Our Time Is Done. Your Time Is Now. My advice...

Advice I wish to pass on to the JMU Freshmen of yesterday and tomorrow.

I know it hasn’t even been a week, and I need time to let it all sink in, but there is no denying it... I am feeling pretty down. Not completely depressed, yet definitely not “exploding” with cheer. Bittersweet is a word for it, I guess. This past week, as folks have been constantly asking me the now dreaded question, “So, what’s the plan for after graduation?” I have pretty much given the same response, “I'm taking some time off…” on and on. Then, the conversation usually morphs into a discussion of feeling. “How do you feel?” or, “how does it feel?” the even more so dreaded questions at this point in my life. To this dark cloud of words strung together, I will often respond with something like this: “I feel everything...and nothing, all at the same time.”

And it is true, that is exactly how I feel. I am feeling every emotion and no emotion at the exact same time.

It is something that I can not explain very well in words, especially not typed-out on a computer. If I had to pick one emotion, I would say that I am sad. It is almost as if I am grieving...the type of grief that comes when you leave your childhood home, or some other place where you find yourself so deeply rooted. Except, it is worse because it is not only the place but the people that MADE the place. The people who became friends, family, and made the experience special. It is a kind of grief that I have felt before, and I can tell you this... I am not a fan.

With all this being said, the rambling string of lamentation from a recently graduated “old man”, I want to take a moment and pass on some key advice that, I believe, serves a person well in their own, unique Madison experience.

To all you rising Sophomores, you survived Freshman year! More so, I hope that you thrived during Freshman year. As you begin to really enter your time here at JMU, here is some advice, if you wish to take it...

  1. Don’t return/sell all those books just yet. See what may be useful after this year.
  2. If you haven't made a JMU bucket list yet...do it! Right now!
  3. Be prepared for the course load...it will increase. Like, a lot.
  4. ALWAYS make time for the three F’s: food, friends and fun.
  5. Follow your gut. You’ll find that it has a keen wit.
  6. Explore areas of campus, or organizations that you haven’t yet!
  7. Prep for living off campus EARLY. Trust me on this...DO IT.
  8. Forgive someone...or yourself...or both.
  9. Breathe, and never stop remembering to do so.
  10. Reflect on the past year. Celebrate the successes, celebrate the failures too! The most important thing to do is to identify what your mistakes were and learn from them. Leave with no regrets.

To all you incoming Freshmen... welcome to JMU! You will hear some folks call this the happiest place on earth... because it is! Or at least, it can be. It is what you make it. As you prepare to embark the incredible journey that is college, here is some advice, if you wish to take it...

  1. Always hold the door open, even if the person is a mile away.
  2. Smile big, and smile often.
  3. Always thank the bus driver. Always.
  4. Never pass up an opportunity to take the trek to EHall.
  5. If you can spend time on the Quad between classes, definitely do it.
  6. Get into the habit of managing your time...NOW. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH.
  7. Remember that one mistake (or one hundred) does not decide your worth. This is a small piece to a very long life. It is what you make it. You decide your happiness, no one else. :)
  8. ALWAYS make time for the three F’s: food, friends and fun.
  9. Get to know your campus and the people that inhabit it. The place will feel even more like home than it already does.
  10. In the words of Peter Dinklage, “The world is yours. Treat everyone kindly, and light up the night.”

And honestly... there is so much more.

Much love to you all. I know that you will do great things in your time here at JMU. Whatever you do, put it all out there and leave this campus with no regrets.

And above all, remember this...time is a strange thing. Try not to blink.

Dukes from day one. Alumni for life. #GoDukes!