Just weeks remain in our summer season and for families preparing to send a loved one off to their freshman year in college, the clock is ticking. Within our Chun Ji martial arts family, we are saying congratulations and best wishes to a young woman heading north to Boston for her first year at college. Our school celebrated her graduation from high school with her family in June. We presented her with a downy cold-weather coat for those snowy Boston winters, and I also wrote some thoughts in a notebook to take with her. Later I was asked what I wrote to her; our school members care about this person whom we saw grow up in a martial arts uniform from eight years old and become wicked smart, leading her school to debate competitions while kicking it up in Taekwondo class in the evenings. Since I would probably share my words with any young adult headed off on life’s next adventure called college, I share them with you. I believe we can be endless and bountiful in providing our encouragement, trust and support to this generation – our future – to know that we are behind them and will be there in some way, shape or form through good times and bad.
“We have no doubt that you are ready and prepared for this adventure that takes you away from the comfort of home and places you into unknown territory. You will experience highs and lows of life; you will learn what you are made of and what you need to learn in order to find your own balance in life. There will be a terrific range of emotions! Excitement and maybe fear of not knowing what’s ahead; the nervousness and anticipation of meeting new people and finding the right ‘fit’ of people who you want to share in this journey with you. You will probably experience some loneliness from missing your family and high school friends. Know that many people close to you have gone through similar highs and lows, and know that it’s a necessary process of growing in life. You are not alone.
To help guide you in this adventure, remember these things:
• “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” The bumps in the road are temporary and smooth sailing will inevitably come. The key is recognizing this cycle and finding ways to return to the bright side of life.
• “Don’t think you can, know you can.” This is one of my favorite lines from the Matrix. Don’t doubt who you are and what you can do. Give yourself credit for taking a step and trying.
• “Try everything once.” If you don’t like it, don’t do it again. I get a lot of opportunity to travel, which means I experience situations outside of my comfort zone…eating unusual foods, participating in local customs. In some cases, your host may have put a month’s salary on the dinner table for a local delicacy in his culture. You may not think it, but it may be a great honor for the host to be serving it to you. Find grace in these moments.
• If you are unhappy, take some time to reflect on what is causing it. Take a walk, write it out, talk it out, go find a bag to beat on. Find ways to cope and deal and overcome. Some periods you will think you have it so together and then other times you couldn’t feel more square. It is normal. Periods of frustration can be celebrated after the fact…these are the moments where you grow. You have a good circle of people around you and a good head on your shoulders; someone will always be there to listen, support or take the punches from you.
The love that a child places in his or her parent’s heart is almost unfathomable until you can feel it for yourself. We have walked alongside of you as you grew up, wowed us with your intelligence, your spunk, your positive outlook, your hardwork and discipline. We are rewarded to see you head off to a great school and we share in this excitement with you. Take it all in…and on occasion, stop where you stand, turn your head and do a 360, look around you, and revel in where you are, who you are and what you are becoming. The rest comes naturally.”