I shared this letter with my 8th graders at their final awards ceremony on May 24, 2017 with the hope that I could impart some wisdom to them as they continue down the road of life.
This is letter is from you a little further down the road of life. I’m hoping that I can give you a little perspective as you finish Middle School and transition to High School. I’m going to be very direct because I want you to hear the truth.
Congratulations on finishing 8th grade! You feel on top of the world, but will enter a school with 2600 students in August and be a small fish in a large pond. Don’t worry…You will make a lot of friends in high school through the different activities that you participate in.
Stay true to yourself and don’t worry about what others think and say about you. Ten years from now you won’t even know most of their names. Character, not intellect, is what counts in the real world. Your integrity and values will guide you through the tough times in life. Pick friends that challenge you to be better and tell you the truth even when it is hard.
Failure and rejection are part of life. You will ask a girl out in high school and she will say no. You will be crushed and feel rejected, but I promise that you will marry the most beautiful woman in the world. You will apply to college and not get in, but don’t worry another will accept you and your experience will be wonderful. You will interview for many more jobs than you get, but you will persevere and be given the opportunity to do work that you are truly passionate about. The truth is that failure is the first step in success. It will build character which I’ve already stated is truly the most important thing.
Listen to your parents. I know that you think they are dumb and don’t know anything. I wish I could reach through this letter and literally knock some sense into you. It’s true, they don’t know everything, but listening to them will save you a lot of heartache in life. They truly want the best for you so they hold you accountable. You will learn through life that those who truly care have high expectations for you.
You are smarter than you think. Test scores aren’t the ultimate measure of your future success. You don’t take tests or memorize things particularly well, but in life nobody will take your books away from you. It is your ability to solve problems and communicate that will ultimately lead to the successes you will experience.
You want life to go fast. You are in a hurry to grow up and start your life. Stop and enjoy every moment as you progress through High School and College. I still remember high school orientation like it was yesterday. You will blink and be graduating college and working a job unloading trucks while you look for your first real job. When I was your age I wanted life to move as fast as possible and now I long for it to slow down a bit so I can enjoy the ride. Life is shorter than you think and you will learn that the hard way from losing some friends and family members along the way. I’ve learned that the journey in life is more important than the destination. I look forward to seeing you down the road.