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Take the Roads Less Traveled

Editorial | May 19th, 2021

By Sabrina Hornung

sabrina@hpr1.com

Photo by Sabrina Hornung

20 May 2021

Our Opinion: Don’t be afraid to ask for directions.

This is the time of year when most editors offer up their best advice to the most recent graduating classes, so here are a few words of wisdom from one of the last people who should be doling out advice.

But to be fair, life really is one big lesson learned by trial and error -- so let that be your first lesson on the path to adulthood.

Dear Class of 2021,

The best thing you can do right now is meet everyone you can. Go to every art opening, all the shows and all of the house parties. Meet as many people as you can and collect as many experiences and perspectives as you can muster. Get out of your comfort zone! Adulthood is much bigger than high school hallways.

Talk to strangers, but be sure to listen because you might learn something.

Everyone has a story and by acknowledging that, you might just make someone’s day. Ask questions wherever you go and don’t be afraid to ask for directions. Take the roads less traveled but be safe, stay on your toes and don’t lose sight of your path.

Travel and read as much as possible.

One of the most valuable things you can gain in life is perspective. Have respectful conversations with folks who share varying viewpoints. For one thing, it’s boring to keep having the same conversation and two, they may bring up a point you’ve never considered. Three, facts from these conversations may serve as ammo for a later debate they’re correct. ALWAYS check your sources and make sure that they are reliable sources.

Keep a survival kit in your car (if you have one). The traditional kit includes jumper cables and a snowsuit, the unconventional variety a change of clothes, swimwear, and a good pair of boots, or at least some kind of footwear that’s made for walking. Cocktail attire is optional, sunscreen is not optional.

The one piece of advice I wished I’d have listened to was to wear sensible shoes. Your feet will thank you, especially as you look 40 in the eye, and that’s sooner than you think.

It’s okay not to go to college right away or ever. If you go to school it’s okay to not know what you’re doing right away, and to change majors. You don’t have to figure out what you’re going to do with the rest of your life in a matter of months. If you go to school and you’re questioning it, let yourself take a break; and if that break turns into not going back, that’s okay too. Not all lessons are learned in a classroom.

Also, to make it awkward, if your social life becomes “ intimately social,” be sure to get tested and be sure to be safe. There’s no shame in self preservation. County health offices and campus medical centers are our friends. If you don’t have insurance, some of these places are based on your income. If you ‘re on your parents’ plan, don’t take it for granted. Unfortunately, insurance is a luxury many of us can’t afford.

Be kind. Go out of your way to be kind and remember you can always catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I’m pretty sure that the secret to life is “don’t be a jerk.” Profound? Maybe not so much, but in the original draft the last statement was much more vulgar.

Don’t waste your youth trying to chase down a mate, you have your whole life to find that someone. Don’t waste the bulk of your youth crying over someone who wasn’t worth the salt of your tears. It’s a hard lesson to learn but you’ll appreciate it once you get there. Being single isn’t negative, like mainstream society tries to impress upon the masses. Sure, you might not always have a date but that’s what friends are for.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, because you are the only person you know you can count on. If we’re going to talk about love, learn to love yourself and the rest might fall into place.

Surround yourself with a positive support system and remember, there will always be good days and there will always be bad days and there are more people who love you and who are rooting for you than you might think. 

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