When I was 17, I was intense to say the least
(nothing’s changed on that front, if you’re wandering :-)).
But I was so intense, that I did not drink coffee at all throughout my four years of high school
(at least not religiously like I do these days).
How I managed to pull that off…
I honestly still don’t know.
I’ll also add, that not drinking coffee was not a conscious decision on my part. Starbucks had simply not entered my life during that point in time.
It’s a force to be reckoned with when you’ve got a laser-focused goal in sight.
My sister is 17 years old and in her senior year of high school (class of 2023—whoop whoop!).
We are also 10 years apart (something I don’t think my parents managed to plan, unless if nothing but to make me a lifelong baby sitter...which is the case for most older children with younger siblings :P).
But since this is a once in a lifetime occurrence-- graduating from high school that is--I decided to look back at my 17-year old self, to see if there would be any advice that I would give him in retrospect.
But more importantly now,
to my 17-year old
(&10 years younger than me)
1. Go ahead & get a job and start saving money. Nothing but saving.
I think there’s a balance needed when it comes to this advice when you’re 17.
And you should probably enjoy the teenage spoils of a paycheck every once in a while during your latter teen years.
However, if you’re fortunate enough to start working at 17 years old (depending on the circumstances, needs, and responsibilities of your life at that time), go ahead and stash 50% of that paycheck into a Savings account and don’t touch it.
Your 26 year old self will greatly appreciate that act of salvation at some point later in life.
2. If you are choosing to pursue a college career: Pick a college in line with the career goals you are actually wanting to achieve; not just because you think it looks cool to other people to see that you were actually able to get into a really good school.
The ego is so strong and ironclad at age 17, isn’t it?
And external validation is a drug that you’ll want to purge yourself from as soon as possible;
(it will lead you to make decisions not from the internal compass of who you are, but from who you think others want you and need you to be).
Being smart and being able to get into a good school isn’t necessarily enough to carry you through the next four years of your life.
Also, during the course of your 17-year old stint in the world, it may be wise to start shifting your mindset to the achievement of your college goals as opposed to your remaining high school goals.
Your college goals will probably change over the course of those 4 years, but go ahead and start trying to piece together some sort of vision for your career over those explorative years.
And choose a college in alignment with those goals. Yes, it sounds like extra homework to research the list of the best potential schools for your new educational home & future,
But take it from every human being over the age of 20:
it’s best not to squander 4 years of your life doing something not that’s in alignment with who you want to be in the world.
3. You have to know that you matter.
—you alone, simply as you are. Already & Now.—matter.
Your sense of self and how you see yourself in the world, matter.
Self-worth is a lesson that will come to you in a myriad of ways & circumstances over the course of your life. But here’s what I know about self worth.
-You will win.
-You will fail.
-People will judge you.
-People will like you.
-People will dislike you.
-People will love you.
-And many people, or some people, may or may not understand you.
But it is truly no one’s job at the end of the day to understand, accept, or love you for the whole of who you are.
You may find one, or two, or a few who are willing to partake in the wonder that you ultimately are.
But at the core of your self-worth and value:
Loving YOU is an inside job.
This may be one of the toughest lessons in life to get an “A” in, depending on the destined plan and events for your life that is to come.
But just knowing that you matter in this world, simply because you are alive and already here, and letting that be the fuel to gas your hopes and dreams up towards an expansive future, will help you win greater wins and reach greater joys in the years to come.
Happy Graduation Year Class of 2023!
I love you Eniya.