(Excerpts from advice I gave to my cousin during her senior year of high school)

1) Keep God first! If you always follow this suggestion, the rest should fall in place. You will go through some pretty rough times in life, but always remember that God has a master plan. Everything that you go through is purposeful and important to the master plan. This includes death, illness, loss of jobs, etc. Keep your eyes and ears on God and he will see you through anything. Pray about it!

2) Call your mother/father every day. It will help you to stay grounded and it will help them to know that you are doing well. You will be busy, but make time every day to stop and call.

3) Alcohol is not all that people make it out to be. If you choose to drink, 1) wait until you are 21– jail is not a fun place to visit and 2) go slow. Don’t drink so much that you lose your ability to control your actions. There will be LOTS of people who get to that point every time they drink. Those people are putting themselves in a lot of danger. Don’t trust that your friends who are also drinking will watch your back or protect you from being taken advantage of. They won’t!! Again, be careful!

4) Protect yourself!!!!!!!!!!!! This applies to every day life as well as in relationships. Protect your heart and your body. Make sure someone knows where you are going every time you leave your dorm room. If there is not someone to tell, write it down and leave it on your bed. If anything were to ever happen to you, that could be the best clue to find you. Also, sex is not all that people make it out to be. Pregnancy is not the only thing that can happen when you have unprotected sex. STDs are everywhere in college. Some of the STDs can not be cured! ALWAYS protect yourself!!!

5) Don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong. The strongest person admits when they are wrong and learns from it. You will be amazed how much easier it is to admit that you made a mistake than it is to cover it up. Be honest with yourself and every one else.

6) Listen to your gut. If you feel like something is not right, trust the feeling and get out of the situation as soon as possible!!

7) Never let them see you sweat. This was a tough lesson to learn for me, but basically, it goes like this: No one controls how you feel, but you! Don’t let someone else’s actions dictate how you feel. You can choose how you react to situations and how you allow yourself to feel about certain things. Most of the things that seem like HUGE deals in the moment, usually aren’t big deals at all. Step back and assess the situation before you freak out. Nothing drives someone more crazy than a smile when they expected to be able to devastate you! You control you!

8 ) Take care of your body. Exercise and eat well every day. Take a shower, comb your hair, and brush your teeth every day.

9) Be nice and kind to everyone. You don’t know what demons they are dealing with.

10) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This was also a very tough lesson for me to learn. Other people have a wealth of knowledge and ability that can make your life easier, if you just ask.

11) Try a variety of things before deciding on one. Don’t buy the first car that you test drive and and don’t marry the first guy you find. Check out a couple of models first.

12) Don’t be afraid to live outside of the box. Sometimes the most fun and innovative ideas are just outside of our inherent boundaries.

13) Always say “I love you!” before you leave or hang-up with the ones that you love. You never know if it might be the last time you will see or talk to them.

14) Give positive attention and praise to people as often as possible. “Good Job” and “Awesome” go a long way!

15) Always be prepared for the unexpected. People laugh at me when I go on trips because I usually have more luggage than anyone else. But when something happens, they always turn to me for help. I always pack medicine for headaches, stomach aches, and diarrhea. I always pack an extra outfit, with extra socks, underwear, and bras. When it is practical, bring water (at least one bottle) and some form of food (crackers, granola bar, etc). Have an umbrella handy, too. You just never know!

16) Respect the law!! There is no reason why you should purposefully break the law. Again, jail and prison are not fun and you should try at all times to keep from getting there. Make yourself aware of the laws in the states where you live and visit and respect them! Never run from a law enforcement officer and never agree to let them search your vehicle. Say “No, thank you” and, if they decide that they have probable cause to search it, they can get a search warrant before going into your vehicle. I know this sounds like weird advice, but just trust me.

Richard’s advice:

1) Always listen to Kristy

2) Always pee downhill

3) Never whiz on the electric fence

4) Never spit or pee into the wind.

(I am not sure why he is so focused on pee…)

Drew offers the following advice:

1) DANCE- Every time you hear music, DANCE!

2) Don’t be a bossy engine! (this is from Thomas the Tank Engine) Always remember your manners and say “Excuse me,” “Please,” “Thank you,” “Yes Ma’am/Sir,” and “No Ma’am/Sir”

3) Don’t always color within the lines or with the “correct” colors. Make your own boundaries!

4) HAVE FUN!!!

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