Eat The Cake

Every year around this time I’m flooded with invitations to high school graduations and graduation parties. It always makes me sit back and reflect on my high school experience and how that played into my life over all.

This year I discovered I’ve been graduated for 18 years; ironically I have now been out of high school for as long as I spent trying to get out of it. When I graduated from high school I had no idea what my life would look like 18 years later but I’m more than certain I didn’t imagine it would look anything like it does.

I didn’t imagine that I’d be watching my oldest daughter about to take on her own high school experience. For crying out loud, daughters in general weren’t in the plans; and I’ve got two. I didn’t think I’d be less than a month shy of my 15th wedding anniversary or that the man I would marry would be someone I met my freshman year of college. I never thought Missouri would become my home; it was only supposed to be a 4 year stop. And my complete hatred of math and numbers would have never been able to convince me that I would have a career in an industry that requires me to crunch them everyday.

But ya know what, life happens.

As cliche as that phrase is, it’s one of the only things I know for certain. Lofe becomes a series of unexpected, unplanned events that somehow makes the journey an adventure. Sometimes the events in our life come from poor choices and turn out to be incredible blessings; other times those poor choices lead to more poor choices and you get stuck in a cycle that at some point you either have to live in or break free from. Sometimes you make all the right decisions and your life turns out perfect; and sometimes you make all the right decisions and your life turns out imperfectly chaotic. But the truth is, it doesn’t ever really turn out just how we imagined it when we switched our tassel from the right to the left side of our cap before we threw them in the air.

And you know what? That’s okay. Because at 17, 18, and 19 we don’t have to have it all figured out. (I’m almost 36 and most days I’m still trying to figure what I’m doing.) We don’t have to know what our lives will look like 18 years later; living in the moment every step of the way after you graduate is part of the thrill of the journey.

I don’t mean you shouldn’t make plans and set goals; I mean you should look forward to embracing the unexpected things that sometimes throw the plan off track; the things that make you rethink your future. That you should be open to finding out what you are passionate about and seeing where that passion takes you; because maybe it’s to Italy for a study abroad or an internship for a semester with the state capital. To be aware of things that present you with opportunities to grow and challenge yourself even if it wasn’t in the original plan. To stay flexible in your ideas of what your reality might look like and to be undeniably aware when life takes you someplace else. Because isn’t that what our life is about.

If I could leave you with any post high school advice it would be these few things:

  1. Remember where you came from; your roots are just as important as your wings.
  2. Dream big — bigger than you ever thought imaginable.
  3. Call your Mom. Or your Dad. Or whoever had a hand in getting you through high school. They can probably relate to whatever waive of emotions you might be experiencing; and also they probably miss you.
  4. Make mistakes; lots of them; but don’t live in them. They are meant to teach you lessons not to become your residence.
  5. If you get the opportunity to watch the sunrise at 5AM with your new college/non-high school best friend do it; you won’t regret the experience.
  6. Befriend the smart kid; and if your the smart kid then make friends with the person who struggles to get up and make their 8AM class. You will add value to each other’s life.
  7. Don’t forget the things you used to love doing. If you played HS soccer join the intramural team. If you loved going to church find one to attend, join a campus ministry, etc.
  8. Be adventurous. If your new friends invite you to do something new say yes, be open to trying something someone else loves. And in turn invite them to whatever you’re doing.
  9. Get involved in something you are passionate about; volunteer your time and energy on something that improves the lives of others in your community.
  10. Visit home and stay in touch with high school friends. Even if you’ve grown apart and changed over the course of your new adventure; they were their when you went through your awkward brace face stage and they are interested in hearing about your new journey.
  11. Fall in love. With people; with a class; with the late night study sessions that turn into early mornings; with the idea that you’re making memories; with the journey. Fall in love with yourself and the person you are becoming.
  12. Eat the cake. Because cake is good! I feel like this one doesn’t need clarification; it’s cake for goodness sake.

One of my favorite quotes is by John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”….and after 18 years of planning and then rearranging and adjusting because life happens I can honestly say I’m glad my life turned out differently then my 17 and 10 month self thought it would; because it’s been one hell of an adventure.

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