The seniors in my youth group that I lead are graduating. I'm happy for them, and extremely proud.
I remember what this feels like. This overwhelming excitement/anxiety about graduating. I was one of those loved high school, would have stayed there forever kind of kids. I secretly hoped my high school would just build a community college in the backyard so I could go there. I remember crying every time I heard a song with the word goodbye in it, dreading giving one last hug to my besties, staying up all night in someones backyard. Those were really the best days.
I can honestly say that I am honored and blessed to know these kids. I have known most of the youth group seniors since they were little, and have watched them grow up through the years. For the past two years I have been lucky enough to work with them at youth group. They are unique individuals, beautiful souls and hearts. They love life and they care about each other. One of them is also a volunteer at my hospice and he has been a prime example of human connection, graciousness, and compassion. Each of these young people have taught me so much about life. I have no doubt that they will make an impact on the world and I cannot wait to hear their stories.
As one of the "adults" in their life, it's part of my responsibility to dish out some advice for their first year of college. Here you go, kids.
- I know you're ultra busy with your friends, but spend time with your family, too. Your parents have gotten you this far, and they want to have quality time with you before you move away. Go to the movies with them, cook dinner for them. Take your little sister to the mall. Go to your little brother's soccer games. Your family are going to be the ones who come to your rescue when you need it the most, so make sure to squeeze them into your schedule.
- Say thank you to every single teacher, role model, mentor, etc that pushed you through high school and helped to mold you into who you are right now. They will love hearing it, and you'll feel a sense of relief in letting out your gratitude.
- Enjoy yourself. Do not get wrapped up in petty drama. Time is moving too fast, now. You don't want to leave your friends on a bad note. Have fun. Surround yourself with people who you care about and who care about you.
- Don't have too much fun. Be safe and smart.
- Save your money. If you have a summer job, don't blow it the second the paycheck is deposited to your account. Save it. You're going to need it. There will be a random Thursday night in college when you won't want cafeteria food, ramen noodles, or pizza, and you should be able to have enough cash to take yourself out for a normal meal.
- Call home at least twice a week.
- Be friendly, but not too friendly. Don't let people take advantage of you.
- Find something that fits your interests and become involved in it- a club, an academic group, a church community on campus, something.
- Keep your values in check. Do not change your beliefs to fit in.
- If you get stuck on something and need help, call someone from back home- someone who knows you and who has seen all sides of you.
- Surprise people with handwritten notes.
- STUDY. Study some more. Work hard. Do well in your classes.
- Ask questions.
- Don't stress about your major. You may wind up doing something completely different anyway. Do what suites you but know that your life is going to take many different turns.
- Donate to your high school. Even if it's $10 a year.
- Be yourself.
So Erin, Annie, Gracie, Ish, Trish, Pat....hugs to you. I am going to miss you guys, and I wish you the very best of luck. I hope you know that I looked forward to my Sunday nights with you. There were many times when those few hours cheered me up or changed my perspective on something.