This is it. You’re officially an adult now. I know, it was sudden. And it won’t be easy at first. But, you’ll be just fine. In fact, you’ll be better than fine. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.
Since I’m so wise, I want to offer you a little advice here. I know you won’t believe some of what I have to say. And that’s okay. I don’t expect you to, but just hear me out. Here is what I’d like you to know…
To my college self
You have choices. Nothing in life is black and white. When you don’t know what to do, don’t assume you have to take the same course everyone else does. And you don’t have to take the path that everyone tells you that you “should” take.
Sometimes taking a different route in life is uncomfortable. But, you know what? That’s when you should really pay attention. Sometimes doing those things that are uncomfortable is exactly what you need to learn and grow.
Don’t be closed off to new relationships. I know you are serious about getting your degree and maintaining a high GPA. But, knowing you, you won’t let the grades suffer, no matter what.
You are going into college adamant not to let anything interfere with all of this. In fact, you’ve went so far as to make a pact with yourself not to get distracted by anything, including relationships.
Don’t let that mindset dictate your path. You will meet so many great people and it’s okay to let them into your life. Yes, some will disappoint you, but many of them will be there for you through thick and thin.
One of them, in particular, will stick with you for life. Even though you didn’t go into college with any intention of having a relationship, it’s going to happen. Don’t let your fear stop you from following your heart. Trust me when I say, he’s the real thing and you will never regret it.
Continue working. Sometimes that work-study job is thankless. It’s hard to get up at 7 am and go to work after a late night. It’s tough to never even lay eyes on a paycheck you earned.
But you will thank yourself later for continuing to work throughout college. Yes, all of the money you earn goes directly to your tuition, but that will allow you to graduate with much less debt. Even though it doesn’t seem like much now, it all adds up to thousands saved.
Don’t be afraid to take risks. As much as you may deny it, you are very conservative with the risks you are willing to take. But, here’s the thing…life is full of risks. And most things you consider risky aren’t really that risky at all.
When something makes you uncomfortable and you are willing to go to extremes to avoid it, stop for a moment. Try this: Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” And, no, death isn’t likely. Be realistic. I can almost guarantee you, most of the time you’ll be super happy you took those risks. Doing those uncomfortable things will change your life in ways you never knew possible.
Think long and hard before attending grad school. Don’t be afraid of adulting. College can become this protective barrier between you and the real world. I understand you love to learn and your earning potential may be higher with a grad degree. But you can’t be a career student, even if you’d like to.
Maybe you could try working for a year to see what you really want to do. Take your time. One or two years out of college to work may be just the thing to help you make this decision. At that point, if you do decide to go back to grad school, you will be better able to handle the financial impacts. You will have earned income and more time to look for scholarships to lower or refinance student loan debt. Heck, you could even work and go to college part-time to hedge the costs. Remember, you have choices.
Don’t let important relationships be forgotten. You’ll make some really great friends. Don’t let them just slip into your past. Keep in touch, even after life has changed.
Your mentor will become an important part of your life. He’ll become a friend, a father figure, and a trusted confidant that always has your best interests at heart. You will come to rely on him and you will miss him dearly when you grow apart. And this is okay. In fact, it’s normal. But he touched your life in an indescribable way – the best way to thank him is to say “hello” now and then.
Continue to live like a student, even when you have a steady income. It will be really weird to receive a paycheck on a regular basis. It’s tempting to take that new freedom and enjoy it to the max. Be careful. This will get you into debt and that debt can affect your future freedom.
Keep lifestyle inflation in check. If you have to drive an older, used car, that’s okay. A new car doesn’t mean you’ve “made it”, it simply means you have to work longer and harder to make the payment.
There is no reason to buy a house right away. A house is not a good investment at this point in your life. Continue to rent until you know where you want to live and can actually afford a down payment.
I know you won’t follow all of my advice. And I know you’ll make mistakes. And that’s okay. No regrets. Mistakes are the best teachers. Your mistakes will help you learn and grow in wonderful ways. Trust me when I tell you your life is going to be amazing!