High school graduation is a crossing of a threshold. A demarcation of sorts from childhood to adulthood, from high school to college, from the past to the future.
That future starts now for thousands on the Peninsula who have toiled for 12 years, 13 if you count kindergarten, to reach this measure of accomplishment. Most will go to college, some will enter the workforce. Some will take gap years. Others, albeit a small handful, are still unclear.
Here’s my advice:
• Listen to old people (like me) who have been around. They know things. You don’t have to agree, but at least listen to their point of view.
• Recognize that there are people with different points of view than you. And that doesn’t make them dumb, or evil, just different. You may have preconceived notions that should be dispelled.
• Think about the economics of an issue. Oftentimes, things touted as a benefit one way actually provide an economic benefit to someone. Think about who might benefit.
• Correspond with others in letter form. It doesn’t have to be actual letters (I’m not insane), but keep in touch with people using complete thoughts and sentences. It’s good practice to understand what it is you are feeling and to convey it thoughtfully.
• Learn some basic recipes from people in your family. While it’s easy to send out for food, or look up how to make something on the internet, there is something about a recipe from home. It will comfort you and connect you to others who love you. And it helps carry on your family traditions.
• Don’t take 8 a.m. or Friday classes. You think you can do it, but you really don’t want to.
• Always think of a backup plan.
• Recognize that not everyone will like you, and that’s OK.
• Carry a notebook for random thoughts, lists and new vocabulary words. Life is about learning.
• Pay your bills on time. You don’t want to rebuild your credit.
• Vote in every election, but only vote for things or people on which you’ve done sufficient research. You don’t have to vote on everything on the ballot every time.
• Treat with respect service workers, secretaries, restaurant servers and retail workers.
• Dress appropriately for the occasion. Dress up for a job interview. Buy at least one simple dress outfit, preferably black. You can wear it to funerals.
• Send thank you notes.
• Don’t jump to conclusions. Be open-minded.
• Start a retirement account and place a portion of your income in it regularly. There is not a “too small” amount to invest in the stock market. Invest. When investing, remember that cash is a position.
• Be kind to strangers. Offer assistance. Smile at people. Thank them when appropriate.
• Put a first-aid kit in your car, along with a sweatshirt, an extra pair of sneakers and jumper cables. If you don’t have a car, think about what small items might be helpful during an emergency and put them in a bag you carry.
• Be aware of your surroundings.
• Be aware of your social media presence and how it might be perceived.
• Be aware that some people are too civilized to let you know what they really think.
• Be mindful of other people’s time.
• Keep in touch with friends, even if it’s a quick note.
• Learn how to use tools. Be aware of how things work. You never know when you may have to try and fix it.
• Take walks without electronic devices.
• Don’t drink or do drugs to excess. If you do, don’t make it a habit. Habits can turn into addictions.
• Don’t text and drive. In fact, put your phone away.
• Find something worth working toward, then work toward it. It’s helpful to make a list of short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.
• It’s OK to give up sometimes.
• Spell words correctly.
• Not every relationship is worth keeping. Stay away from unnecessary drama.
• Exercise. Go to bed early. Be mindful of your physical health.
• Money is nice, but it’s not the only thing.
• Be yourself. Be good to yourself. Be good to others.
Jon Mays is the editor in chief of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmays.