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open senior letter [REPOST]

2009-06-27
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***MY FIRST REPOST*** Originally posted on 5/17, but reposted in honor of Kristin & Gisha’s graduation and the end of the grad season.  Congratulations Class of ’09. 

This is a big year for part of the Aleyamma family, where one cousin is graduating from almost every family.  Here is some small tidbits of advice from your big sis  Readers (if anyone is still out there) please comment with any other things you wish you knew, way back when…

Dearest Jane, Stephanie & Kristin (and to those that came before and will come after),

  1. Here are some things I wish I knew when I was your age (yeah, yeah, I’m old, I know it…), some things I’ve done, some things I wish I did, and some things I’ve seen in successful people.
  1. GPA’s go down, not up.  You get to start with a clean slate in college.  Pick up a calculator and do the math.  If you start with a 3, it’s way harder to go up, than it is to maintain a 3.5 or 4.0.  Not all of us are scholars, but do what you can to keep that GPA up. 
  2. College costs money and the professors don’t care whether you do well or not, if you fail, you have to take the course again and pay more money, which means they will always have a job.  This is not like high school where they give you warnings, and call your parents if you cut class or miss homework.  Here it’s up to you—if you fail, it’s on you, if you ace it, it’s on you.
  3. Credit cards are from the devil.  They are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things that the prince of darkness has sent to make your adult life a living hell.  Don’t use them if possible, and if you MUST, then PAY THE BILL IN FULLLLLLLLLLLLLLL EVERY MONTH!
  4. Take care of your mind & emotions.  Change is always hard and you’re usually going through it when you’re young– that’s a good thing.  But if you ever feel overwhelmed, depressed, sad, down for a while, don’t hesitate to get help.  There’s nothing wrong with having a good counselor who you can talk to and help you work through things.  Depression is way too common a thing that is minimized and should be taken care of before it becomes serious.
  5. Don’t get into an unhealthy relationship.  You know I had to go here.  You don’t need to change for anyone.   Don’t let anyone tell you how to be, change your thinking, change your friends, change your spirit.  You are enough, you are awesome, and you will find good people who recognize that in you, and help you to become better and better.  No friends or crush/boyfriend/friend with benefit/husband should change that about you.  Especially watch out for people that try to isolate you from friends or family– they are bad news.
  6. Have good friends.  See above.  It’s really true what they say about being known by the company you keep.  College is a new opportunity to make good friends.  Pick people who have the right priorities about school, God, family, etc.  You will keep many of these friends for life.  You want to be proud of them and you want to make them proud.  They are going to be there for you when your family isn’t.  They’re going to pick up the pieces, and they’re going to keep you motivated. 
  7. Make adult decisions about God.  You might be dorming, you might be staying home– whatever.  It’s time that you decide who God is in your life.  No more playing “follow the leader.”  Do you care about eternity?  Do you wonder about God?  If you haven’t already found your answer, start looking.  Life is short, and if you die, I want to know that you know the way, the truth and the LIFE.
  8. It only takes a minute to become “that person.”  It only takes a minute for your reputation to change.  Don’t let some stupid thing define who you are.  Be careful of how you portray yourself and the decisions you make.  Don’t be the person that your college classmates remember as the one who got drunk and got picked up by the police for peeing in a cup in the middle of the street, or that girl who always wore those clothes, or the person who never had something nice to say about someone else. 
  9. Always let someone know where you really are.  Let’s just cut to the chase… yes, we’ve all had to study at the “library” until 2 am (or for the more innovative cousins, “I have overnight lab in New York City all weekend… it’s a special program.).  No comment about any of that.  But the reality is that crazy things happen in crazy ways, so no matter where you are, let someone know and have a fallback plan (not the same as #9).  Bring extra money for a cab, have the person you can call who will pass no judgment, have an easy way for your parents to get in touch with you in case of an emergency.
  10. Have a plan.  Despite what our parents say (and probably what I’ll tell my kids), it’s okay to explore and figure out what you like.  Just because you figured out in kindergarten that the only way you were going to get your parents love is by becoming a doctor, doesn’t mean that you don’t have the right to change your mind.  But the people I’ve seen succeed, are the ones who have goals.  Create goals, have a plan and then go after it.  It’s tough to live life with tons of “I should’ve.”
  11. You are supported and loved.  Although this was written with the assumption that you’re all going to college and possibly become highly skilled professionals who are famous in your fields, please know that no matter what, you are loved, you are supported, and you all have something to offer the world, no matter how untraditional.

Addendum for JC & Princeton

  1. When I think about our generation’s accomplishments in the context of our family history, I am awed.  Many of our grandparents barely made it to high school.  Our parents made it out of the mountains.  They sacrificed blood, sweat and tears, and you’ve sacrificed the same.  Congratulations!
  2. There’s more to go.  Pace yourself.  Don’t sprint.  You’ve still got a long way to go and work accordingly.  If you are in a rush to get to the end, you’re not going to enjoy the journey and learn along the way.  As a wise person once said, “don’t be in a hurry to grow up—it will happen when you least expect it.”
  3. God comes first.  If you think of God often, He will keep showing himself in ways.  Don’t let life assault you and rob you of the relationship you deserve with God.  Fight back. 
  4. Never forget the Oxygen Mask Rule.  If you are not okay, you cannot take care of others.  Take care of your health, your emotions, your relationships, yourself.  Go to the movies, get a massage, hang out with friends—do whatever it takes to stay sane. 
  5. The world is not like what our parents told us it would be.  It is ugly, brutal, and hard, but don’t forget: there is ALWAYS good to be found.  Search it out.  When it is the middle of the night and you think there’s no hope, you’re wrong.  Things will get better and you will get better as you become a part of it.

A special graduation wish to my dear Koche and her beloved Joelie, Sanji, and Mali. 

Love you, J.  I am so sorry I’m not there to see you walk across the stage, to take pictures, bring you flowers, or make a fuss like I do.  I can only say how proud I am of you.  You are a woman that I am proud to call sister and friend, and look forward to seeing the amazing things that are coming your way.  I love you. 

Prayerful thoughts go out the family of SMA.  Not forgotten.

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