Tuesday, June 18, 2013
"Children get older and I'm getting older too." - Fleetwood Mac

This year, for the first time ever, I had to send high school graduation cards. Sure, I should have been sending them for a couple years now,  but this is the first year that I finally took a deep breath, pulled my big girl pants on, and actually sent out the cards. It's very strange to send out graduation cards because as much as the cards are really about saying "congratulations" and sharing a bit of college "start-up" cash, signing the card makes me feel like I'm declaring, "Look at me, I have sage advice to offer you young grasshopper." And really, at age 28, I don't exactly exude sage advice in my daily life.

But maybe I'm overthinking things. Just a little. You think?

I suppose it's strange to be on the sending end of graduation cards because I remember myself at age 18 so vividly. I can still feel the elation of being done with high school forever, the butterflies in my stomach at the thought of heading to college on my own, the bravery and resolve that was needed to make it through college orientation and just how long a time four whole years seemed then.

And yet somehow, despite the fact that I'm still a 5' 6" English major from northern Minnesota, ten years have passed since my own high school graduation and I've changed significantly in both perceivable and invisible ways from the person I was when I was on the receiving end of high school graduation cards. My  high school reunion (which I will likely not attend as this seems like a pointless judgmental social affair in which my peers will decide that the fact that I can still zip up my prom dress is my one major accomplishment in ten years) is just a month and a half off and that means, in the eyes of the under 20-year-olds in the world, I am officially old. 

As a  young old person, I felt advice practically oozing out of me as I penned those graduation cards a couple weeks back. I wanted to help ease these young grads' fears for the future, but also remind them that they're still at the very very beginning of adulthood, so for the love of Pete, don't take yourself so seriously.

I wanted to tell them that the next decade will be more about poking holes in your assumptions then it will be about proving their intellect. I wanted to say that adulthood is not a magical metamorphosis; that you will carry your unique challenges (shyness, procrastination, a hard time finishing projects, or what have you) with you for your entire life. That despite how hard your life felt at 18, you actually had it made then and that by about your senior year of college, grocery shopping will no longer be a fun exercise in independence, but a  somewhat tedious errand that must be repeated week after week, year after year, for the rest of your life. That talent is actually like the broken down vintage car in the front yard; until you spend endless hours of hard work on it, it will get you nowhere. That college cafeteria food really does make you fat. That nothing pegs you as a college freshmen faster then wearing pajama pants and flip-flops to class, even the 8 a.m. one, so please, please, please, put a pair of jeans on, eh?

But I spared them all those rambling thoughts, because really they were more about me then they were about these individuals' futures. Instead, I turned to a Mark Twain quote featured in a few of my own high school graduation cards that even just ten years out from graduation, I can already see the wisdom of: 

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." 

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