What a complex topic. There’s so much to be said about love. I could simply say, “Yes, you’re going to marry that high school sweetheart and live happily ever after.” But unfortunately, for some, that’s not the case. Realize that now before you make major life-altering decisions based around love. Life takes us down some crazy roads, and sometimes those roads are different for each of you. Nevertheless, what I can say about your high school love is it will stay with you forever. It will be a memory you will laugh and find peace about later. It will bring you this odd, humorous feeling of joy. Regardless how it ends, you will look back at it one day and feel grateful you were able to experience that kind of love early in life. Without noticing, it will shape you, teach you, and mature you. Puppy love, high school love- whatever you want to call it, its love. And love, no matter the outcome or severity, is something to be grateful for.
From experience, I feel like I also need to tell you that love will bring you great heartache. The outcome is not always in our favor. People will hurt you, lie to you, and betray you. That sounds cliché until you have to experience it. And it’s not just significant others, but all of those close to you. Family, friends, co-workers--- they’re human. That is what humans do. We fall short at times for numerous selfish reasons. Nevertheless, when you go through this agony, remember this--- forgiveness. It is one of the most important lessons you will learn in life. Especially in your 20’s.
I can honestly say the biggest lesson of my life thus far has been not only forgiving others, but also understanding exactly what forgiveness means. A few years ago, I actually wrote an entire article on forgiveness and my journey with it, and boy was it a journey. As a child, we were always forced to say, “I’m sorry” when we hit our friends, or refuse to share something. We would say those two words, and all would be well. And I believe subconsciously, we carried this into our adulthood. We hurt someone and think those two words end the conversation. But when you’re an adult, some acts of betrayal, require more than just two words to heal. They require soul searching, a few tears, and a lot of praying. It’s exhausting, but important. So important to forgive. Maya Angelo once said “you can't forgive without loving. And I don't mean sentimentality. I don't mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, 'I forgive. I'm finished with it.' Remember that. Love and forgiveness will always go hand in hand. You can’t do one without the other.
For many of you, you will be making some major decisions when you graduate. Where to go to college, what to major in, what job to take, etc. Then there is going to be those small decisions that could ultimately make big impacts later in life. Whatever you are choosing, choose what your heart tells you. Your head will lead you to the most reasonable choice, but your heart will lead you to the most meaningful and honest. Always choose your heart, that’s something you can protect.
Here’s just my lovely tips. Things I learned the hard way or just picked up along the way.
- Ladies, make sure you wear lip liner/lipstick to an interview. I don’t know why, but it just shows a certain maturity and elegance about you.
- Get off your phones. Seriously. These years are going to fly by and you will miss them if you are too concerned with what others are posting.
- Speaking of that, keep some things private. Not everyone needs to know everything. A private life is a happy life. Stop posting 24/7.
- Start reading. Like for real. I know you had to do it all through grade school, and now for college. But read. Write. Never stop educating yourself no matter how old you get.
- Take care of your skin. I know right now you are all 18, young and gorgeous, but as you get older, so does your skin. And it will catch up with you. So start while you are young. And wear the dang sunscreen.
- Be yourself. Who cares if they call you weird? I struggled with this in my teens because I always felt different, or older than others my age. I’m an “old soul” I guess you could say. But it’s better to be different than boring.
- Call home. No matter how old you get, or how far you move off. Call your parents. And not just when you need something, but sometimes just to say you love them. As you get older, you will realize just how much they did for you.
- Grad week. I could say a lot here, but I’ll keep it short. Do not be stupid.
- Start saving now. I know you just want to spend your hard-earned money on vapes and shoes, and whatever is trendy, but seriously, start saving. Life is expensive, period.
- Get a hobby. Learn to play an instrument. Start exercising. Whatever- find something that can quiet your soul and disconnect you from this chaotic world.
- Pray. About everything. About your grades, your family, your future- everything. It’s one of the best ways to connect with God. It will also give you peace.
- Lastly, find the good. In everything. The good in obstacles, in people, in life. You will become a lonely person if you don’t. The cup is always half full.
I hope in some way this helps you. Guides you for the next few years. Overall, be smart. Be happy. Be yourself. Moreover, welcome to adulthood.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.” – Mark Twain
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