As we get close to the end of another school year, and with graduation looming, I am reminded of my time in high school 30 years ago. For me it was a train wreck and every day I thank my lucky stars that my mistakes weren’t immortalized on TikTok – but I digress. What I’m really here to do is give some advice and guidance to the new crop of young adults heading out into this uncertain world, advice I wish I would have gotten. To the Class of 2023, please read on… 

First and foremost: Don’t go out and get a tattoo. 100% of the time you will choose wrong and end up with what you thought was “Live, Laugh and Love” in Chinese only to find out in your 30s that you’ve got some tattoo guy’s idea of a joke on your thigh. If you think you need one, wait. The idea will come to you, and you won’t have to spend several hundred dollars covering up the gibberish on your leg. A side note – tattoos on your neck are not edgy and cool. They are 100% of the time dumb.

You will have your heart broken. It’s inevitable. The guy or girl that you thought was the end-all, be-all will turn into the wrong kind of paradise. If you are lucky, you’ll walk away and someday you’ll walk right into the arms of the person you are meant to be with. Be patient and treat broken hearts with sad love songs. In the meantime, if you are lonely, get a dog or cat. They’ll help you weed out the good guys from the bad guys in the future.

You are not fat. You think you’re fat now? Just wait. In your adult life you’ll be so much fatter, and you’ll look back at pictures of your high school self and wonder why you weren’t nicer to yourself. You are more than fat on your body. You are perfect.

I hope you paid attention in math class because you’ll be wanting to find out if 30% off these pants is a good deal. You’ll also use fractions and sometimes decimals but not so much of the algebra. Oh, and just wait until tax season. Pay someone to do them and learn what a deduction is. Be wary of credit cards and the offer of credit. Ask someone now how to build credit. The sooner you understand this, the better. 

Make friends with people older than you. They are a wealth of knowledge and are less self-conscious about all the things that young people get crippled by. They surprisingly cuss a lot and will always have your back when you are down. When it comes to friends, align yourself with people that improve who you are regardless of age, race or gender. Trust me, it will help you grow faster and make you more interesting.

You are going to have to fix stuff and if you can’t, you’ll have to call someone. The good news is there are professionals everywhere that can help. Don’t try to save a buck by having “so-and-so’s brother-in-law” fix it or else you’ll get a big lesson in regret. This especially matters when it comes to cars. 

Girls and boys, it is okay to say no. Practice saying it. Practice meaning it. You do you and remember, it’s none of your business what someone else thinks of you. This advice is especially useful when you tell people no.

Never miss an opportunity to learn something new. Meet new people. Try new food. Remain open to the Universe. Take several trips and live in different places. You don’t have to know right away what you want to be when you grow up. 

Lastly, slow down and take it all in. Be kind and, when at all possible, be the better person even if that means not getting what you want. Your (or anyone else’s) fun should never be at the expense of another. My dad used to say, “You can’t get anything back if you don’t give it away.” What he was talking about was money, but I think that applies to life. Simply put, you get what you give. 

Congratulations, kid. You’ve made it. Now jump in and be the best version of you that you can be. 

XO Aunt Cina