Graduation Day 1990
I wrote this letter 10 years ago. It was my 40 year old self writing to my 18 year old self. I thought about writing a different one this year. But I wouldn't change a thing.
You probably thought this day would never come and I know you're counting the days until you leave for school. You've put in a lot of hard work and have endured many things. There are so many many many many things I'd like to tell you, to warn you about, but unfortunately I know I can't change the past nor can I change your future so I'll stick to the things that will be important to pay attention to along the way. These are the things you'll learn in the near future. Sometimes these will be great and fun lessons to learn, but other times you'll learn them the hard way.
1) Don't Sweat The Small Stuff - and it really is all small stuff.
When you're a freshmen in college you'll get really bent out of shape when your computer disc doesn't work. You'll freak out as a sophomore when your sorority sisters don't know their lines for a rush skit. You'll think you've lost it all when you get your first "D" in a class. But the truth is its really small stuff. Technology failures teach you to always make many back ups. Dealing with people who do things at the last minute will teach you that you can't control other people and that their differences make them who they are. You'll learn that sometimes "D" is for "done" and there's always another chance to take it again. There are very few things in your life that you can't you can't learn from, do better next time, or deal with on some level, and for those things that you can't deal with, see point number 2.
You're at a point now where your faith is strong and growing. It'll have its ups and downs as you get older but your faith can get you through anything. I'll talk about this on two levels but there's also a lot of overlap. First of all there is your faith in God. From your earliest moments you've been able to feel the presence of God around you, but as you get older you'll realize that God is more than a presence. He's more than just around you. He's living and active in your life and if you'll take the time to communicate with God more, you'll find that you are called to do amazing things. Which brings me to the next level of this discussion: have faith in yourself. God will equip you to do all that He calls you to do and when you believe that, you can really do anything. All the times in life that you have done well and succeeded, you truly believed that you could and you gave the credit to the One who gifted you.
3) Continue to Learn.
You always gave your mother too much trouble about "not using her education" for those years she stayed at home. And I'm sure you don't want to hear this now but her answer was spot on: "You can never waste an education." Learning is important and the more you continue to learn the more you can do. Remember to learn beyond the classroom. Those things that we learn each day don't just make us smart; they make us wise.
4) Always have fun!
This may sound difficult to do when you're in the middle of mid-terms, but your attitude will make all the difference. I still remember the all-nighters with my study partners and although I'd never do it again, I cherish the memories.
5) Respect others.
Everybody is different. If they weren't it'd be boring. Its easy to criticize those who are different than us, especially when its their ideas that are different, but try to find what is fascinating about them. Respect who they are. Who knows? You may change their mind and having respect for them will go a long way in your argument. Plus if you can't respect another person then its hard to have fun and learn from them. If that's the case - politely distance yourself.
There's so much more I want to tell you but what I'd really like to do is give you a hug. You are loved and you are not alone. Go and make the world a better place. You can do it!
I encourage you to write a letter as well. It is very therapeutic.
P.S. - And always remember that you are loved. More than you'll ever know.