For Kelsey’s graduation, I made her a little kit of things she will need for her dorm room this fall. Each item had a silly little poem on it with some sort of advice. Like the tape said, “Tape, to help remind you to stick with it.”
Additionally, I wrote her a letter. Basically, it is just random advice that hope she will take in as she starts this new chapter in her life.
As you close the chapter of high school and begin a new one in college while fending off the “real world” for a few more years, we would like to impart a little bit of unsolicited advice to you that we have learned throughout our lives. Do with it what you will, though we pray that you will find at least a little bit of wisdom amongst these next few pages.
It is easy to assume that as a high school graduate you have learned about life, love, and loss, but trust me when I tell you that everything you thought you knew will be turned upside down so many times over the next several years that you will soon look back yourself at eighteen and realize just how naïve and innocent you truly were to so many things. I know you think you’ve got it all figured out, and that’s ok. You will figure it all out soon enough. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow all the way up.
My dear niece, unfortunately, it can be cruel out here in the so-called real world. I wish I knew what lay ahead for you and could shield you from the inevitable heartbreaks and disappointments that will cross your path. Take each bump in the road and learn from it. Be sure to not pass on the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of those around you as well. In fact, they may save you from troubles of your own.
Always keep your mind and your heart open. Make sure you remember there are two sides to every story. You will not always be right. Learn to accept that. It will save your relationships with others.
Don’t sell yourself out just because your friends do. Grandma Jones always held her grandkids to a higher standard for a reason. Don’t let her or yourself down. Make wise choices. You were taught right from wrong. Remember it. Use it. You have a conscience. Let it guide you when the decisions are big and even when they are small. That voice may be quiet at first, but let it get loud. Listen to your heart, but don’t forget your head.
Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends the way you feel. Don’t be afraid to let someone know when they’re invading your bubble.
Don’t let too many things slide and fall through the cracks. Procrastinating on writing that 15 page paper until the night before it is due will not do you any favors. On that same note, save and save often. There is nothing worse than finishing the last perfect sentence of your final essay and having your laptop battery die before you were able to save the final draft. Ctrl +S
Don’t forget that beauty does not mean a size 4 with perfect hair and skin. It can mean that, but it can also mean so much more. True beauty is much more than just skin deep. Be beautiful from the inside out and you will truly shine.
You are talented. You are smart. You are funny. You are beautiful. You are strong. Don’t let anyone ever convince you otherwise. You can accomplish anything you dream. So dream big.
Realize that at the very tender age of 18 when you begin your college journey it is okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up. “Undeclared” does not mean no ambition. In fact I encourage you to take the first year to figure it all out. Take an art class. Take a science class. Take a class in anything you think you might enjoy. You have four long years ahead of you and those credits will be used.
Decide what you want to do first, and then do it. Don’t let anyone change your mind, or base it on money. Do what will make you happy, and you will be so good at it you won’t care about how much you’re getting paid.
Learn to take advice. Learn to listen to the life lessons others are willing to offer. You only get one chance to do it right and I wish I could hold your hand and protect you from all the pain and disappointments that happen in life but I simply can’t.
At times life sucks. It’s hard and it will screw you over if you allow it to. People aren’t always honest. Things aren’t always the way they seem at first glance. While this is true, don’t let it make you hard. Don’t let it make you afraid to trust people. Trust, but be smart. Someone who hurts you once is likely to do it again. Do not become anyone’s doormat. You are much stronger than this.
The nicest people may be the ones you won’t associate with because you don’t think they are good enough to be your friend. Friends will come friends will go. Hang on to the good ones. You will find that there aren’t many around.
Guys can be jerks, not all, but enough of them. There’s a quote that says “a man is not worth your tears, and the one who is won’t make you cry.” That’s true. I never realized how true it was until now. They will tell you they love you and yeah sometimes, they mean it, but other times not. Sometimes the “I love you” is simply spoken to see how far that will take them.
Be careful who you choose to let into your heart. Never let a boy pressure you. Don’t lose yourself in anyone. You will realize soon enough that maybe God had you in mind long ago when He created your perfect match. Don’t fall for a cheap imitation of love. As many times as I thought I knew what love was, I didn’t fully understand its depth or magnitude until I met Patrick. I want that for you too. Don’t let your heart get broken so many times that there is nothing left to give to the one God made you for. Guard your heart. Also be mindful of the hearts of others. Heartbreaker is not a title to wear proudly.
My wish for you is that you will understand that you must first love yourself as much as you expect someone else to love you. If you do not love yourself, my dear, it’s not that no one else will, it’s that no one else can.
Don’t let a simple “I love you” rush you into something that you know you will regret in the morning.
Learn to live. Live for the moment, not in the past, not for the future, but for this very second, this very moment. You are only this age once in your life, don’t waste it, don’t abuse it, and don’t let it pass you by.
