You’re about to head down a new road, take a new turn. Sometimes you’ll have trouble finding the turn, but that’s why you have GPS. Your old parents had to stop at sketchy gas stations and ask for directions and even then continue to get lost. But anyway. When you begin, you might be overwhelmed by the choices: So many people who seem to know the way. So many careers that might be The Right One. So many credit cards that promise to give you breathing room.
Don’t believe them all. You have the answer, right in your gut. You will often know exactly what is true, what is right. Sometimes you won’t. When you don’t know, just wait. Breathe. Talk to people you trust (I hope that will sometimes include us, but I’m so glad you have a multitude of wise folks to talk to. Use them.) When you choose the wrong way, and you will, remember that there is always a way out. You may have to take down that old machete hanging on your bedroom wall and hack a path through the underbrush, but you can always, always find a way. And there is always, always someone who has also chosen that path. You only have to call out and find each other.
I wish I could show you the secret shortcut around pain, but there isn’t one. When the hurts come, know that heartache can leave you tender and bruised, but don’t let it break you. Let it be heartache, not heartbreak. You can bend and not shatter. There will be times when you will think that love will never be yours again. It will.
Sometimes you will ignore all the blinking lights and Road Work signs and will end up in a ditch because of your own mistakes. We will tow you out. People you love will pull you free. Friends will pick you up. The shadowy side of your brain will tell you you’ve messed up too much this time, that you’ve disappointed yourself and others. But there is no ditch too deep where Love cannot reach you. I once read the phrase, “You are hardwired for Hope.” You are. Hold onto that Hope even when life tells you you can’t. There is always morning and light, and you can begin again each day.
The most important things you learn when adulting will turn out to come from your goof-ups, slip-ups, hurts, mistakes. It won’t ever seem like it at the time, but it’s almost predictable how consistently it works. You will buy the wrong couch and live with its squeaky, ugly floral awfulness for years until you can afford another. And this one will be better. You will learn what to look for by what you didn’t know the first time around.
Most of all, as you walk into the world, don’t lose that sense of marvel at the magic all around you. It’s half-living to walk in a world where there's no mystery; where we can explain it all. It’s flat and one-dimensional to exist where there's no wonder, where we humans can take credit for everything. Because in the end, there is logic and there is laughter. There is data and there are dreams. There are maps and there are uncharted miles where footholds must be felt out, one at a time. You will find them. You already are. The view from the top is going to be amazing.