To the class of 2015...sorta

It was twenty years ago I graduated from The University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez (COLEGIO) with my bachelor’s in Political Science.  Yes, I am THAT old.  I look around my wonderful life now, and think back to who I was then and what my whole world view was back then and it is amazing how much things have changed.  For one, at the age of 21 living in a small town in Puerto Rico, I had no idea there was a place called Dewy Rose where I would one day live, work and happily raise a family.

The world has changed a lot in twenty years, but not so much that I am going to sit here and reminisce about the so called good old days.  I am an optimist and I want to always think we are better off now then we were then.  I want to raise my girls to live in today and for tomorrow and not for yesterday.  But at the risk of being cliché those who do not learn from history…well, you know.

I am fortunate to have a lot of young people in my circle, or at least in the next circle over.  A lot of people who I love and who I have seen grow up are going through some amazing changes.  They are all very different from one another. Some are family; some just feel like they are.  They are graduating high school, or college, taking trips outside of the US for the first time, or moving overseas. They are all amazing young men and women who I am proud to know and look forward to what they will do next.  They are all smart, good hearted people and I wish I could sit them down and tell them what I have learned in the two decades since I left home but they would probably look at me and nod politely while in their heads they are thinking “she is one crazy old lady!”.

That’s OK.  At you age I would probably have done the same thing.  But one of the ways the world is better is that I can sit at my laptop on a Sunday afternoon and pretend I can talk to you one on one, write on a blog and send it to you through facebook.  That way you can read it or delete it, but I can pretend that I got through to you.  Or better yet, maybe I do get through the you.  Who knows?

I went to college at the age of 17 because I was the youngest in my class.  That means I was 16 when I was doing college applications and trying to decide who I would be when I grew up.  Makes perfect sense.  Doesn’t every 16 year old know everything? Anyway I was an argumentative child and had heard all my life I would be a lawyer one day.  That, or president.  I was also always good at the Social Sciences, history, languages, and so I went to the best school I could get into (and that I could afford) and chose Political Science as my major.  I was able to stay at home while I went to college because it was so close so I did n’t need to worry about room and board.  That was the first “grown
up” decision I had to make.  I would have much rather move to San Juan and go the Rio Piedras campus.  But I could not imagine being able to afford living on my own.  Besides, my friends were all staying close.  I was scared to even try.

Well college is college.  In some ways it was an extension of high school, in others it was a whole new world.  New people, new challenges, new experiences.  By my second year I had figured out I did not want to be a lawyer.  I loved Poli Sci though, so I stuck with it and started thinking maybe Graduate School was the way the go.  My point here is to say, I changed my mind early on, and changed the course of what I would do.  I didn’t change my major, but the goal had already changed.  Truth be told, I did not know what the goal was anymore.  Finishing the degree became the goal and moving on to the next level.  Never be afraid to change your mind.  Never be afraid to try something new.  Never
think: “I don’t know anyone doing this, maybe I shouldn’t.”

Not doing something just because no one else is is as stupid as doing something just because everyone else is.  You have got to follow your gut.  Go with the instinct.  Do not be swayed by public opinion. Let me tell you a little secret.  Most people were like me.  Most people went with it and did what they thought they were supposed to do.  I find that most people, every day, still now are going through the motions and doing what they think they are expected to do.  Life is about figuring out what works for you.  Life is about growing.  In order to grow you need to be exposed to new things, and yes, sometimes you need to change your mind and sometimes you need to fail.  You will be hard pressed to find someone, of any age, that could not name something they wish they did or didn’t do.  But you know what?  That is life.

I moved to Georgia a few months after college.  I only stayed for 10 months and went back home.  I was not happy.  That life at that time was not what I wanted.  I changed my mind and went back home to try something else.  My roommate who was a dear friend who moved to Georgia with me thought that my returning home was admitting failure.  thought about for a long time before and after I moved.    Yes, I had failed.  It was not the first time I failed at something, but it probably was the first time I publicly failed.  Meaning that there was no hiding it.  I was returning because it did not work out.  So what?  I still left.  I cared about being happy and that was not making me happy.  I was
22 years old. I was not wise beyond my years or anything like that.  In reality I was selfish.  I wanted what I wanted, and so I was changing my mind again.  Who cares what anyone thinks? Turns out, it was the right thing to do.  It was experience I would never take back, even if it ended in failure.  The same could be said for my first marriage...but that is material for another blog!

My dad used to tell me no one expected me to be a saint, but they did expect me not to be stupid.  So that is what I tell you dear friends.  Don’t be stupid.  This is your life, and it is the only one you get.  Do not make your choices based on what others are doing or saying they are doing.  Do not make choices based on what is expected of you.  But do stop yourself every once in awhile and think: “Is this the smart choice?”  Things can go wrong quickly, and you may find yourself in a situation you do not like very fast.  It doesn’t hurt to stop every once in a while and think: “Hold on, how many ways can this go wrong?” And I do not mean paralyze yourself with fear.  I mean being an adult is about making choices, they should be YOUR choices, but they should also be SMART choices.

Twenty years ago I left Puerto Rico and moved to Georgia for the first time.  I have had over 10 addresses and over 15 jobs.  I have lived many places, and I have done many things.  Good and bad.  I have made my share of good and bad choices.  Some of them I wish I never did (even some good ones). Some I would do again and again (even some bad ones).  In order to grow you must fail.  It is part of it.

There will be times in the next year when you will be sitting alone in your room...or not alone but lonely somewhere, and you will wonder why am I here?  Am I doing the right thing?  EVERYONE goes through that.  No matter where they are or what they are doing.  Find someone to talk it out with. Sit down and write about it.  Work it out.  If you need an older and wiser person who is not your mother to talk to, I am here for you.  Know this!  I will listen and I will not judge.  I am your friend, believe or not.


  1. This beats the pants off that crap "wear sunscreen" speech...

    PS: I don't need to sign this post, you know who I am.


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