Six Timeless Life Lessons
At the end of last semester, I couldn’t help but spoon out a little life advice to my college students. Some were leaving campus for the summer and some were leaving campus for good. I couldn’t help but weave lessons about life and relationships into our lessons about the psychology of personality. I couldn’t help but try to impart to them the lessons that it took me twenty more years to learn, but that I wish I had known at the age of 19.
Granted, some of these lessons are really about living by the Golden Rule. They are lessons that most of us learn in kindergarten but can take much longer to truly live. They are lessons that may best be learned through trial and error and even through suffering the necessary losses that come when we don’t learn those lessons. Sometimes, life really is our best teacher. And sometimes, someone says the right thing at the right time, and the lesson gets through anyway.
Here is what I told them.
I told them to be sure to let the people with whom they have shared this past year know how much they have meant to them. To acknowledge and appreciate the people without whom, this past year of study and self-discovery at Wake Forest would not have been possible. I urged them to let go of grudges they have held onto with friends and roommates, the origins of which they probably can’t remember anyway (this was met with knowing laughter). I told them to peace up with their parents before they go home if they have been on the outs with them. That way, their summer homecoming can be a peaceful reunion, not one that is anticipated with apprehension or dread.
I told them that now is the time to complete the semester as they had intended to perform throughout the entire semester. That regardless to how they performed academically up to that point that right now they could be the student they had originally set out to be or– to even exceed what they ever thought was possible for themselves.
“End this year well.” I told them, “So you can begin well whatever comes next for you.”
Finally, I told them not to assume that there would be another chance to do these things because they don’t know that there will be.
Rather than meeting my “words of wisdom” with rolled eyes and patient attention, these lessons were met with earnest listening. I could see the expression on their faces expand with the knowledge that they have every say in how the rest of their semester goes, in how their relationships go, and truly, how their life goes.
Bridge Builders, how do you live these lessons in your own life? The hour is now! We Are The Ones!
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This essay was created by Dr. Cristin Whiting, Psy.D: Triad Tribe author, clinical psychologist, and adjunct professor at Wake Forest University. In addition to writing for Bridges, Cristin is launching a new website and multimedia blog called The Love Tango: The Extraordinary Dance Between Sex, Love and Intimacy. Cristin also writes monthly on the topic of relationships for Dr. Lara Fernandez.com who’s tag line is “Live the life of your dreams with your soulmate by your side.” She also blogs for Triad Mom’s on Main. Beyond her writing, Cristin is the mother of two children who are the joy of her life. She also volunteers as a leadership coach, empowering others to live lives they love so they can be a contribution to their communities. Cristin currently resides in Winston-Salem and has a private psychotherapy practice.