By Lee Williams (@Lee_Wms)
Dear younger self,
It’s me—well, YOU—from several years in your future. Hard to believe, right? I know you probably have many questions for how this is even possible, but just hear me out. In the end, I promise that it will be worth it.
As a soon-to-be college graduate, I’m really proud of your energy, resolve, and confidence. However, at this moment in time you possess a special kind of stubbornness. (You masquerade that very well.) Right now no one can tell you much in regards to advice. Don’t get me wrong, your silent disregard will see you through challenging times in the coming years. But life could be so much easier if you heed wisdom.
You see the world as a path already charted, and that is very far from the truth.
With graduation season in full effect, you are still considering minor things with too broad of a focus. I’d like to share some major lessons that I’ve learned along my journey that could save you money, resources, and most importantly, time.
1. Pursue what interests you. Don’t flock to majors or industries just to make big money. You’ll only be running towards quicksand; life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate or to waste your talents.
2. Get involved in the community. Give more of your time, regularly. This can truly make a difference in the lives of others, and your own. Humility is great for the soul.
3. Be patient in everything. Rush nothing, not in relationships, finances, or enhancing your present situation…no matter what. Everything will come in due time. Don’t stress yourself on attaining the unattainable. It might not be for you.
4. Listen more and talk less. You don’t realize it, but you are a big talker. There is an art to listening and few people possess it skillfully. Practice being an active listener. You’ll be amazed by how much you can learn.
5. Be wise with every dollar that you make. If you can’t pay for it in cash, then don’t buy it. Protect your credit. Save your money intelligently and beyond just a savings account—you’ll need the extra cash in graduate school, during your one-year hunt for a professional job, and in developing seed money for long-term investments.
6. Stand up for yourself, always. You will live to regret anytime you didn’t speak up for what was important to you.
7. Never forget your foundation. For you, this means putting God first in everything. There will come a time that you feel you don’t need your faith, but ignore this thought and govern your life with unchangeable truths.
8. Know your worth. Society will tell you that you aren’t good enough and people along the way will take advantage of your kindness, ultimately making you question if being genuine is worth the hassle. Don’t let this happen. Your value is priceless.
9. Listen to your parents. Their advice can save you much stress and they’re almost always right.
10. Do something you love, then it won’t be work. But don’t stop there. Take your hobby to the next level by doing it as much as possible, even if it’s just a few minutes each day. This will be therapeutic on your most hectic days.
11. Maintain your open-mindedness. The day you close yourself off from something is the day you relent to mental stagnation or ignorance.
12. Compare yourself to no one. Never allow another person’s personal experience distract you from your path. You have a unique vision. Pursue it.
13. Find a mentor. Prepare well for your interactions and adopt their characteristics of success.
14. Be a mentor. Breathe life into another young person who is searching for their own way. You may be young but you have more to teach than you know.
15. Embrace mental toughness. Tenacity is something that you’ll learn through your challenges, but you don’t have to wait until disaster strikes. It’s amazing how easy it is to succeed if you learn how to show up mentally and physically for every task.
16. Choose your inner circle wisely. Opt for people who can positively contribute to your heart and spirit, not just who is available during the fun times. You will become what you surround yourself with.
17. Begin interning early. You’ll miss out on several job opportunities all because you lack experience in a few areas. Knowing this early, learn as much as you can about your chosen field and don’t shy away from picking up any new skills. Though you will work your way through college in order to make ends meet, money will come and go. Experience is an investment in your career.
18. Hard work of any kind has value. It will teach you discipline, refine your dedication, and strengthen determination. If you can master these characteristics, then you will compensate for your lack of talent or experience in anything.
19. Pay information forward. Navigating post-graduate life is hard, and useful information is wasted if it isn’t shared. Whenever you see an opportunity to help someone else’s journey, take it. Don’t be a knowledge hoarder.
20. Lastly…don’t get disappointed because you’re not “there” yet. I’ll clue you in on a secret: nobody else knows what they’re doing either. The most driven people that you know in this time of your life are actually lost like you as well. We are all human and have second thoughts and doubts every single day. Remember, there is no perfect way to navigate adulthood. Sometimes you will have to take the back door instead of the front, face rejection in order to improve, and to run right through the brick walls of life.
Learn these lessons. Embrace them. Live them.
Your future self