I saw a prompt to write the alma mater speech for my high school. Though I have only been out of high school ten years, this seemed like an interesting way to think about and collate the ideals and things I’ve learned in the past ten years. I’ve done some hard yards and been blessed beyond belief, but here’s my take on some life advice I would have liked to hear when I was 18 (but probably would have ignored):
Celebrate all five of your senses as often as you can. Lift your eyes from the iPhone screen and look out the window at the riot of beauty outside. Taste a freshly-picked blackberry. Feel the warm grass under your feet. Hear the waves crash. Smell the jasmine and frangipani when you walk down the street. Stop and take a deep inhale of air. It may not always be pleasant, but use those five senses to their fullest extent.
Travel. Spend your disposable income on plane tickets instead of clothes or fancy cars. It is the single-best gift you can give to yourself, and it will be the highlights of these trips that you think of when you look back on your life someday. It is these trips that will change you.
Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.
– Mark Jenkins
Get your heart broken, but sometimes, break it yourself. It’s easy to be a victim, but much harder to be the one who looks around and decides not to settle, or to demand more. This goes for friendships just as much as romantic relationships.
Do not ever compare yourself to someone else. It’s sells out what you’re worth, what you’ve done, who you are. Nobody’s life is a charmed as it seems, some people are just better at being grateful.
No matter how successful you become, at some point, you will fail. Accept it early, and remember it when it’s happening. It will never be the end of the world. In some cases, it may be the beginning of it.
No matter how hard things get, when you start wallowing in that pit of despair, stop and think of three things you are grateful for. A clear day, a mother who loves you, snuggles from a dog. There is always something to be thankful for.
Risk everything, at least once in your life. Don’t live your life in the shadow of fear. You will never regret trying, but you will always regret not trying.
Have goals, set them high. Achieve when you can, be motivated, do great things. But don’t forget to enjoy working toward them. Don’t forget that goals are allowed to change with your circumstances and passions. Don’t finish for the sake of finishing, finish for the joy of the result.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
– Ernest Hemingway