So, here it is. I have only 48 hours left to teach Hannah what she needs to know before she flies the nest. At the end of Hannah’s baccalaureate mass, the school played a recording of all of the CDH teachers sending either wishes to the students or dispensing words of wisdom. It was a cool thing, but one of the only words of wisdom that stuck was from the head of the library and IT center, who told the kids that their online passwords were just like their toothbrushes–they should be sure to never share them with another person and to change them every month or so. Good advice.
Why is it that we feel so compelled to give out words of advice to our graduates? Sometimes I think that Hannah likely has more to teach me (or has at least taught me more in her time with me) than I have to teach her. Still, here are some things I know. The folk artist Patti Griffin has a “send you on your way song.” Hannah, this is my “send you on your way list.”
- Travel abroad all you can now, before you have too many ties holding you at home. You will never be this (relatively) free again.
- Mindfully consider every new purchase you make. In this global market, most items come from destinations that exploit resources and people. Look behind the hidden price tag to evaluate whether you really need the item. Can you buy it second hand? Can you do without?
- In the same line as #2, stuff comes with ties. Every item you choose to bring into your life has to be cared for or at least stored for as long as you keep it. Acquiring stuff doesn’t just drain your pocket book, it drains your life energy as well (and the world’s collective energy, as noted in #2).
- If you are going to buy new, buy quality items to last. I still wear a dark green cotton turtleneck from JCrew, that I purchased when I was 18 years old.
- Consider entering a career where you will be directly helping others. If you don’t do so, you may begin to feel a large moral deficit in your life around age 30. Not saying this will happen, but it might.
- Don’t be afraid to change your mind when faced with a big decision, be it while walking down the aisle to get married or changing your major or changing your career someday (perhaps multiple times).
- Don’t get married or enter another such committed relationship until you feel you truly know yourself and the direction you want your life to go (in my humble opinion, this doesn’t usually happen until age 25 or later).
- I love you dearly and loved you from the moment I met you. Still, as you can see with Josh, children can sidetrack your plans. Be prepared to change your plans if you decide to have children. Again, if possible, know yourself before having kids.
- You were born early in my life, while I was still striving for that unattainable goal of perfection. I think that, as a result, you became a perfectionist too. In case I’ve never told you, you have my permission to fail, to not be the best at something, to actually choose mediocrity when it serves you. Indeed, my failures have taught me more than my successes.
- You will be hurt in love. Family members, friends, and romantic partners will disappoint you. Still, do not hold back. Embrace those close to you. Keep your heart open, even to the pain and the hard lessons. In the end, it’s always worth it. [*This does not mean to stick around in any relationship where a person is mistreating you or disrespecting you. That kind of hurt is not normal or useful.]