My first day of high school was a bit more intense than average, I think. Having transferred from a small Christian school, I was overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of public school. Piercings. Short skirts. Swear words. Talk of drugs and sex and all sorts of things I’d never been exposed to growing up. It was a lot to take in for a kid who had been with the same 40 friends from kindergarten through eighth grade.
So, last week, I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to a new advice book coming out by high school senior James Morrell. Epic Advice for Graduates: Top Ten Things Every High School Graduate Should Know (Aloha Publishing, May 2014) includes advice from individuals of all walks of life—including me—on ten things they wish they would have known or done back in high school, or advice they’d offer new high school graduates. Here’s my list:
- Know that, at any point in your life, you can make the decision to change. Academics, attitude, health, even success—anything can improve if you choose to aim for greatness.
- Never say, “I can’t.” Instead, ask yourself, “How can I learn to do that?” or “Who can I ask for help?”
Don’t be afraid to take risks and do things that push your limits. Some of the greatest rewards in life come from challenges that scare you.
- Take care of your body: eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and don’t get too stressed out.
- Avoid student loans at all cost. With debt, you start adulthood significantly behind.
- Know that life has already started. It’s doesn’t begin when you earn a high school or college diploma. Each choice you make contributes to who you are now and who you’ll be in the future.
- Stop trying to find the right guy or girl to date. Become a person worth dating, and you’ll attract someone who’s perfect for you.
- Keep in mind that the greatest moments of your life should always be ahead of you.
Travel! There is nothing that has such a profound impact as being exposed to new locales, experiences, and people. Travel also grows your heart.
- Know that you are no different from individuals who have achieved excellence. They are just ordinary people who chose to live extraordinary lives. You, too, can accomplish anything you wish. Truly.
You know, I don’t know what I could have done to get through to me back then. I was a rebellious, difficult-to-raise (thanks Mom and Dad!) teen a lot of the time. I had a total transformation my junior year of high school and kept growing into who I am now. I wonder sometimes what I’d be like if I hadn’t changed—what career I’d be in, what my family life would be like, who I would have married, whether I would have traveled.
But I can’t dwell on that, right? I can only think about the great people I’m lucky to surround myself with and the beautiful life I lead. My hope is that James’s book will help another kid reach a similar transformation.
What would you add? What life lessons would you pass on to high school graduates?
To preorder a copy of Epic Advice for Graduates, visit the Aloha Publishing site.