AKA: An Open Letter to My Seniors
Dear Me As A High School Senior,
There are a lot of lessons I have learned in the 21 years since I graduated high school. Some of them were fun. Many of them were not. I’ve made a list to make it easier for you.
- Debt is crappy. Pretty much all of it is. First there were the credit card tables that they set up at college student centers every fall. “Sign up for a card! Of course you’ll only use it for emergencies! Here’s a tshirt!”. But I didn’t use it for emergencies. If I wanted a candy bar, I went to the bookstore, bought something ELSE with the candy so I could justify the card usage. So stupid. And then later, when I was working, I put everything on the card and then sometimes I didn’t pay it back. That’s how I found myself hyperventilating over $20,000 in credit card debt in my twenties. And I paid it off. Every. Last. Dime. It was hard. I wasn’t making that much money and almost $600 was coming out every month to pay that down. So you think I would learn, right?
Well, I didn’t use another credit card. I used student loans! When I got my second degree I had to take out some loans. And they were sort of manageable. But then I got my masters. And I got divorced. And I ended up taking out more money than I needed on my masters loans just so I could adjust to one income. So now, guess what? That’s right. Student loans. They don’t disappear. They can’t be discharged with bankruptcy. So, student loans are okay to have, but don’t get extras. And watch the credit cards. Money problems are icky.
- True friends will give you hell.When I was going through a dark period of my life, I had friends who told me things I did NOT want to hear. I avoided them sometimes so that I could live in my little bubble. I even lost an old friend for awhile. Real friends tell it like it is. They were waiting for me when I got out of my darkness. That’s also true friends. Always tell your friends the truth. Harsh truth, if necessary, will still be edible when wrapped in love. If you see a friend doing something wrong, tell them. If you see a friend who is hurting themselves, tell them. If you have to, go above them and get help. They may hate you. It will pass. An estranged friend is better than a dead friend.
- You will get hurt.This is a hard one to tell you. You will get hurt. You will get hurt so bad and by people who are supposed to be the guardians of your heart. You will curse the daytime for it’s harshness and dread the night for the mirror it puts in front of you. You will somehow have to go about your daily business while your heart literally aches in your chest. You will want to fall into self-destruction. You will have to keep going. The danger here is that you will want to close off your heart and never feel this pain again. Please don’t. After a while, you will notice that it doesn’t hurt so bad. You will find that you can laugh. You will recognize lessons that you learned from it. You may even find the answers WHY it happened. I mean, as in, the path of your life. Sara, you specifically will find that you had strayed from your life’s purpose and that this was the universe’s only way to rescue you. You will appreciate it and maybe come to a point where you are THANKFUL that it happened. Trust me.
- You will find out how much you are loved.You will get divorced and lose all your possessions and your home to a fire within 24 hours of each other. You will find people that you never met giving you money and clothes and whatnot. You will find students that you only had for a week before they got transferred out of your class giving you huge gift certficates. You will also see the magic of serendipity in these moments. But mostly, the universe will show you that you have value and that you. are. loved.
- You will learn to forget the haters.Seriously. high school behavior. You won’t care. Who cares if someone doesn’t like you and your humor, style, voice, presence? Forget them. As the great philosopher T.I. said, “You’ve gotta live your life. Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay.” Actually that was Rhianna but it’s way funnier the first way. And listen this whole cool/not cool thing [I’m looking at you Abercrombie and Fitch CEO] is so lame it’s not even worth going into. You like to play D&D and go to scifi conventions? FReakin’ have FUN! You’re super into __________<— insert whatever here it doesn’t matter just be happy and live your life.
- A sense of humor makes almost any man hotter.
- “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”There were many straightforward ways I could have listed this one but I think this quote says it all. You will maybe have setbacks in life and not be on your path. But once you get on the right path, once you find your element and What You Are Supposed To Be Doing, it will all come together and you will find the path opens up magically. Seriously, mighty, unseen forces will come to your aid. It will happen if you will it. Make it happen. Believe it will happen and go ahead and be grateful for the outcome you want. You will surprise yourself.
I know there are more things that I need to add to this. I’ll keep working on it, but I thought, dear, 18 year old me, that these were the most urgent matters to tell you about. You. Are. Awesome.