It’s that time of year again when all possibilities await at the never-ending line better known as the “horizon.”
It’s the line where youth meets adulthood. Dreams meet plans. Feet meet pavement.
It’s a special place, a place we are privileged to visit only so few times in life.
But the horizon can also be a scary place for some of us.
A very scary place.
A place where unsure and confused collide.
A place where “You Can” fights desperately against “You Can’t,” and sometimes loses.
A place where left leads one way and right leads another, and deciding which way to go is the most difficult decision you’ll ever make.
Sweet graduate, whether you are moving on to high school, college, or the real world, let me offer you some advice.
It’s not advice given flippantly, nonchalantly, or even ignorantly.
It’s advice given from just beyond the horizon, the place where actions meet consequences and those consequences aren’t always pretty.
1. It’s Never Too Late to Start Over Again (Until It Is)
You are at a very special place in time: The Place of New Beginnings.
You have the opportunity to leave the past behind, to become whoever it is you would like to be.
Now is the time to make real friends, to become the most authentic you.
Don’t allow a foolish desire to be “popular,” to be in the right social club or clique, keep you from making honest friends, true ones.
Don’t let who you “think” you should be keep you from being who you really are.
Don’t allow what you “think” you should do to keep you from doing what you’re called to do.
Find friends that love you for you. Friends you can hang out with, tell secrets to, and do all the crazy things (or not-crazy because that is totally fine and actually even better) that high-schoolers, college gals and singles do.
Find a path that is yours to walk.
And find it as soon as possible. Make those decisions now, the good ones, the right ones for you.
Because there will come a day that something broken can’t be fixed. That a wrong has to be accepted because it can’t be made right.
That is the awful place where self-condemnation lies, and it is hard to leave.
My wish for you is to never find yourself there. So make the fresh and new and good choices now. Don’t wait.
2. Never Make a Decision Based on a Love Interest
Let me tell you a story. I actually prefer to call it a MAJOR CAUTIONARY TALE:
As a young woman who had lost her way early on, I looked for love in ALL the wrong places.
And I thought I found it. It looked so, so promising. All the right stars fell in line.
And I fell in love—head. over. heels. in. love. Or so I thought.
Not a soul could have convinced me it wasn’t real. Not a soul could have told me this was not the love I was supposed to be waiting for.
As is usually par for the course where two hurt people hurting each other are concerned, it ended. Badly. But not without a whole lot of tender places on the heart that still throb to this day when pressed.
This isn’t the case—and won’t be—for some of you. You WILL find your prince charming or lady-in-waiting in high school or college. They WILL be everything you’re looking for.
But the stats show that so very few of us end up with our high school sweethearts.
I’d like to add that a great deal of those who do end up marrying their college sweethearts would be quick to say they did it because of timing—you know, the next best thing to do—which isn’t always the right thing to do.
So give it time. Put yourself first. Make decisions in high school and college based on your wants, your desires.
This may be the ONLY time in life you get to be selfish.
3. Don’t Put Yourself in a Position Where You Are FORCED to Make a Decision
I’ll just put this to you bluntly.
If you or your significant other get pregnant, you’ll have three choices:
- Abortion, which you will live with forever
- Adoption, which you will live with forever
- A Baby, which you will live with forever
It’s that simple. And you won’t want to make any of those choices, probably, but you’ll have to.
Even the choices that seem easy or necessary to make will have lifelong consequences: the classes you choose, college you attend, social group you join, job you take, etc.
So what can you do?
Be intentional. Be vigilant. Think of the future, and make choices that positively affect the next year and decade.
But before you think about the future…
4. Remember the Past
Think about the dreams you dreamed as a child. I’m talking three, five, and seven years old.
What did you want to be?
What did you hope to accomplish?
How did you want to be known?
When I was a little girl, my dream was to be a dance teacher or music teacher or writer. At some point I think I wanted to be all three at the same time.
I wanted to get married and live in my hometown.
I wanted to own a big, beautiful home, have a couple of kids, a dog, and a really cute husband.
Those are the dreams of many little girls, and I was one of them.
But a lot of stuff happens between seven and seventeen, and sometimes it’s not all good.
And it can change you, often into a person you no longer recognize.
That’s what happened to me, and I tell you with all honesty that I am just now learning how NOT to be defined by my past.
I will be thirty-seven this year, thirty plus years since I dreamed those dreams as a little girl.
Some of my dreams are lost forever. I live with that every day.
Others have had to take a different form.
And that’s why I write. To teach. To tell.
Remember the dreams of your childhood. They were put there for a reason.
Chase them. Pursue them.
Run after YOU. Run after the Spirit inside you, the Spirit that belongs to the One who created you.
I truly believe if you follow my advice, you WILL find success.
Don’t worry about what success means to someone else.
Discover and work towards the success YOU define.
And don’t take your eyes off the horizon.
Because the future is looking brighter every day, sweet graduate.
And it’s yours for the taking.