Always Wear Sunscreen & 9 Far More Useful Tips For High School Graduates
High School graduation season is upon us, and it seems that everyone out there is wrought with advice to give the eager, young minds that are heading out into the real world. I remember sitting through my high school graduation listening to the speakers and wondering what in the world they were talking about. Things about living in the moment and embracing the opportunities that you're given mostly fell on deaf ears as we all eagerly awaited the moment that we could walk across that stage and grasp the piece of paper that symbolized our first step into adulthood.
So, I figured I'd impart some of the things that I've learned in the 14 years since I donned my cap and gown to the graduating classes of 2014. They probably won't listen, either.
Back around the time that I graduated, a song came out by a guy named Baz Luhrmann called "(Everybody's Free) To Wear Sunscreen". The song was based off of an article that was published in the Chicago Tribune in 1997 that was titled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young."
In the song, Baz (what kind of name is that?) gives such great tidbits of advice as "floss", "travel", and the ever-famous, "If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it".
This was not just some fleeting remark, guys. Sunscreen really is super important. Especially if you're crazy pale (no one wants a sunburn). Plus, you don't want to end up having your face look like an old baseball glove like that crazy tanning lady from Jersey.
Let me repeat that, in case you didn't hear me properly the first time. Credit cards ARE NOT free money! No matter how the credit card company tries to spin it, unless you are the only financially responsible person between the ages of 18 and 24 in the history of the world, you will end up getting yourself into trouble with a credit card.
As much as it sucks, cash is king. If you get into the habit of charging every little thing, you're going to wake up one day under a mountain of debt (and that doesn't even include your student loans) that it will take you quite a while do dig yourself out from underneath of.
I know, I know, you're a graduate, you have the diploma to prove it. But, that doesn't mean that you know everything. In fact, it means the opposite. You are just now entering the part of your life where you will learn more than you ever thought possible. And not just in the classroom.
There are people in your life that are there to help teach you life's little lessons. Listen to them. Learn from them. You don't necessarily have to agree with them, but these people (especially if they're your parents, or someone else older and wiser) are saying what they're saying to help you out. They want you to succeed. So listen to what they have to say.
I hate to break it to you, kid, but nobody's perfect. And, in your adult life, you will make mistakes. As my friend Scot so eloquently put it, "You are going to f--- up. Own your f--- up and then move on. Tomorrow is a new day." And he's right.
The good part about this, is that everybody does it. Everybody screws up. So, even though you may not see it, no one expects for you to be perfect. Your parents will hope that you are perfect, but they don't expect it. The most important thing is to learn from your mistakes and move on from them.
As long as your screw up doesn't land you in prison for the rest of your life, you'll be ok, I promise.
Another rather important thing to remember as you enter adulthood is this: It is no longer important to be popular. It is now much more important to be yourself.
And now, you're looking at this like I have a third eye growing in the middle of my head or something, I know. But, trust me, in college, no one cares how many friends you had in high school. No one cares how many awards you won, or if you were the homecoming queen.
In college, a weird thing starts to happen where people start to appreciate you for being you. So be you. And you know what? The real you will be pretty popular, too. And you'll make some great friends who appreciate you for who you really are.
Entering into college also affords you a new sense of freedom and responsibility for yourself that you've never had before. Now, I'm no fool. I know that those of you who decide that you will drink, will end up with experiences very much like some of the ones that I had in college, but I can at least throw this advice out there and hope that it will stick.
To this day, there are still certain liquors that I can't even stand the smell of because of one night in college drinking too much of them. You don't want to pass out in a hallway with your head in a trashcan. You don't want to be the one to puke in the sink at the frat party. Tequila can sometimes be your friend, but the entire bottle in one night will always be your enemy.
If you're living in a dorm, and there is a communal bathroom, you must wear shower shoes. I am not even kidding. Think about it, people do some pretty nasty things in the shower. That guy that lives down the hall who has no problem peeing in the bushes outside of a fraternity house? Yeah, he doesn't have any problem with peeing in the shower, either.
Not to mention, you don't want to end up with some sort of weird foot fungus because you couldn't be bothered to pick up a $5 pair of flip flops.
An important thing to remember is that you are now responsible for you. I mean, yes, you've always been responsible for your own actions and decisions, but for many of you, this is the first time that no one has been around to hold your hand while you do it.
Your parents aren't around to make you go to class, but you need to do it anyway. The professor isn't going to hound you to turn your homework in on time, they just expect you to do it. Rent doesn't pay itself. Neither does the electric bill.
Now is the time in your life that you need to start taking responsibility for yourself, your life, and your well-being.
Remember this one, you'll thank me later when you still have water and heat because you remembered to pay the bills.
Oh, and for goodness sake, don't get a pet. Get a plant.
Take this from someone who was continuously sick throughout her college years, you can't survive on nothing buy ramen noodles. I know, they're good. And they're cheap. But, they're also void of any sort of nutritional value. At least mostly.
So, remember the food groups, and try to eat as healthily as possible. I know it's not always easy, but it's better than ending up sick without your mom around to help take care of you.
And drink some water. Seriously.
While this may seem like an odd tip, it's really not. Mostly what it boils down to is that you also need to make sure that you make time to have fun. Especially fun with friends.
And frankly, as I've said before, there's no better way to have fun with friends than enjoying a beverage on a patio somewhere. Many Grand Rapids eateries (and drinkeries) boast amazing patios where you can sit, relax, and have a beverage.
Now, since you are a high school senior, you're probably not old enough to have a cocktail, but even iced tea tastes better when you're drinking it outside. Trust me.