Goodbye childhood. Hello adulthood. This is what my oldest niece Shakira is experiencing as she gets ready to graduate from high school. She’s excited about adulthood because to her it means freedom to do whatever she wants. But like most 18-year olds, she hasn’t really thought about the responsibilities that come with that freedom.
As her aunt, I thought I would take the opportunity to impart some life lessons that I’ve personally found to be helpful in living a full and happy life. But Shakira doesn’t want to listen to a lecture from me. Blah. Blah. Blah. Even if she did listen, she could easily forget everything I told her the next day.
I needed to deliver my nuggets of wisdom in a fun and memorable way and something that would make a cool graduation gift.
I created a custom photo book called “18 Things I Wish I Had Known at 18.” I picked out a black and white template from Shutterfly.com that matched my niece’s sense of taste and style.
In the book I listed my top 18 life lessons and paired them with photos of Shakira, Shakira and me together, and group family photos. I arranged the photos in chronological older starting with her baby photos.
Here are the 18 life lessons or words of wisdom I put together:
- Love yourself. Respect yourself.
- Don’t rush through life. There are up sides to every age whether young or old.
- It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.
- Learn to laugh at yourself. Life’s too short not to laugh.
- It’s not all about you.
- Classes can be retaken. Life cannot.
- Be able to forgive. Hate, anger and bitterness will eat you up from the inside.
- The most important things in life aren’t things.
- Your work ethic will play a bigger factor in your success than your intelligence.
- Your thoughts create reality.
- Life happens when you step outside your comfort zone.
- No one will take care of your health if you don’t.
- Never spend more than you earn. Debt only creates stress and limits your opportunities.
- Sometimes the only person that you can rely on is yourself.
- Don’t let your happiness depend on another person.
- Your family will always be there for you.
- Confidence is sexy.
- What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
At the beginning of the book, I included this letter on a dedication page:
I remember when you were a baby and I taught you where your “cheeks” were and when I had you show others you put your hands on your butt cheeks just like I had taught you. Good girl! LOL
Now you are 18 years old, a high school graduate, and an adult about to take on the world and make life choices that will significantly impact your future. Whatever life you want for yourself, you can make it happen with goal setting and hard work. I believe in you, and I am here for you.
This is a time of big decisions for you because graduation is not the end. It’s a new beginning and anything is possible!
With my graduation gift to Shakira, my hope is that she will treasure it like a family photo album and learn from it like a good book.
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. – Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!