I am writing this to help you build a foundation of consciousness from which to navigate the world that you will soon become familiar with. Every man can teach another a multitude of valuable lessons, but I hope you see the value in the ones that I provide for you here – catered to you and written solely for your reference. The world sees us in many of the same ways, and the world you experience over the course of your adolescence and early adulthood will be in many ways similar to mine. There are core challenges we will both continually face, processes we both must master and regrets we will both seek to avoid. Rather than bore you with personal stories, spook you with cynicism, or patronize you with clichés about how to get into your dream college, I want to share with you lessons and truths I have learned about the world. You deserve guidance that will help you master the next several decades of your life, not just the upcoming years. In this letter, I will also spend some time dispelling assumptions and sentiments that the world around us accept as truth yet when observed in detail are of little value or only hold true for the immediate future.
Stay awake in every sense. We live in a time in which the society we live in and the culture in which we exist appears to change daily. The world, in actuality will remain the most consistent factor in your life. Almost every component of our existence is finite: it will at some point cease to exist because its composition is temporary. The factors that make up this world, and the rules that govern its existence will remain far after we leave the earth. Your ability to master these principles will be integral to your ability to master your experience on this earth.
Here are some principles that I have learned:
Our lives are a culmination of habits, which form our behaviors, which are reflections of our beliefs. Aristotle once proclaimed “We are what we repeatedly do” and this is true in every sense. Though the lens from which our outer world views us may remain outside our control, our true identity as people is one of the few things we can control. Only we can know who we truly are, and only we can improve who we are. It is imperative that we form the habits that align with our strongest convictions. We gain confidence from this, and we are able to fulfill our Maker’s true calling for our lives when we develop and fine-tune our lives around these convictions. You must begin the process of identifying, developing, questioning, and challenging your own beliefs. William Butler Yates proclaims that “It takes more courage… to examine the own soul than for a soldier to fight on the battlefield” and this also rings true. The process of challenging who you are will prove to be at the very least an uncomfortable one. Face the inner flinch you may feel when a certain topic comes up in a discussion, write about the things that you fear, and demand of yourself an answer for why these insecurities exist. Formulate a list of ten things you would die for; review this list each day. If at any point you feel that you should remove or add an item to the list, do so immediately.
In this same vain, seek out who you are, where you are from, and who made your existence possible. Do your best to understand the people who have influenced your family and your people. Seek out information on those who formed and upheld the institutions you interact with each day (school, church, rec. centers). What did these people stand for?
Co-Authored by Robin Mckinnie