Thursday, May 25, 2017

10 Tips to My 18 Year Old Graduate Self

May is the time for graduations. From preschool to grad school, my Facebook feed is full of photos showing beaming graduates of every age and the tearful families who love them.

I’m a sucker for graduations. The pageantry, the ritual, the joy of new possibilities…I just love it. Even if it’s only a TV commercial, I start to tear up when I hear “Pomp and Circumstances.” Every. Single. Time.

I got to thinking about my own high school graduation in 1975 and what I’d tell myself at that age if I had the chance. At 18 I wasn’t ready for a lot of hard truths, but here’s 10 tips that would have made the next 40+ years easier:

1) Do what scares you. Meet new friends, have adventures. Take more risks. And when that sweet girl in your dorm freshman year asks you to go with her and a few friends to hear her cousin play in a new band, GO! Her cousin turns out to be Clarence Clemons and you could have met Bruce Springsteen and the rest of the E Street Band. Studying for that stupid history test only got you a B anyway.  

2) Listen to the wisdom of your inner voice. Balance “what makes sense” in your head with what your heart tells you is true. You’ll have several situations where you went directly against what you knew in your heart was the best choice…and you’ll regret it. Mom was right. Listen to your intuition. Like when you felt pulled to go to the hospital to see your friend “D” but didn’t want to intrude. Go. Turns out you don’t get another chance.

3) It sucks, but Mom was right about a lot of things. Just accept it. You’ll understand more when you have your own kids.

4) Dad was right too, especially about money. Put some away every month. The years do go by faster than you think and you’ll wish the money you spent “investing” in your 8-Track, Pet Rock and Beanie Baby collections had been sitting in a bank benefiting from years of compound interest. 

5) Always tell people what they mean to you, how much you love them. Never hold a grudge. Forgive freely. Holding on to hurt never helps. Love yourself and forgive yourself for everything. You finally figure out all your “mistakes” were opportunities to grow. Trust me, you end up with TONS of growth opportunities.

6) Turns out meditation isn’t just for weirdos and hippies. It becomes your foundation in a decade or two and changes your life in miraculous ways. Don’t fight it.

7) Calm down. Just calm the hell down. What you think is a big deal, usually isn’t and the really scary stuff you never see coming. Learn to be more present in each moment and you’ll do far better than worrying about a thousand possible situations in the future.

8) Stop worrying so much about your weight and hair. Get more exercise and trust hair products will be invented that will tame that curly mane (it takes a few decades though). You’ll finally learn you are not your looks. The sooner you figure this out, the better life becomes. Oh, and when you hear about this thing called a “Brow Bar” run, do not walk, to the closest one as fast as you can. (I know I just told you you’re not your looks, but it doesn’t hurt to be well groomed.)

9) Every second of every day is precious. Do your best to not waste a minute. 

10) You were absolutely right about one thing. Elton John IS still rocking well into his 70’s! And he still sounds amazing.