Oftentimes, at graduation, columnists will write an open letter to the graduating class. This column, however, is an open letter to just one of those graduates. But the rest of the Class of 2018 should take this advice as well.
Allie Gibbons, we’re proud of you.
I never doubted you would shine in high school. Or in middle school. Or in elementary school. Or in kindergarten.
I base this on the fact that one of your kindergarten teachers once contacted us and asked us to please explain to you that while your contributions in class were appreciated, you were not, in fact, co-teacher. It was clear from an early age you were serious about school.
You have shined academically, and I am confident it will be more of the same in college. You have shined socially, and I am confident it will be more of the same in college. However, you have not shined at keeping your car clean, and I am confident it will more of the same in college. Prove me wrong on that one.
As you close this chapter in your life, I want to share a few things with you as you embark on the next step of your amazing journey:
- You have never been the kind of person to get embroiled in silly dramas (unless on stage, where you are supposed to be). That said, as you leave any high school dramas behind, remember there will be college dramas. And drama after college. Somewhere in a retirement home, there is drama. But you get to decide whether or not you want to be part of it.
- Fill up your gas tank. There is no Gas Fairy at college that will make sure your car isn’t on empty in the morning.
- Never get behind on laundry. Set a schedule, use that time to knock out some homework, and make it a ritual. Also, please remember that you are now in charge of your laundry, and it, like your gas tank, will never magically be taken care of.
- Credit cards are not your friend. Budgets – and sticking to them – are.
- Stop rolling your eyes. You know I’m right.
- Some of your friends from high school are friends for life. Some you may never see again. And that’s OK. The length of a friendship is designed to be exactly what it’s supposed to be.
- Be kind. You are a kind person inherently, but remember as you go into the world, you will meet an expansive array of people, far more diverse than you have experienced to date. And you never know how a simple act of kindness may help someone else.
- You are a role model. And you don’t get to choose the person you are a role model for. If you always carry yourself in a manner in which you are being your best you, you will be a great role model.
- You have a lot to learn. I don’t mean that in a negative way. I mean that the world is just opening up to share some of its amazing secrets with you. So listen. Absorb. Learn.
- At the end of each day, look in the mirror. Ask yourself if you are pleased with the decisions the person you see made that day. If the answer is no, don’t beat yourself up. Correct those decisions and answer an emphatic YES! the next day.
- Pay attention to red flags. If your gut tells you something, listen to it.
- Never punch down. It’s a cheap and shallow way to feel better about yourself. An open hand down will always be better than a fist down.
- Vote. In every election.
- Be informed and critical in your thinking, and be willing to change your opinion if presented with facts that make you say, “Hmm. You have a point.” That said, be very discerning in where you get your facts. Remember, your old man logged a lot of miles in journalism, and the old saying, “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out” is oft-repeated.
- And lastly, know that you are loved. Immensely. By lots of people. And we are all proud of you. We cannot wait to see what this next chapter holds, and the chapter after that, and the chapter after that. So get cracking on the next adventure. Right after you clean your car.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike or at www.mikeslife.us.