The best advice is what you make of it

I was at a loss for what to write this month, so naturally, I searched Google for column prompts.

One of the first things I stumbled upon was a New York Times article titled, “650 prompts for narrative and personal writing.”

It sounded intriguing, so I clicked on it. The article grouped questions by category, for example, “overcoming adversity,” “role models” and “family” to name a few.

I read 75 prompts before inspiration hit.

Question No. 76 on the list asked, “What’s the best advice you’ve gotten?”

That reminded me of the time last year when I posed this question on social media: “What’s one thing you wish you had known at {milestone birthday age here}.”

One friend commented, “Every day, people just get up, show up and pretend to know what we’re all doing. Seems to work out at least 85 percent of the time, so that’s not too bad.”

Isn’t that the truth?

As I reflect on life’s progressions, we sometimes look ahead wistfully and think those in front of us have life figured out, while our best life remains always just out of reach.

Elementary kids look up to high school students look up to college kids look up to adulthood and having your life figured out, and on and on. If only, and when.

Well, I’m here to tell you as an adult–and most days I don’t feel like one–I certainly don’t have things figured out.

But I think we do learn things along the way, and as we look back, we realize just how far we’ve come.

It’s August now, and that turns my thoughts toward school. Soon, kids from kindergarten to college will sling their brand-new backpacks around their shoulders and head back to school.

It’s been a few years since I went back to school, and I know more now than I did as a teenager. As I reflect on my own college experience, here’s what I wish I had known at 18.

◼ College is uniquely awesome. Never again will you be surrounded by so many people your same age. Take advantage of that, and meet new people.

◼ You cannot control what other people think, and you’re not defined by others’ opinions of you.

◼ Make time for people. Build relationships. Love well. Don’t wait for others to make the first move. Be intentional in reaching out and showing kindness.

◼ Believe in yourself and your abilities. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Failure is not a bad thing if it propels you forward.

◼ Work hard at your studies but not too hard. Life is about balance.

◼ Make time for exercise. You won’t regret it. It will clear your brain and refresh your soul and help keep the dreaded “Freshman 15” from becoming a reality.

◼ Create space for intentional rest, whether that be time alone in a coffee shop or time spent with friends around a bonfire at the reservoir. The to-do list can wait.

And lastly,

◼ No one ever has life figured out, but that doesn’t mean we can’t greet each new day with thankfulness and expectation as we try to be the best version of ourselves at our current age.

I think my friend was onto something with that advice.

No, we may never have everything figured out, but we get up each day and do whatever it is that’s before us. We may know more than we think. And if we don’t? Just fake it.

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