayed gratification isn’t saying no to fun until later. It’s understanding that the cost/benefit equation applies to everything. Every choice. Every habit participated in. So when you think the cost is worth the risk – make sure you not only know the extent of that risk, but of the future benefit you are embracing or giving up.
LEARN TO COOK. It will help save your life. As will learning to do a budget, CHANGING THE CAR OIL, paying attention to that still small voice that whispers, “Maybe I should grab toilet paper while I’m out,” & calling your mom once a week just to tell her you’re alive. Because that gives her the chance to say…
“You are lovely. You are loved. You are enough. I am proud of you & always here for you. You’ve got this, baby.” #graduation
Cheering us on in this community called Humanity…