I received a text message last night from my younger sister. I would say little, but she’s 4 inches taller, and at some point you have to let little girls grow up. It’s hard to admit that my younger sister is no longer a brace faced, lanky, curly headed child. She’s an adult. She’s graduated from college, and has now joined the ranks of the thousands of 20 somethings that are struggling with the season of supreme let down at the end of their higher education.
Her text simply said: “Why do I feel so lost in life?”
This one question sparked a trip down memory lane for me. Bringing me face to face with the ghosts of lessons learned. Of seasons that have come and gone and how through each of these seasons I have felt that nagging sense of limbo. That somehow with every step I can’t escape that very thought, “Why do I feel so lost in life?”
This was the consolation that I gave:
“Because you’re 23. It’s the season of life you’re in. Unfortunately after college it’s harder than one would think figuring life out. All you’ve ever known changes in a blink. But you’re going to be OK. You’ll learn and grow and look back and think, “Wow, who was that girl?” But you’re on the right track, sweet girl. You have a strong sense of faith, and you have me here to cheer you on and give you the advice I can from my soon ending 20’s.”
That’s when I thought, “What advice can I really give?” But as that thought crossed my mind I was so aware of the truth of what I had just said. There were so many things that I had learned from 22 to 29. And as I heard once from my favorite motivational speaker, Dr. Dale Henry, “Life is a series of roller coaster rides. So once you finish one and get on another make sure you pass on what you learned from the ride before to the person behind you.” Paraphrased, but I want to give credit where credit is due.
So here is what I have learned from past roller coaster rides:
1. You are never truly alone, you only let your mind make you think that you are. Whatever you are walking through, this too shall pass.
2. Your friends determine your future so choose wisely.
3. Always make your character your top priority because it will take you places your education never can.
4. No one has life figured out. Most 30 year olds are no closer to knowing their purpose in life, than fresh faced graduates.
5. Be willing to work your way up, your parents had to earn what they have, and it took them 15-30 years, so don’t expect everything they have as soon as you graduate.
6. Comparison will always steal your happiness
7. You are the decision maker for your future not others. So make the best decisions that you can and forget what everyone else is doing around you. If you’re being a responsible self sustaining adult, you don’t have to be making six figures.
8. Which leads to: no amount of money is worth your happiness.
9. Don’t ever settle in your love life. EVER. Even your worst “single” days are going to be better than your best “relationship” days with the wrong person.
10. You are never a failure unless you give up completely.
11. Figure out who you truly are and be the best you, you can be. There’s no greater happiness than living the way you were created to be. Society’s opinion doesn’t matter.
12. You’re not the only one who feels lost. Most people do. Some people are just better actors.
13. Be nice to everyone. No matter their color, race, or creed. No matter how they look, smell, dress, talk, you never know who they may become. Not to mention doing unto others as you would have done to you is the golden rule.
14. If one way isn’t working try another. If you always do what you’ve always done than you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. And then you’ll go insane.
15. Never say, “It’s not my job.”
16. Your attitude can change everything. Your mind is what controls your level of happiness. It’s been said a thousand ways, but I’ll say it this way stop looking at the rain, and start looking for the rainbow.
17. Which means: Anything can happen, at any time.
18. Live for today. If you are breathing you still have purpose.
19. There are only two fears you are born with: the fear of loud noises, and the fear of falling. So identify the other fears that you are letting dictate your life, and unlearn them. Fear is the chain that is holding you down.
20. Tell the ones you love, that you love them. If you have something positive and encouraging to say, say it. And if you can’t think of anything to say, than just smile. You could be changing, or even saving, someone’s life.
I could go on and on with all the things that I have learned since college. But as a closing I will say this. A piece of paper doesn’t define you. You’re choices do. Every decision that you make is a building block for your future. So just know that this season after college is a time to focus on becoming the best you that you can be, so that once you have traversed another 5 or 10 years no matter how much money you have, or how much debt, you can still look at yourself in the mirror and want to be that person’s friend, lover, employer.