To my Niece Upon High School Graduation

I hope none of these sound bossy :) You are a great kid and some of these advices probably aren’t necessary but all are true to me. I wish someone would have told them to me at your age. Anyway, I wasn’t around for your upbringing much for the past 10 years or so but I definitely think you or any college kid would benefit by these pieces of advice. I’m not sure what the high school diploma requirements are but you graduated so you’re off to a great start! Enjoy the next chapters of your life. FIRST: School – Don’t think you are missing out if you miss partying. Everyone in college has to study the same amount. If you miss a party you will be more focused and less likely to flunk out (as 46% of your graduating class year will). A little celebrating is fine but … Get school done, there’ll be time enough for partying when you have the best career. The main reason I am able to support my family (cost wise) is because of my college not because of lame parties I went to.

Work – Learn a way to “leave work at work.” Avoid socializing too much there. It is your means to an end. Making a couple good friends at work is fine but you will save yourself a lot of trouble making solid boundaries between “IRL” and work. This is true when you start your career but also while in a part or full time job in college. Last, look into a good online school. They are showing up everywhere these days.

Fun – Do fun things! These keep your smile real and your bones healthy. Avoid alcohol or drugs to have fun. Many kids nowadays have bought into drugs and they will be sorry. I’ve been to some of my friends’ funerals who died of drugs.

Love – LOL. Me? Giving advice on this? Well yes. Enjoy time with guys but remember people come and go out of your life while in college. “Hold on loosely” is a good mantra. Treasure your experiences, I encourage you to have them. Be smart and all that. It is the experiences of dates and getting to know someone that you will call upon when you are one day married. I am so grateful for the experiences I’ve had with love. This is because they helped me understand what a relationship is. After nearly 10 years of marriage I am still working to figure that out.

Other – Spirituality is highly over rated. In fact, it makes some people insane. My advice is to spend quiet time with yourself on a daily or weekly basis. Keep a journal. All the religions of the world have still yet to show us proof what happens after 80 years or so when we die. For that reason, ignore the pamphlets they give you as you’re walking across campus and live with joy within those 80 years. Replace the word “spiritual” in your life with “relaxation” and “peace” and you’ll be better off than anyone in any church. The most important focus a young woman can have is finding a good career after college. I know you will knock em dead!

All the best kiddo, I love you.

Uncle Damien

Author: Damien Riley

Damien Riley is a blogger, film reviewer, & podcaster who writes a column at RileyCentral.blog once a week. He has an MA in English from California State University, Fullerton. He married a high-desert princess (now his queen). They have 3 children.