Advice for my college self

ACU

Giving unsolicited advice is usually a bad idea, unless you’re giving it to yourself.

I recently attended my 20th college reunion. I’ll save you the math: I’m 42.

I graduated in 1999, which now sounds more like a sale price than an actual year of history. Our class motto boldly stated, “The century saved the best for last.” Yes, that’s the best we could come up with.

As I strolled a campus I’ve visited only a handful of times since graduation, I contemplated what I would tell my college-age self, if I could, from my current vantage point aloft forty-two years of experience.

This is not a definitive list. If there’s anything you learn from four decades of life it’s that there’s not much definitive in this world.

Nonetheless, truth, wisdom and perspective are accessible. So, here’s what I’d say to that handsome young buck, in between his Sadie Hawkins dates, of course:

  1. You’re about to make life-altering choices. Don’t agonize over them. There are many right options and only a few wrong ones. Spend more time and energy making your decisions right than you do fretting over making the right decisions.
  2. Your life up until now has been marked by milestones. Tests, graduations, licenses, liberties. These clear-cut goals can lure you into thinking summits are the point. They’re not. Find joy in the journey. As your friend’s tattoo will one day read, “The journey is the destination.”
  3. You’ve been rewarded for achievement. Not since kindergarten have you been commended for sitting still. Accomplishments require activity and effort, and there’s a good lesson there about the value of work. But keep it in check. We’re human beings, not human doings. Do less; be more.
  4. It’s good to explore your passions, but people pay for skills. You’ll need some practical ones to support yourself and your family. Money is not everything; it is something.
  5. Don’t worry about what others think of you. Think for yourself, and don’t be consumed with pleasing others. People aren’t usually thinking about you anyway; they are mainly thinking about themselves.
  6. Build up your patience and perseverance. The best things in life require a long process. Weeds sprout up quickly, as Jesus pointed out, but they’re useless in scorching sunlight. A shady oak took years to grow from a single acorn.
  7. Life is a team sport and a group effort. Help others, and learn to ask for help yourself. Then, be humble enough to receive it. “Alone we go fast; together we go far,” business consultant Ed Krei says.
  8. Watch out for perfectionism. It will sabotage your plans and relationships. Pursue faithfulness and consistency instead. You’ve heard Jesus said, “Be perfect as my Heavenly Father is perfect.” According to one seminarian, a more accurate translation is, “Be whole as my Heavenly Father is whole.”
  9. An onslaught of distraction is coming; learn to focus. You think cable TV and America Online are time suckers…
  10. The older you get, the faster life will go. Don’t wait to start down the path you want to be on. But don’t rush. In fact, “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life,” Dallas Willard said. That’s good advice, as is this: Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

3 Responses to “Advice for my college self”


  1. 1 John H October 23, 2019 at 08:01

    As usual, I really enjoyed the article. I als sent it to my two kids in college.

    Hope all is well with you and the family. John Hollinshead

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. 2 Amy October 23, 2019 at 11:41

    good words

  3. 3 Chris Martin (@IDChrisMartin) October 24, 2019 at 15:17

    This is awesome. Thank you for sharing, encouraging and inspiring…. all things I remember about you from my time at ACU.


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