Love hurts. After it’s gone, you miss it more than you thought you ever could. Don’t take it for granted or anything else for that matter. You really don’t ever know what you got until it’s gone.
Love is wonderful. you can feel like you are 100 ft. above the earth just remember there’s a long way down and be careful not to fall too fast.
When you do fall from love, or friends, or life, rest awhile then get back up. It’s the only way to ease the pain.
Don’t be afraid to cry. It’s good for you. It makes you real. Remember the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, when the rabbit cried, that is when he truly became real. It is the pain, the sadness, the tears that make us human. They make us real. Cry for what you have lost, cry for the hurt you feel, cry for what others have lost, cry for hurt others feel. Cry because of a bad grade, a bad friend, some bad advice you mistakenly took, or just a bad hair day, and realize that it is okay. It is okay to cry for absolutely any reason, and for absolutely no reason at all. On the other hand, don’t forget to laugh for absolutely any reason, and for absolutely no reason at all.
Every once in awhile step outside of yourself, and evaluate your life. Are you where you want to be? Are you the person you want to be? Set your goals, and don’t ever lose sight of them, because once you do it can be difficult to get back to them, and they can be too easily forgotten.
Let it out. When I was thirteen, one of my friends told me, “if you never let anything out and never cry and you always hold everything thing in and only cry on the inside after a while you’ll mold.” Silly, I know, but still some of the best advice I was ever given.
Realize that others do care. Also realize that you may be surprised by who it is that cares. Who you think is your best friend maybe the one stabbing you in the back, and the one you always shun, because their hair isn’t right or their clothes aren’t the latest style, that may be the one person that is willing to hear your problem, and give you some compassionate advice.
Don’t judge others. Realize you aren’t perfect, and so you shouldn’t expect anyone else to be. Leave the judging up to God and those in the black robes with gavels.
Family can be annoying and not always right, though often they are. They have good points every once in awhile. So listen. Don’t always agree, but consider it. They mean well, they love you, and they only want what is best for you. Let them be a part of your life, don’t shut them out. One day you may really need them, and if you have spent all your energy shutting them out and letting them know you don’t need them, it will be hard to ask for help. Make it easy on yourself, by taking it easy on them.
College is a great time to discover who you really are. Anything that you didn’t like about yourself in high school, change it. I never knew that I could tell a joke and be funny until I got to college and realized that I didn’t have to be the quiet girl that I was in high school. It was during my years in college that I figured out who I was without being “so and so’s best friend” or “so and so’s girlfriend.” I found out that me, just me by myself was pretty great and people actually liked me. It was such a change to let down walls and let new people in. Try it. Don’t get stuck in the same clique from high school. The world is so much bigger than your small circle of friends. Discover it and enjoy it.
Don’t worry. Don’t stress. I realize that these things are easier said than done, but attempt it. There is no use in worrying as it never solves anything and will certainly only cause wrinkles. Stress will come, but when it does breathe deep and realize that this too shall pass. Close your eyes and let it go. The future, dear one, will take care of itself.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Sometimes the fear of failure lets us know that what we are doing is worth succeeding at.
Be kind. Please and thank you really are magical words. Holding a door open for a stranger may be the only kind act they see that day. Always smile at little kids it makes them feel important. Always say hello to senior citizens it makes them feel remembered. A lot of people will speak negatively of your generation. Change their minds with a sweet smile and a polite word.
I truly believe you are capable of changing the world. Make it a good change.
Remember that while green may look great on you, jealous envy does not. Do not worry that someone else may be smarter, prettier, funnier, or where you want to be. It is a certain fact that someone else is looking at you and thinking the same thing. You will not always be the best and that is okay. Accept it and make peace with it. But this doesn’t mean you should ever quit striving for success. The journey is long and you will reach your goal if just keep pushing forward.
Ignore the negative. There will be plenty of people who will try to bring you down. Don’t let them. Keep that chin up, buttercup.
At the end of the day remember you are not made for this world. God created you, my sweet niece, to be perfectly you. Every hair on your head, every freckle on your nose He put there. God doesn’t make mistakes and He has placed you exactly where you are supposed to be. Don’t forget Him. There are times, especially in your college years, that it is easy to set Him aside. Following the crowd, after all, is always easier than that narrow line. But as you are well aware, we don’t always get a second chance to make things right. Doing the right thing maybe the hard thing, but dear girl, the repercussions of not are just way too big. Regret is not something you want to live with. Do the right thing and your regrets will be few.
Life will hurt you, heal you, make you laugh, and make you cry. However, never be afraid to live and learn. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Have fun living. Cherish the moments. Breathe it all in. Remember the details. Take photographs. Save letters. Journal. Love with every fiber of your being. Love like your heart has never been broken. Enjoy the journey.
Love you bunches,
Aunt Vicky (and Uncle Patrick too)
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.