One month from today, my oldest kid will graduate from college back in the United States. It’s both an exciting and bittersweet time. I’m excited that my new adult will embark on a new life. However, I’m also saddened by this event because my once “little person” is all grown up and probably will need me a whole lot less.
After devoting 18-plus years to caring for this “little person” what do you now do with all of this extra time? Well, in my case, you keep on raising the youngest child waiting in the wings and you make soup.
Over the years and when the time came, always I’ve wondered what bits of advice I would proffer. It turns out that after talking to the said “kid” and college friends, what they really want to know are Life Hacks — how do you navigate your way through this thing called life? What do you do with that degree you’ve worked so hard to achieve? Do you continue on to graduate school? Do stop and travel? How do you balance your budget to allow for a night or two out per week while paying back your student loans? Finally, how do you really go after your dreams when you don’t know where to start and you’ve haven’t yet found the right mentor or role model to show you the way?
What’s my answer to do these pressing questions? Well, there really isn’t an absolute right or wrong answer, so all I can do is share what I’ve learned over the years. Each month, I’ll be tackling these questions and others in the Soup + Soul blog.
So today I thought I’d impart some gems of advice passed on to me by one of my college professors before I graduated. He said, “You know, it’s okay to feel ‘lost’ right now. If you’re between 20 and 25 and you DON’T feel lost, I’m concerned for you because this is a time of awesome discovery so don’t be afraid. Go out into the world and just do because this is where your real education begins.” He suggested that I read Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
If you don’t know these lessons they are these:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don’t hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life — learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. 15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup — they all die. So do we (so get on with your life).
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned — the biggest word of all — LOOK.”
I’ve always been grateful to that professor for recommending this book because it reminds us that what we need to succeed in life has already been ingrained in us from the time we still took afternoon naps and ate graham crackers and juice for mid-day snacks.
But if college kids need a little more advice about how to succeed in this thing called a “career” — especially if entrepreneurial in spirit, add these last five points I was reminded of while doing my walk, this morning, around the mini-track at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne:
- Visualize this finish line — there will be other races but this finish line is the only one that matters for now.
- Stay in your own lane — crossing into others only causes confusion.
- Run YOUR race as best you can — the only competition is YOU.
- Respect and support your fellow competitors — they’re on a journey too!
- Be kind to your body — it’s the only one you got so take time to cool down and relax.