Take Risks

Because if there’s one piece of advice that’s useful from the mouth of someone looking at their life retrospectively, it is to take those risks. Yeah, ok sure, I know that hindsight is 20-20, but that just makes foresight all the more exciting! For example, have you ever blindfolded yourself and ran head-on towards oncoming traffic? Or laid down in an empty road at night with Ryan Gosling? If Benjamin Franklin never flew that kite, you would never have even seen that seminal, dangerously romantic film. Stop what you’re doing and invest everything in that novel you’ve been meaning to write for a while. Open a bakery that specializes in hybridized versions of your favorite desserts. Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any head abrasions or accumulations of crippling debt acquired as a result of following this advice).

Don’t compare yourself to other people.

If there’s one thing we discourage here at college, it is evaluating yourself by some arbitrary, universal metric of intelligence. So just go ahead and put those horse-blinders on nice and snug, and go about your business unbothered. What’s that now? Your GPA? The only GPA I know of is the Great Possibilities Ahead. You know, all of the great possibilities that aren’t contingent on you getting chosen over your friends and peers, based on those haphazard success scores (what are they called again? Grades?).

Don’t worry about what other people think of you

Just do your own thing! Turn those people sensors off. Because when you were becoming you, your metric of “proper” behavior was not purely based on feedback from others. Because the entire basis of your personality, and hence everything you say and do, definitely is not a composite of your reactions to every social response ever flung at you. So just go ahead and release that part of yourself that isn’t a direct product of your social environment. It’s in there! Probably. Just follow the old friend-from-camps’-Facebook-album-title saying: “dance like no one is watching.” Naked.

Be Yourself

There can only be one you. That’s right, it’s that simple! Step 1: Take a deep breath. Step 2: Take that lifetime of experiences that you somehow craft into some semblance of an identity— and just act consistently with that. Step 3: At every moment, keep track of what that is, and just go full speed ahead towards that. Just like Ryan said, “you gotta do what’s right for you, even if it hurts the people you love.” It’s so simple. You’re doing so well.

Be Present

If there’s one thing that history has taught us, it is to be present. Don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. Listen to your unreasonably attractive yoga teacher and relax that old, hard to reach “muscle behind your eyes” and just breathe the oxygen that is the here and the now. What’s that? Junior Paper due in four hours? Is it four hours now? No, it isn’t! See? You’re already getting the hang of it. I am so proud of you. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, then try meditation. All you have to do is find a quiet, isolated space, and sit in silence, breathing. No, it’s not just a glorified version of doing nothing.

Do what you love

Because life is just too short. You have one heart, one set of lungs, at least one kidney, and at least one of those has an expiration date that is sooner than that of the pliable, processed hunk of a protein bar you’re eating. So move your limbs while you still can and do what you love to do. What’s that? You’d love to feed yourself and have a roof over your head? You’d love to do this without profoundly compromising your mental health or your obligation to contribute to society in some meaningful way? Next. Next advice.

Stop and smell the roses

Nothing more concrete and useful than a timeless horticultural metaphor. Just like Ringo Starr said in the title of his eighth unsuccessful solo album, stop and smell ‘em. He certainly stopped to take in those robust odorants of nature, and you should too. Yes, go ahead! Smell them! What? I look nervous to you? It’s just that, well, my cousin was once smelling roses and she didn’t realize about the thorns and the pollen. And so anyway we had to bring her to the hospital it was such a train wreck. But Carol is different. You’ll be fine seriously just smell them. Would it help if I abstracted this more with metaphors of flowing water and music so that it is vague enough to be superficially applicable to literally everything? Did I mention I was proud of you? You’re doing everything right.