From Erin Davis to The General’s eldest son, Campbell – now officially in Grade 9.
If there is a message I’d try to get through to you today, as you feel butterflies the size of pelicans, it would be this: you’ll feel, at times, as though these days and years are the most important of your life. But, unless you do a spectacular job of screwing them up and come out with a police record, you’ll get through. The queens and kings of prom, sports and cafeteria are – quite possibly – peaking in their teens. Your time will come too – and it’s much sweeter later than sooner.
If you can get through these next four years with your dignity and self-respect intact, if you can manage to keep an open mind along with those open books and know that, even if you don’t think you’ll use this “stuff” in years to come, then one day you’ll actually be glad you know why Archimedes got excited in the bathtub and who Iago is when his name’s invoked in reference to a backstabbing confidante. I promise you will.
Try to make memories but not mistakes, and if you do happen to trip and fall, turn it into a lesson. On some days, there are often more things learned outside of a classroom than inside it.
Although for most, the emphasis will be on fitting in – remember that later in life, it’s the ones who stand out who truly make their mark in the world. Not everyone is going to like you. That’s a lesson better learned sooner than later and, although you won’t understand why, you have to accept that it’s just the way it is. Don’t waste your energy trying to be someone’s chocolate if they clearly prefer strawberry. You have no control over how other people feel – even about you – no matter how unfair it is. As Don Miguel Ruiz writes in The Four Agreements, it’s their movie. Sometimes we are barely even extras.
Ask questions. It is far worse to feel stupid later because you didn’t, than to fear looking stupid because you did. If you don’t understand, there’s a very good chance that you’re not alone. Not every teacher is exceptional and one you’ll remember the rest of your life; some will need a little help to get their lessons and messages across. Sometimes that help may come from you.
Try to be compassionate when it comes to your teachers; they’re mothers and fathers, partners, sons and daughters and they have bad days, Mondays, PMS, hangovers and hang-ups just like the people you live with or know and love. Cut them some slack and remember: they are human beings. Treat them as you’d want your mom to be treated, if teaching was her vocation.
Treat everyone as you want to be treated – from teachers and custodians, to bus drivers and other kids in the hall. Choose carefully which people you let in and don’t let into your life. Just as you don’t have to be loved by everyone, nor do you have to confide in anyone. As in the grown-up world, there are Iagos galore. As my grandmother said, “Love many, trust few and always paddle your own canoe.”
I don’t know if Gram even went to high school, and that’s probably wisdom she acquired long after those teen years came and went. But it holds as true today as it would have nearly a century ago.
Just know that no matter how your days and years ahead go, remember: for better or worse, This, Too, Shall Pass.
And with the right amount of studying – so, hopefully, will you. Good luck, Campbell.
(@CHFIErin on Twitter)
Courtesy of ErinDavis.com