To the newly graduated High School Class of 2016:
Congratulations! You did it! You are not in high school anymore. As I’m sure you are tired of people saying, your lives are about to change. In a way that you can’t grasp now, but some day you will look back at the summer before your freshman year of college and think, ‘wow, I was such a different person then.’ This change isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a change. It doesn’t have to be scary! You are starting a new adventure. When you get to college orientation, look at the people around you. They are starting a new adventure too. Think of your freshman year as a mountain expedition. When you walk around to find your classes, talk to your new professors, attend mixers, you’re getting a feel for the new terrain. Your first few weeks are learning the ropes—you’re starting to climb. What happens after that is really up to you.
And that’s the thing. For maybe the first time in your life, what you do day-to-day is all about what you decide. You shouldn’t have someone over your shoulder, dictating your every action. This is your first solo mission. The only advice I can offer you that I know to be a hundred percent true, is that college is not going to be what you expect. It doesn’t even matter what you expect! You could expect to hate college, you could expect to love it, or you could expect that college is just going to be a ‘meh’ experience for you, but no matter what, it’s going to defy your expectations in every way that it can. It’s true that the courses will be tough. But it’s because they are challenging and engaging. It’s true that the nights will be sleepless. But it’s because you will be up laughing with your friends over a pizza you ordered at 1 AM. You might not be ready for college. But is anyone, really? Just get out there, try your hardest, and do the best you can. I want to leave you with a few lines from Baz Luhrmann’s song “Sunscreen” with strong encouragement to listen to the whole thing. Right now. Stop what you’re doing and listen. And when you’re sitting in your dorm room, cramming for an exam, scared and anxious, stop and listen again. The rest of your life starts now. Welcome to life after high school.
”Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
”Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t know.”