Isn't it amazing how quickly the years go? The time warp has just begun for you.
I'm no expert but I do have the wisdom of a few years. I've made my share of mistakes and I've learned some of the lessons the hard way. If I were speaking to you alone or in your graduation ceremony, here' are some tips I'd pass along:
The Brass ring is different for you than for me.
Don't let anyone define it for you.
Abby says: Work on building your self-worth and self-confidence. The longer you wait, the harder it is to acquire this.
Your size is not who you are but you may be judged for it.
Be comfortable in your own skin. If you're not, learn to fake it.
Abby says: My advice would be work very hard to become comfortable so you don't have to fake it. Don't pay attention to what your friends are doing. Be your own person.
Everything you do or say could wind up posted on UTube, FaceBook or other sites on the Internet.
Sometimes dancing on the table seems like a swell idea. I've done it. Sometimes having someone take your photo while the guy behind you is holding an illegal substance seems harmless. In this day and age, it will come back to haunt you.
Abby says: As Sheri and I heard recently at a conference in NYC, don't put anything on the Internet you would not want to appear on the diamond vision screen in Times Square! Good advice.
I am still learning this. For some of us, it's an ongoing battle. I could've saved myself a lot of pain and tears if I'd tried a little harder. The flip side of this is never compromise if you're selling out.
Abby: Compromise is an ongoing task forever. Learn to embrace it and live it because this will touch every facet of your life.
Know who is in your corner.
Don't take them for granted. Don't be afraid to reevaluate.
Abby says: People are generally "good". Give them the benefit of the doubt until you have reason not to.
Keep your credit and your reputation clean.
You'll save yourself years of headaches and possibly a small fortune.
Abby says: Start now. Don't wait. When you marry, understand his/her financial woes. You'll probably inherit this.
Your boyfriend now may not be the love of your life.
No offense to all of you who have managed to navigate long-distance relationships and have great plans for the future. I know lots of people who have made it work with their high school and/or college love. Just make sure you have explored who you are. Sometimes the love of your life isn't the person you've fallen into a comfortable routine with.
Abby says: My best relationships appeared later in my life. Enjoy singlehood while you are young.
Most of you will become mothers. With that life stage, you will appreciate your own mothers, aunts and girlfriends even more. Children will shock your mind, body and soul. The responsibility is mind-boggling. Don't take it lightly.
Abby says: Amen.
Have your own time.
Is it a cup of tea and the newspaper in the morning? Is it 10 minutes to read before you fall asleep? Is it 20 minutes to email some friends? Give yourself a few minutes every day. There's a reason they put locks on doors.
Abby says: Even in the strongest relationships, both partners need their "space". Getting involved with someone who does not respect and embrace this may be a control problem later (or sooner).
Take your time.
Some days will feel like a never-ending juggling act. You have time to be a career woman, if that is your goal. You have time to be a wife, which takes redefining endlessly. You have time to be a mother. You will be called on to care for others: parents, siblings and friends. Don't beat yourself up when you can't do it all at once.
Abby says: In recent years, I have learned that being spontaneous is invigorating. Learn this now so you have it later.
Your health matters.
You are young and probably in good health. It's very easy to take that for granted. I warn you ... the weirdest things can creep up on you. Know your family history.
Abby says: Young ladies, have your female check-ups and mammograms EVERY year. Many catastrophic health problems are preventable. If you save money for nothing else now, be sure you keep (or sign up for) your health insurance. I work in health care -- I know!
I'm sure you get very tired of all of us old folks reminding you that we grew up with three television channels, no microwaves or VCRs. The computer chip in your cell phone used to take an entire building to house. So, if those changes happened in the 25 or so years since I was in college, imagine what your next 25 years will bring. You already know more than the majority of Americans. Keep up.
Abby says: We're preaching to the techno choir here!
And be politically informed.
Abby says: You are the futures of our country.
Know your comfort things.
I like the company of my dog and a cushy pair of slippers. My blood pressure can decrease immediately if I am near a lake or the ocean. The bathtub will do in a pinch.
Abby says: Private time is irreplaceable! Mine is my tub, a book and a glass of wine with no TV or computer.
Roll with It.
You'll make good and bad choices. Don't beat yourself up. Learn from your mistakes and embrace the good in all you do.
Abby says: My favorite motto is "Fess up then Move On"!
Diversity Is beautiful!
Everyone is different. Learn to breathe this in and enjoy it. The world is full of interesting people.
This is your time. Enjoy it!