Advice for the Class of 2023

It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since I graduated from Canyon High School. Trust me it goes by fast. In honor of this milestone I figured I would reflect on the things I have learned over the years.

This is my advice to the class of 2023.

Learn from everything – This seems silly to say after you have spent the last 13 years learning in the classroom, but that’s not what I mean. I mean take chances. Take the elective class that has nothing to do with your major. Take the job you’re overqualified for, apply for the job where you may feel slightly underqualified. Learn from watching people. But if you’re anything like me, learn by doing things yourself. Don’t be afraid of YouTube University, where there is a how to video on any topic you can imagine.

Find hobbies – Do things that make you happy and take time for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in life with what you’re doing that you forget to make time for yourself. Figure out if you might love art or golf, maybe even puzzles. Decide if you like reading when it’s not an assignment. Find adventure in geocaching or hiking. Maybe do the couch to 5K and start signing up for marathons. Do something, anything that excites you.

Be patient – Life is not always fair. Things won’t go the way you planned. In the teacher world we say “monitor and adjust” but really all it means is recognize that it didn’t go your way and find a new plan. You will have to deal with difficult situations, some that will be completely out of your control. Maybe it’s not getting your dream job after working four years to get your degree. Maybe it’s figuring out that your mom made cooking look so easy but it just doesn’t taste the same. What I can tell you is to be patient. It gets better. Don’t give up. Don’t look at it as failure, you just figured out what doesn’t work.

Use a calendar – Do this on your phone or buy a calendar, this is honestly the biggest game changer. Whether it’s keeping up with your assignments or work schedule, this is an important life skill. When you get your syllabus write all the due dates in your calendar. Anything that matters to you, write it down. Maybe it’s a family member’s or friend’s birthday so you will have a reminder to call, text or social media shout out. Maybe it’s payday and visually recognizing how many days you have to stretch that $100.

Make friends – Find your people. Maybe it’s the people you work with or work with on a group project. Maybe it’s people in a club or fraternity. Maybe it’s your neighbor or the people who sit in the same section as you in church. You’ll need people to share in your ups and downs. You’ll need an inner circle of friends that is going through similar stages in life. You need people who have been where you are and can give you advice. And then you need to realize that some people will come into your life and stay there forever and some people are only there for a season.

Make memories – Life is short. You only live once, YOLO! But really, time is something that we often sacrifice because it seems unlimited until it doesn’t. It’s easy to get caught up in studying so much that you look back at college and realize you spent all of your time studying and no time at a ball game or a concert. It’s easy to set a routine of home, then work, then home, then back to work. So take the trip. Be ok with making a B in the class if it means you took road trips with your best friends. Don’t get me wrong, a strong work ethic is important but so are the memories. The greatest balance game of your 20s will be finding the balance between work hard and play hard.

Be kind – Some of you may think this is common sense but for lots of people it’s not common practice. With everything going on in the world, now is a perfect time to show kindness. People won’t have the same beliefs as you, learn to be ok with that. You don’t have to change their mind and they don’t have to change yours. Remember that not everyone gets from point A to point B by taking the same route. There is a lot in life we can’t control but we can control how kind we are to people. We’re human, so we’ll make mistakes and it’s ok to apologize.

Stay in contact – Over the next few years you’ll make new friends, that will be a good thing. But don’t forget about your high school friends. Social media has made this a lot easier but social media isn’t a true reflection of how people are doing so check on your friends. Pay attention to the things people won’t say. And when life is hard for you, don’t be afraid to let people know and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Don’t be scared – Don’t be scared of the next chapter in your life. Don’t live in fear of all the things that could go wrong. Life is pretty great when you learn to navigate it at your own speed. Whatever you do, don’t compare yourself to others and where they are in life. Chase after your dreams and live your best life.

Congrats to the Class of 2023!