The last month has been an absolute crazy one for Matt and I and one of the biggest reasons for this busyness was the celebrations of both of our youngest siblings graduating high school. It’s crazy to watch our youngest brothers (Micah – Matt’s brother and Michael – my brother) take the step into adulthood. They are each 7 years younger than we are and we remember the days they were born. Now they are off to college, leaving our parents as empty nesters. Graduation is such a pivotal time for one’s life. The years between 18 and 22(ish) will, more often than not, completely change everything you are used to and the world you once knew.
But that change and adjustment doesn’t stop at 22, does it? The learning curves and challenges continue with us for the rest of our lives. While we love to shower advice on new graduates, it is often the case that we are most in need of advice ourselves. I, for one, could not resist compiling a list of advice for my brothers, that was originally going to be stuck in a Facebook status but grew way too long for the character count allowed. And as I thought of these words that I will share with you and with them below, I couldn’t help but realize that I needed a lot of the words as much as I believed they did. So I’m going a slightly different direction this week with my Marriage Monday post. While the marriage words I will share with them may not exactly meet you in your current state, I hope that some of the other words will. While it is not my typical post directed at your marriage, I know that taking note of things in ourselves will immediately benefit our spouse and our marriage. So without further adue, my advice for all of the new (and old) graduates…
- You are never too young and you are never too old. Our culture will throw both of these at you no matter how old you are. “In order to do that you should have started training when you were 3! Good luck trying!” or “Just wait until you are my age. You don’t have any of the experience you need to do something like that.” These are just some of the things you have probably already heard in your lifetime. And while there may be some truth to needing to start young in order to be in something like the olympics or not being a CEO at age 19 because you do need a little bit more experience, you can truly do whatever you put your mind to. I’m currently watching my 55 year old father in awe as he trains for an Iron Man triathlon later this year. And I look at people like Mark Zuckerberg who created one of the world’s most well known websites when he was only in his young twenties. It is not impossible, and if you want it you can do it. Take the advice of others, but know that you are never to young or too old to make a difference and do something big (whatever “big” may look like to you).
- But be humble. You can do anything you want to, but humility is the only way you can truly get there and succeed. Put others before yourself. Be confident, but do not assume you are the best/brightest/etc. because most likely, you are not. And even if you are, you will earn respect from other’s by not acting as such. People will notice those being loud and arrogant, but they will choose to work with, honor, and listen to those who humbly show what they know.
- A setback is not a failure. You have probably grown up with people telling you the order life will go… graduate high school, go to college, get a great job, get married, have kids, and so on and so on. It may all happen in that exact order… but it may not. College may take longer than you expected because you change your major 3 different times. You might not get the perfect job out of college, you may need to work at a job that doesn’t require a college degree for a few years before you find something that works. You might not meet your future spouse until you are 25.. or 30… or 35… And kids may not come to you and your future spouse like you thought they would. I do not say these things to be depressing. You have a bright future ahead of you and God has the plans for your life already worked out. It is your job to go forth trusting Him and knowing that He will get you through it. But knowing that things might not go your way now will help you in those times later. Just because things go differently does not mean that God does not care or that you are a failure. It is just a setback for better plans He has for you ahead.
- Freedom is a privilege. We do not deserve it and we are so fortunate that by God’s grace we were given that gift. As you go to college and especially when you visit home, you may feel that you are entitled to the newfound freedom that you have. Be careful… a bad decision can cause those freedoms on this earth to be taken away very easily.
- Make friends… good friends. The friends that you meet now may be standing beside you on your wedding day. They may even be your bride/groom. But make good friends who make good choices. You’ve already heard this throughout high school, but it is even more pivotal in college. Ask many of the older adults around you and they can probably tell you a big mistake they made in their college years that they regret. More often than not, that mistake was not made alone. Those around you will lead you, whether you realize it or not, and it is important for you to find those that will lead you to the cross. Community is SO important so find it in the best possible places you can… Bible studies, Christian campus clubs, nearby churches, etc. You may think you are strong enough to resist things that come your way, but we were not made to live life alone. God create the church for a reason so take full advantage of it!
- Just say no to debt. Just recently student debt surpassed credit card debt. The majority of those around you are most likely taking out loans or paying them off. As a student, you are the biggest target for those who want your money. You will be asked to borrow money for college, for a car, for housing and books, and anything else you are wanting to buy. While it may be easy to think “I’ll pay it off, I’ll have a great job soon”, be careful. As I said in point 3, things don’t always go the way you think. And even if you do get that great job, other things come up. Being free from debt is one of the biggest blessings and allows you to go forward with the future without a load tied around your waist following you from behind. Live frugally, save, and turn down loan and credit options as much as possible. I promise it will be one of the best choices you will ever make.
- Love. The most important legacy you can leave in life is not one of straight A’s or a great job, it’s of loving those around you. One of my favorite quotes says: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Find someone everyday that you can love on and make a difference for. It may be someone sitting alone at lunch or in a class, or someone who just dropped their book and needs a hand picking it up. Live your college years and all those afterwards with an attitude of selflessness and it will not be just those around you that are blessed. You will receive blessings in return.
- Become the best husband/wife you can be. You are not married now, but one day you probably will be. Don’t wait until you find that special someone to be the person you want to be for them. Begin praying now for your marriage. Grow in your maturity and in your wisdom of what a godly husband and a godly wife looks like. You never know when God is going to put him/her in your life so choose now to be ready for the second (next to God) most important relationship you can ever have..
- Seek the Lord. I cannot emphasize this one enough. I cannot begin to explain His love for you because it is something I am still trying to take in myself. He is there for you for the smallest things… to go to when you are needing clarity with a test question or are making a scheduling decision… to the biggest things… where to work and who to marry. He is there for everything and cares about every detail. He already has the map of your future, so go to Him for direction. A very scary and large percentage of young adults are leaving their faith so make sure to go in knowing that you will stand firm. It is ok to really look at what you believe, but ask God to show you, don’t go it alone. He will reveal what you are needing to know.
- Remember your family. I have to put this one in there, especially for our brothers. Those two people who don’t know anything but somehow managed to raise you are there for a purpose. They love you and want what’s best for you. Seek their advice, involve them in what you are doing and call them just to tell them that you love them (not just for money). If you have older sisters and/or brothers, look to them and learn from their mistakes and from where they have succeeded. It was most likely not long ago that they walked through the same stage of life you are entering, so they can remember and help you when you have decisions to make. If you have younger siblings, set the example so they can one day seek you for the same. Your friends and acquaintances now are important, but they will never be there for you like family will. Keep those family relationships strong.
So there you have it. I could go on and on, but I will leave it at that. Go forward in life knowing that you are loved, that you are worthy, that God cares about you, and that you can do anything with Christ. That goes for you high school graduates, for you college graduates, for you parents and the grandparents too. God has a plan for your life at 18 and at 118. Trust in Him and walk the path He has for you.
Do you have any words of advice you would like to add? Can you relate to anything above from
the past or in the present? Comment and tell me about it!
Congratulations, Michael and Micah! We love you both so much and are beyond proud of you. We can’t wait to see how God uses your life for His kingdom. – Erin and Matt