Dear Darling Niece,
You asked for advice for graduating seniors.
There is too much advice to give. I’m not sure that I am qualified to give it. Because though I have made many good decisions, I have also made many bad mistakes. I have hurt and been hurt. I have been forgiven, and I have learned how to forgive. So, with all of that, probably the most wholehearted advice I have is about acceptance.
Acceptance starts with listening.
Many of the most exceptional people in the world are the ones who seek to know more about those around them. They listen to stories. They ask questions and wait for answers. They will tell you: Wallflowers are particularly interesting. Listen closely to hear what they have to say. Pull them off of the wall and include them in the bouquet. Someone told me this and did this for me – many someones. I try to pay it forward and hope you will too.
Every person has a story that has shaped who they are, and their stories are still being written as is yours. As you learn about others, be accepting. Accepting others when they open up to you allows your story to grow. Each person you meet and friend that you make adds another chapter to your self. The story of you will be richer with every relationship.
Sometimes you will find a person with whom a friendship is unlikely. That is ok.
A wise person once told me, “You cannot be friends with everyone.” This is true. But do try. The person that was not your friend yesterday may be your friend in twenty years. You never know.
With this in mind, speak kindly. Your compassion and empathy will take you farther than a harsh judgement. In your social circle and your community, one word of kindness could unknowingly be the word that changes the tides for the better.
It is not always easy to do this. Running with a pack is much easier than running alone. But your pack will grow if others know that you accept without judgement. Surrounding yourself with people who are kindhearted and understanding will help you hold on to those qualities in yourself.
Lastly, keep growing.
It is such a privilege to watch you grow up. Remember that as you continue to grow and change every year, so will the people around you – parents too. Be open to their changes just as you want them to be open to yours. Never stop evolving. You have so much to offer the world. I know you will embrace what you find out there.