Advice/Things to avoid/Things to Do once you graduate:
- Hug your parents. Whether you got loans or paid for it yourself or they paid, you are a product of their hard work and encouragement. Go ahead, I'll wait.
- Back so soon? Hug them again.
- Stay in touch with your parents. A story? So, when I graduated high school, my parents moved to Poland (yes, that country that used to be communist.) When I graduated from college, they moved to Brazil (yes, not the movie, but the place on the other side of the equator.) I didn't take it personally, but it was a little hard to keep in touch. (Time differences, costly phone bills--which they paid for or #3 would have been toast.) My dad reads at least three newspapers a day, easier now in the e-era. He would mail me articles. I would read them on the bus and think of him. I never ever thought I would be the kind of daugther that called her parents every day. And that doesn't happen overnight and not everyone is like that. But I thought at some point my parents would be irrelevant, I'd start going to Vail or the Bahamas when I got some time off, and we'd see each other at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- If your parents aren't around (geographically or otherwise) find some wise adults. I have so many mothers it's not even funny. The church secretary and I did Mary Kay together, ages ago and she is dear dear dear to me. We've been in Bible Studies together....anyways, a lot of stuff. I know if I need a hug before work, I can drive through Oakland and get one or two.
- Which I guess brings me to the one that truly has saved my life: join a church. I know, you're on your own now, you want to sleep in on Sundays... Well, for me, there's a number one reason (Jesus) but even if that's not one of yours, here are the benefits: you will find those wise adults that can stand in for your parents. And if you're lucky, you'll find a priest or preacher who makes you laugh, and everyone knows that laughter is healthy, so there you go. Plus, singing. It's good for you.
Advice for the parents (SL, that list maker...)
1. If you say you'll pay for something (i.e. phone bills home or car insurance) warn them once you think they're ready to pay their way. My first job barely paid the bills and my father was in Brazil so he couldn't really understand that the only way I *was* paying my bills was that he was paying my car insurance. So after six months, he stopped. We didn't have a conversation--he just stopped. I did a major financial tailspin. TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT MONEY!!!
2. Hug your kids (this is a corrollary of 1, 2, and 3, above). I mean, I didn't exactly take it personally that they moved far far away when I graduated, but graduation and re-entrance into the non-academic world (Sorry, graduates, don't read this part.) JEST AIN'T A PIECE OF PIE. It took me 2 years to find a job I liked enough to stay at longer than a year and it took a Master's Degree and a diagnosis of bipolar and three years back in the nest (yes, I know, you thought they flew the coop permanently, but life happens) for me to find a job I loved at a living wage.
3. TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT CREDIT CARDS! Oh, this is crucial. They may have to learn the lesson on their own, but they will remember the conversation. It's like those commercials where they show kids and parents fishing and they say, "Talk to your kids about smoking." JUST DO IT.
4. Did I mention hug your kids? Even if you are not geographically close, send them a letter. Or an email. KEEP IN TOUCH. And connect them with extended family, if those happen to be geographically closer than you are. Heck, connect them with extended family, period. Family can save a life.
Graduates, you can open your eyes again.
A few closing thoughts:
It took me a long time to get a job I liked at a wage that didn't have me dependent on my credit cards. It took me a long time to figure out if I was still dating guys that looked like my first loser boyfriend, I might want to look into why he had such a grip hold on my heart. It took me a long time to realize that my parents sacrificed a lot for me. Be patient.
When I think back, I know that friends and family saved me. I owe a huge debt to my friends that I'll probably never be able to repay.
I hope that helps.
Oh, and one last thing: figure out early how to get to work on time. If you have to eat your breakfast in the breakroom, do it. This will pay dividends later. I gotta go wash my hair or I will be late for the staff in-service day.
Coming tomorrow: SL celebrates her blogiversary: one full year on the web, woo hoo!