A dear friend of mine's son is finishing high school, he is a bright young man, well over 4 feet tall, and destined for college, starting this summer. His parents are very bright, expectations are high. As I am want to do, I wrote a letter offering sage advice from someone who has been there and done that, and wished I had known then what I know now. Here are some excerpts from the letter (Jen if he didn't let you read it, there was nothing to worry about.)
* Take time to sit in the shade or the sun, and just absorb the sounds of a college campus. Some of my fondest memories are sitting by a fountain between the residence halls for 15 minutes before class.
* Enjoy being a scholar, for the next few years you have the privilege of pursuing knowledge and thinking deep thoughts, just because you can. For most of us a lifetime of reading what needs to be read and thinking what needs to be thought (what someone is paying us to think) awaits.
* Learn how to learn, how to explore the world, how to develop understanding of things outside your knowledge and comfort zone, it will serve you well in life.
* Never stop learning.
* Read everything that interests you. The ancient model of higher education was not based on textbooks, it was based on reading deeply and widely, to develop a broad understanding, far beyond what is in any single book. When an idea seems incomplete - go read the underlying sources and you will find what was edited out to give you just what the author wanted you to know. Don’t let others edit your knowledge.
* A lifetime of rushing from obligation to obligation awaits, for the next few years enjoy the pace of school. Learn to say no to things that don’t have to be done. (I still struggle with this one.) You don’t have to finish college in record time (says the guy who spent nearly 10 year finishing his BA.)
* Schedule your work, so you are not rushing at the last minute. No one does their best when they are rushing. There are two kinds of work, perfect and done, you always need the second kind. (I have a friend who can’t get anything finished on time.)
* The most important thing to do the night before an exam is get a good night's sleep.
* Be true to your own self. You don’t need to be who anyone else wants you to be, or thinks you should be. Self acceptance is hard, you are a fine person just as you are. Don’t compromise yourself to try to make others happy, you won’t make them happy and you will not make yourself happy in doing so.
* It is okay to not be the life of the party.
* Find your path, do what makes you happy. If the path you are on does not make you happy, change directions. It took me three tries to find something that was a good fit for me. You deserve happiness. If you are not happy, it is okay to change.
* Travel, go wherever and whenever you can.
* Your parents love you. They will be happy if you are happy in life.
* Don’t fear leaving the past behind, we live in the now, informed by the past, and dream of the future.
* If you haven’t already, learn to do your laundry and cook for yourself. No one should be dependent on others for the basics of a civilized life. No one should feel obligated to do for you, what you can easily do for yourself. Two medium size loads of laundry will get cleaner than one overstuffed load. (Took me a few years to learn that one.)
* Don’t stifle your creative side, art, writing, whatever works for you, and don’t worry if others like it. Some of the ugliest paintings I have done have been the most meaningful to me (and most people don’t know that I paint.)