After all the craziness of Kentucky's senior year of high school...
And after much advice dished out by yours truly...
I sat Kentucky down and gave her one final piece of advice before her folks drove her down to college.
"This is going to be a very interesting year for you," I said. "This is a year when you will really get to know yourself. It is a time when no one is around to tell you what to do, when to study, or what decision to make. And this will be a year that you see your true self."
That advice is sage enough. And I imagine, it's the most common piece of advice given to a student going off to college for the first time.
But I took it a step further.
"At the end of the year, and better yet, at the end of each semester, take some time to your self to critically think about the time that has past. Learn to get real honest with yourself. Think about the good, the bad and the ugly that has gone on. Think about what has uplifted you and what has hurt you. Assess your successes and mistakes. Just spend some time being mindful of the year. Because it's a time when you will see your true self.
And sometimes our true self may be someone that we don't like.
And that's okay. At least you were honest with yourself... And you can then take the time to make the proper adjustments."
"Okay," she said, in her usual quiet tone.
I wished her well, and told her we would talk when she got settled in. I always checked in on her, and she checked in with me.
I pretty much forgot about the advice. She was getting along well.
But I remember us talking at the end of the year.
"Lisa, you were right about what you said," she said. "That was some year, and I learned so much about myself."
And we talked about it. I was amazed at how much she had thought about things, and the things she needed to improve. She didn't have to share her thoughts with me, but I was honored that she did.
And that she took my advice to heart.
You see, I didn't go away to college after high school. I was only 16 years old, so Mother said I was too young to go off to school. Even though I was accepted to a couple of colleges in state in Georgia where I would've had to live in a dorm, I didn't go.
We simply didn't have the funds, and I knew that.
For me to take a full load for a quarter of school at my alma mater some 26 years ago in 1986 was $483 dollars.
And maybe one of the best things my mother did for me. I was too young to go off to school.
BUT I moved away at 21 for graduate school. It was at the ivy league school some 30 miles across town, but THAT is when I really really got to know myself... the good, the bad and the ugly.
And that's from whence I derived the advice I gave Kentucky.
Those first years away are troubling at times... especially when you're trying to find your footing emotionally and mentally. Very trying times. There are many good times, but sometimes those bad times seem to drown things out... cloud your mind in crazy ways.
I was trying to get Kentucky to take the necessary action to clear out those clouds...
So she can get a good view of the sun that's always there.
But it takes good hard honest work... necessary work.
And you know, some 12 or 13 years later, she STILL talks about that advice I gave her... in incredible detail.
And she spends that critical time assessing, honing and pruning what needs reshapened and taken care of...
And of course celebrating her victories and triumphs.
Interestingly enough, her friends criticize her about these things.
"Kentucky, you're always trying to gain perspective on your situations. You always thinking about stuff."
I get on a soapbox whenever she tells me this, which is often... all these years.
"Why you trying to discuss thangs with them chickens, man!?"
That always leads to...
"And you see what happens when you don't think. Look at your friends. And that's what happens."
That is always followed by "Don't discuss your uncommon dreams with common people! If you gotta get in here and talk to Oscar-Tyrone, then do that. He won't sit up here and put you down or call you crazy!"
He'll look at you like you crazy...
But the cat won't talk back!
I am just amazed that she uses that advice... and has held on to that way of thinking for dear life.
So dear Chele? These last 2 posts were for you. Don't worry too much about your baby going off to school. yes we were silly ourselves back then, and yes... she has to grow. But be confident what you have instilled in her will go a long way.
A very long way.
All of young people need good advice form those who have been through it all... and still going through it...
And still yet learning from it all.
Thanks for your poignant post, Chele. It had me remembering the days of old when I had to give my sister some wise advice... and had me hoping that all we instilled in her would carry her through.