Right now I'm sitting in my fraternity room in Alpha Gamma Rho at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. I can hear the music from the bars just yards away and all of my friends are there right now enjoying a semi-typical Friday night in college. The reason I say semi-typical is because there is never a "typical" Friday night in college. If you think there is, you're doing it wrong. For starters, I'm 23 and still here. No your father isn't an idiot, I just had some other stuff to do for awhile that postponed my degree (I'm sure you'll have at least seen blue corduroy in our house). Now, if you think I'm making up said "friends" because I'm alone in my room writing this blog post instead of socializing at the bar, I'm not. They exist, not many of them, but they're there. The reason I'm here instead of there is because I have a flight that leaves at 7am out of OKC and I'm broke... mainly because I'm broke. Sleep doesn't matter (write that down). Back to my friends totally existing and stuff, I think that's where I'll start this whole advice thing.
You don't need very many friends, you just need a few that actually care about you. Maybe even just one. I've had a lot of people call me friend in my life and I've called a lot of people my friend, but you'll know the one's that matter. When you find them, do everything you can to spend time with them, sacrifice for them, help them pick out gifts for their girlfriends and go to their house for Easter. Get to know their family because they'll become your family too. I want these friends to be the friends that when you hear that one song by Vitamin C that was played at every graduation from 2002-2009 (I think it was called "Graduation Song"), you'll be thinking of them. You'll know that these are the right people when you're crying at 4am on the front lawn of your house because you've hurt the girl of your dreams in a way you think is beyond repair and they'll sit with you until you stop crying and then tell you how to fix it. You'll know 'em when the first one gets married and you throw him in the pond, full tux and all, right after he cuts the cake with his new wife. You'll know these are the right people when you can tell them their biggest flaw to their face and they'll thank you for it. Trust me, you'll just know.
I mentioned earlier that I'm 23 and still living in a fraternity house. Some of the guys call me dad, which is terrifying because the last guy that lived in this fraternity that had me call him dad got a girl pregnant like two weeks after that. Also, that's how babies are made, pregnancy. Hopefully we've had "that" talk by now. *Awkward pause* Moving on. The reason I'm still in my undergrad at age 23 is because I took two years off to serve as an officer in the FFA at the state and national level. So while I've only been a student at OSU for six, going on seven, semesters, I tell people I've had a continuing post-secondary education since the time I graduate high school. I've learned about sociology, world religions, chemistry (hahahaha well... kind of), and teaching methodology. But I've also learned how to come up with a 20 minute speech as I'm walking onto the stage and how to comfort a stranger that just lost their mom in a car accident and for some reason decided to confide in you. My point it is, you will be educated and that's all there is to it. But how you author your own education is up to you. I want you to know things that help you do things that you love. If that means 10 straight years of university enrollment and one degree (you'll be paying for that), fantastic. If that means you go straight to work after high school to master technical skills, awesome. If that means you travel the world (again on your own budget) to explore language, religion, cuisine and culture, great. Your education is yours and I won't pigeon hole you into any one dream because it's safe. Take risks, but be willing to pay the consequences and embrace humility in the rewards.
Right now America is struggling. I'm still proud to be an American and thankful for the freedoms I enjoy per my citizenship, however, today our country is a place where legitimate contending presidential candidates are openly polarizing other citizens for their beliefs. So, yeah. If said candidate gets elected this next year, you probably won't even read this because I'm pretty positive he's gonna somehow figure out a way to destroy the internet and everything else I love. Regardless, this isn't about that. I pray every single day that you'll grow up to know Jesus. ON THE REAL. To be frank, I'm terrified that you'll grow up and stray away from the faith that has carried me through some of my biggest struggles. However, my advice to you, no matter your belief system, is to take genuine curiosity in the belief systems of other people. That's step one. Step two, love them no matter their answer. Churches, the media, your best friends, your biggest role models and even your family might tell you differently. The more you can learn about others without casting judgement based on what you thought you already knew, the better yourworld and theworld will be. The trick is loving others for their values while standing firm in your own. I'm still working on that.
Lastly, know that I love you and I'm thinking about you and praying for you daily. Ooo! Ooo! Last last thing... no matter what your mom says, I totally never joked about selling you to help start a brewery.