Congratulations Class of 2022! It wasn’t always easy, but you got through it.
You got through it during a global pandemic that will surely shape your life. You got through it in a time of political tumult, and you got through it during an economic downfall.
Some of you will be immediately entering the adult world and some of you will be attending college. Whatever comes next in your journey, here are 22 pieces of advice to help you navigate the waters you’re about to be thrown into.
Seek Wisdom. Find two or three people you know in life that are older and wiser than you. Watch how the handle conflict, interact with others, and handle adversity. When you’re not sure what to do next, ask yourself what those wise people would do in your situation, or ask them for help.
Be careful with information. Not all information is knowledge. Not all information is wise. Information is the key to learning and growing, but it can also be deceptive and misleading. Check and double check the accuracy of what you hear, read, see or believe. Remember, there is a big difference in “Some guy on TikTok said” and “According to The New England Journal of Medicine.”
Never Stop Learning. Your cap, gown, and diploma mean you have finished school. They do not mean you have finished learning. You will learn from others, you will learn from circumstance, and you will learn from discovery. Don’t ever think you have it all figured out and become set in your ways.
Avoid Extremes. The loudest voices you will hear will often be the most extreme. As easy and tempting as it may be to get pulled too far to the left or right on any political or social issue, realize that the truth and the whole story are often found somewhere in the middle.
Laugh. A Lot. If you’re going to laugh about it “someday,” go ahead and start laughing about it now. It’s a cliche’, but laughter truly is the best medicine. Humor can ease pain, declaw hostility, and bring sunlight to dark days.
Pick Your Battles. We live in a time of manufactured outrage, cancel culture, and public callouts. It is good and normal to have things that outrage you and hills that you are willing to die on. If you lack this kind of conviction, you’re probably doing something wrong. But, every hill isn’t worth dying on. Save anger and argument for when it is truly important.
Treat Others With Dignity. You will meet people in life that you don’t understand and whose choices you don’t agree with. No matter what you feel about someone, never strip another person of their humanity, even if it is only in your mind. When you do that, you become less human. Empathy is becoming a lost virtue and we need to regain it.
Question Authority. You’ve spent the last 18 years of your life under someone else’s authority. Now that you’re on your own, you will need to learn that it is both important and acceptable to question authority. The most successful minds in any walk of life are those who say, “Why do we do this?” or “Is there a better way?”
Be Confident. People will always believe a confident person who lacks wisdom over a wise person who lacks confidence. Confidence is a kingmaker and it can make a huge difference in who you are, who you marry, and who you will ultimately become.
But Don’t Be Cocky. Confidence only works if you are actually able to back it up. Nothing will derail you more than being over-confident and making a huge misstep because of it.
Embrace Mistakes. Mistakes are how you learn. Your biggest mistakes are also your biggest opportunities for growth.
Don’t let other people define you. Don’t let other people’s opinions of you affect how you feel about yourself or how you value yourself. This is your life, after all. It would be a shame to live it to someone else’s specifications.
Don’t define other people. The older you get, the more you will see that people don’t fit neatly in the boxes we try so hard to put them in. Give others the same grace you want them to give you. Don’t judge, don’t try to make others be exactly like you, and don’t hold people to standards that aren’t theirs.
Say “I’m Sorry.” You will hurt other people. You will have times when you are in the wrong. Own it. Don’t be afraid to humble yourself and apologize. So many lifelong grudges and heartaches could have been soothed by two simple heartfelt words.
Care about other people. Fred Rogers once said “Look for the helpers.” You also need to strive to be like the helpers. Caring for others will help you more than you know. It is the missing piece to the puzzle of happiness. Instead of following the example of the people who have been screaming for the past two years, follow the example of the people who have been helping.
Tell people what they mean to you. If you miss someone, tell them you miss them. If you love someone, tell them you love them. If you count someone as one of your closest friends, make sure they know that. Life is both too short and too long to not tell people how you feel.
Remember The Reason. Never lose sight of the reason you do something, otherwise you will lose sight of who you want to be. Wealth for the sake of wealth will only make you greedy, and love for the sake of feeling loved will only make you lonely.
Say “I Don’t Know.” The phrase “I don’t know” can be powerful and profound. It is a mark of maturity to admit you don’t have it all figured out. It is perfectly fine not to have an opinion on something, it is also fine not to have an answer sometimes. Saying “I don’t know” or “I need help” are the marks of a wise, mature, and honest person.
Friends aren’t always forever. This may shock you, but chances are the people you count among your closest friends today will be a small or insignificant part of your future. Realize that friends will come and go like waves in the ocean. Each friendship is beautiful and unique and worth the effort, but most of them will be fleeting.
Enjoy the journey. Don’t be so focused on the goal or the destination that you miss the moment, because when all is said and done, life is a collection of precious and glorious moments. Pay attention to them. Each moment will one day become a memory.
Do the thing. If you have an idea, see it through. If you have a dream follow it. If there is any part of you that is entrepreneurial and thinks you could start a business or create something that hasn’t been made yet, spend your time on that.
Ask for help. You grew up in the middle of a pandemic. The last time anyone could say that was 100 years ago. You also may have had traumatic things happen in your life. Some trauma you are fully aware of and some will rear its head later in life when you can’t sleep. Don’t be afraid to seek help if and when you need it.
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