If I could send a message to Ryan McRae, a freshman at Illinois State University, what would I send? What books? (Besides the 9/11 warning, don’t call Tina to go to homecoming in front of roommates, and buy Amazon and Yahoo stocks stat. Oh and secure the Microsoft web address as long as you could.)
Here’s the advice and knowledge I’d pass along.
Give Up Impressing Everyone: When people say, “Oh, you don’t have to impress anyone.” I roll my eyes. We all want to impress someone we love, the people who interview us and the students we work with. What I need to learn is that I don’t have to impress everyone and I certainly don’t have to impress my friends. “You don’t have to impress me,” my friend Aaron said. “I like you already. Don’t let the need to impress me get in the way of being friends.” It’s true. I’m so used to doing a song and dance for everyone, I miss out on genuine friendship.
Say No More Often: I’ve suffered from burnout quite often in my housing career. It has gotten to the point where I would shudder about meeting with a student about a simple roommate conflict or cringe when the Resident Advisor meeting loomed ahead of me. As I look back on how I got burnt out, I see a ton of commitments where I just should have said “No.” The fear of disappointing people can be crippling, but trust me, it needs to be said more often. (Unless you are a surgeon, no one will die when you say no.)
Express Love More Often. Oof, I know this sounds cheesy. Just putting the phrase in bold makes me cringe, but telling people how much you appreciate them, expressing how you feel enriches your life. I don’t want to get to the twilight of my life and have people not know how I feel. I don’t have to have a life unsaid and unlived. . .
Take More Risks. . . I’m learning at 38 to just go out on a limb. I’ve lived too long with the fear inside me that failure is somehow the worst thing in the world. It’s not. I’ve had more opportunities arise OUT of failures.
And it’s my hope when I’m 58, I can look back at the man I am now and say, “Hey, he did pretty good if I do say so myself.”