First of all, congrats! Whether it be high school, college, military or whatever else has graduations, you did it! All of your hard work paid off.
I want to share some of the things I learned over the years, mostly in college, to try to help some of you. Some lessons you will have to learn the hard way, but I hope this will give you an idea of what to watch out for. It will make you stronger, smarter, better. It will hurt, and some of that pain may take a long time to fade. And we all will react to that pain differently. Just be sure to do what is best for you.
Anyway, some food for thought:
- Try new things. Especially if you are going the college route. Now is the time to find the things you like. Maybe swing dancing or improv. Campuses have a little bit of everything.
- It is absolutely okay to not know what you want to do and to change your major. I started out as a creative writing major, and now I am a C.P.A. Accounting was my third major.
- Apply for the Disney College Program! It’s fun. You will learn a lot, and it’s Disney. Do it.
- Just because it is popular, does not mean that it is your style. Not all of us can pull off feathers in our hair, though some of us tried.
- Alternate water when drinking! Believe me, it will save you a headache. Always have water.
- It is perfectly fine to be the mom of the group. Groups need the mom friend for a reason. You will help them survive.
- Learn and grow from your mistakes. There will be plenty.
- You will come to realize who your real friends are. Beware one sided friendships, and be mindful of who stays by you when there is a rough patch. Be there for your friends as well. Also, you will be the bad friend to some. If they call you out on it, try to do better.
- College weight gain is a real thing. Just because it is a buffet, does not mean you need to get pizza and a burger.
- If you feel like the outcast in your friend group, maybe you need to find different one. Do find a different group if that group does not take your outcast feelings seriously.
- You do not have to say yes to everything and please everyone. That is impossible. Again, do what is best for you.
My hardest learned lesson was toxic people. I am not a social butterfly- I have a handful of close friends and that’s it. I am mostly an introvert. But, I also felt like I should have had more friends. Been more outgoing. Basically be not me. As a result, I was the mom friend and the outcast of a friend group. I did not start out as the outcast as we were a small group, but the group expanded when I went to my DCP (no regrets there, obviously, because I am now a salaried CM), and I never really got close to the new members of the group when I got back. Those last couple years of college were hell on my mental health as I kept trying to fit in with that group. They did not treat me well, and I did not see them as toxic until I let the fact that I was the outsider consume me. I tried so hard to fix things, when I should have just let them go. Thank whatever god or goddess was watching me when I found one of my now best friends who made that last year fun and bearable. One good friend is worth more than 10 fake ones.
And family members can be toxic as well. Yes, there are different rules to handling it depending on the culture of your family and how easy it is to enforce boundaries. I had A LOT of one sided relationships with family members. And, again, it took a good friend (or several in some cases) pointing out the effect that person had on my health before I realized it. If someone is concerned about you, listen to them. A lot of times you cannot see the toxicity because you are too close. It is a hard lesson to learn without experiencing it. And I hope that you will not have to endure too much pain before you learn what is toxic to you.
So, in conclusion, the bullet pointed list is the general pieces of advise I would give to everyone. The paragraphs after were definitely more personal, but I believe that it is the biggest lesson to learn. You will have to deal with toxic people in school, work, personal life, basically everywhere. And if you cannot get rid of them, you will have to find ways to cope – i recommend having a really good friend on hand to boost you up. And if you try to tell someone they are toxic, be prepared for a world of defense mechanisms and excuses. Not everyone owns their flaws. Own yours.
I feel like this has become a hot mess of me just ranting. So, congrats again grads of 2020. Good luck in your journey, and may the odds be ever in your favor.