Editorial: Ten things I want my graduating senior to remember

Lisa Yates @Lisa_editor

When this column hits newsstands on Thursday, I'll be in Shreveport attending my son's high school graduation. All the clichés are true: the time has gone by way too fast.

One of my Facebook friends, a writer named Lisa Froman, wrote a beautiful letter to her son 11 years ago when he was preparing for graduation. She recently published it on her blog "Tao Flashes" which I highly recommend.

It got me to thinking. What do I want to say to my son as he makes this important transition in life?

I've come up with a list of 10 things and here they are:

No. 1 – I love you.

You know it, because I tell you every day. Still, I don't want you to have even the slightest doubt. No matter how big you get, I'll always give you hugs and kisses, and tell you "I love you."

No. 2 – I'm proud of you.

Not only are you a star baseball player ranked as a No. 1 pitcher in the state of Louisiana, you are a stellar human being with a genuine good heart. More than all of your outstanding achievements in sports and academics, I'm most proud of the young man you are!

I can't tell you how many times someone has told me what a fine young man you are – other parents, teacher, coaches – they've all told me. That's something a mom never gets tired of hearing. I'm so proud of you!

No. 3 – Don't let anyone take your "happy"

The world is a scary place filled with damaged human beings. Some of them purposely try to hurt other people.

I wish I could keep them far away from you, but I can't. All I can do is tell you that don't allow anyone to steal your joy. Don't let them take away your "happy."

Remember God loves you. Stay strong in your spiritual beliefs and love God. God will always be there for you working miracles and supplying more blessings than you can count.

No. 4 – You are judged by the company you keep, so stay in good company.

Stay away from abusive people. These are loud-mouthed people who have to build themselves up by putting other people down. Just as there are bullies in school, there are bullies in life.

Be kind and be classy, but distance yourself from abusive people.

Instead, cultivate relationships with people like yourself – folks with kind and generous hearts. They won't be making a lot of noise, but you'll recognize them by their behavior.

They will recognize you, too. Cherish these friendships.

No. 5 – Be careful!

It's important to love everyone, but do so from a safe distance.

A tiger is a magnificent animal, but given the opportunity it will tear you to pieces. That's what tigers do.

Whether it's a genetic anomaly or a chemical imbalance, some people are dangerous animals like tigers. So please be careful.

Learn how to protect yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.

No. 6 – Take care of your health.

In college it's tempting to eat a lot junk food, go to parties and drink alcohol, engage in risky sexual behavior and go without sleep. I know you don't engage in this type of behavior, but it's almost the norm on college campuses. More than likely, you will feel peer pressure that you've never had to deal with at your small Christian high school.

Just remember you are a student athlete and your health is precious. The headlines are filled with student athletes that have destroyed themselves and their careers while still in college. You have been blessed with a strong, healthy body so please take care of it.

No. 7 – Forgive yourself and others.

No matter how hard you try, you are bound to make mistakes. It happens. We are all flawed human beings. Even good people make mistakes.

The important thing is to recognize when you have made a mistake. Apologize, if you can, and try to do better next time. Forgive yourself and move forward in a positive direction.

No. 8 – Learn to surf.

I'm not talking surfing the waves of Hawaii. I'm talking about surfing the waves of life.

Sometimes life is so great and everything is wonderful. Sometimes life is filled with so much pain you'll wonder if you can even bear to live it another minute. It's like that for everyone at some point.

Life is filled with highs and lows. It's the nature of the beast.

The important thing is to be a surfer. Learn to ride the highs and lows like a surfer rides waves.

Don't let the joys throw you off balance and don't let the sorrows do it, either. Learn to surf.

No. 9 – Continue to set goals.

I know you have accomplished a lot because you have set certain goals for yourself. That's an excellent skill you've developed early in life.

Continue to set goals for yourself. Even if it's something small like getting to class on time, have a goal.

College makes it pretty easy. You have to take certain classes in order to get the degree you want. The professors will post their expectations right from the start. Do the work and get the degree.

No. 10 – You can always come home.

If the pressure gets to be too intense, you can always come home. Some kids aren't ready for college straight out of high school and there's no shame in that.

Your family loves you and will support you in whatever you need. Don't be afraid if you're not ready yet. You can always come home.

I love you, Stephen Morrison!

Congrats to the Class of 2013 – May all of your dreams come true.

Lisa Yates is the editor of Gonzales Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_editor.