Auntie Says…ANGP? Tis the season.

It means All Night Grad Party. I know, I know, you don’t need a lecture about safety, drinking, drugs, or making smart choices. After all, you’re a senior and about to graduate…you know it all.
I also know that every year a parent is met at the door by a police officer and told that their graduating teen is dead or injured because of an accident at some bush party or a choice made to get behind the wheel drunk or stoned. There’s also the lifetime sentences caused by alcohol/drug fueled sexual assaults, permanent disfigurement from a crash, fights, or humiliation through video and social media.
Take a second…stop and think. Don’t get so caught up in the build-up and “tradition” of all night parties that you lose perspective that you’re graduating so you can start a new life…not end it.
I’m not saying that you can’t party. That’d be unrealistic just make sure you do some planning and be smart. So, here’s a check list for you.
1.)  Know who you’re with. That sound so simple and straight forward, but you’d be surprised how many young people will get into cars with a group of strangers all because there’s a common theme of ‘party’. Stick with your friends and make a decision together to stay that way. Keep an eye on each other. That’s what friends do.
2.)   Know where you are. Again, this sounds so simple, but if you’re going to a bush party in the middle of nowhere, for example, the roads all look the same at night and you could easily get lost. Do you have enough gas in the car? Also, will you still have cell service?If you’re out of range then it’s even more important to pay attention to point #1.
3.)   Know who your DD is. Every time you go out you need a designated driver. If you have a group of friends then you can rotate and switch it up. If you’re in town, make sure you have someone to call. I don’t care if it’s the third cousin of your best friends brother in law…have someone reliable and mature enough to pick you up if trouble surfaces.
Note to parents/aunties/friends: If you have an agreement with a young person to call you **no matter what time or circumstance** to pick them up…just do it. Don’t lecture or judge or ground because believe me, next time they won’t call.
4.)   “No” means No….that goes for everyone…male, female, or otherwise.
5.)   Drugs, to me, are a loud resounding no. If you’re at a party, you need to know what’s going on around you and not be so hammered that you can’t see straight. With so many pills, and even marijuana, being laced with fentanyl, it could be the end. That would really suck.
6.)   Are you going to the ANGP to be part of the crowd or because you want to? The parties aren’t mandatory and are not a rite of passage. They’re a reason to get drunk, act stupid, and make an ass of yourself. Think about it.
7.)   Don’t forget…it’ll all be recorded for prosperity. Do you want your boss to see you passed out? or you Auntie to see you naked and running through the fields. Umm…I hope your answer is no…’nuf said.
8.)  Find an alternative to the ANGP. Grad committees did this by adding in and supporting Dry Grad. There are many ways to celebrate and have fun with your friends without getting wasted and putting yourself (and possibly others), in harms way.
9.)  Don’t be a statistic. You don’t want to be that roadside memorial tribute with the fake flowers and half filled balloon flopping in the wind. A dead teenager kills all their potential. Get it?
10.)  Last, but definitely not least…have some respect for yourself and others. Stop and think about how your actions, words, and choices are a reflection of who you are and how they can affect another.
Have fun, but be safe.

 

*First Published on June 16, 2017 by Black Press

Auntie Says…Graduating? Now what?

So here you are at the end of a 13 year journey.You’ve completed about 11,650 hours of classroom time, spread over 2430 days (give or take), done countless exams, and performed who knows how many fire drills. It’s been quite a ride but now, the grad caps have been tossed in celebration, the prom gowns will soon be hung, and the tuxes returned…it’s over…the final bell has rung.
It started off with such wide-eyed curiosity and wonder. Do you remember the thrill of going to kindergarten? Entering those doors as a five year old was one of your earliest steps towards true independence. It may have been the first time away from your mom and dad, and it was probably a new experience having to follow instructions whist trying to harness the energy and excitement of the life going on around you.
I’m sure there were good times, and maybe even a few not so good times, but you made it. Hopefully, your school days will now be memories of the songs you sang, the games you played, and the friendships you’ve nurtured. It’s said to be one of the best times of your life, but that’s not true for all. Graduating from the hallowed halls for some means getting out of the hell hole and finally away from the bullies, the jocks, and the masses you’re forced to contend with everyday.
Well, let me tell you…whether you attended high school kicking and screaming all the way, or were the kid who skipped down the hallway with a silly grin plastered across their face, the real world is now open for business…and it’s all yours.
Are you excited? I hope so. I’m excited for you because high school is like a small little pond and your future is the ocean.
Just think about it. For the last 13 years you’ve spent your days with many of the same people, not out of choice, but out of the dictation of catchment areas and random (and sometimes not so random) classroom assignments. You’re put into a situation where you must befriend those around you or be completely ostracized. Your life has been structured by the school agenda, but now everything you’ve known and relied on for so many years, will change.
It’s a thrilling time of your life and it can be a little overwhelming too as personal choice actually kicks into gear…full throttle.
You need to exercise wisdom, common sense, and at first, walk slowly through your new world to avoid falling victim to accidents and impulsive decision making that can lead you into trouble.
Go forward with your own sense of wide-eyed curiosity like when you started kindergarten, knowing that pitfalls and life lessons await.There will be broken hearts, empty bank accounts, and shattered dreams, but there’ll also be the beauty of a sunset, the realization of a goal, and the growing of your soul and spirit.
For several years now, you’ve been surrounded by the same faces, attitudes, and struggles. Will that continue? Only you can answer that.
Often when you separate physically from a group, you can choose to lose touch and go your own way. You can declare your independence and freedom from all things high school and forage out a new identity if that’s what you want.
Many young people blossom in college because they’re free to choose not only their educational path, but also their friends and cohorts. Even staying in touch by means of social media may hold you back in the high school mentality, as the cliques and inherent insecurities never really change…the “popular girl” will always be that in your mind. Do you want to read her status and always feel like you’re back ‘there’?
You’ve got the world waiting for you. It’s there with all it’s opportunity and potential. Hard work and perseverance can guide you in your pursuits.
Congratulations on getting through the 13 years…now go forth and conquer!

*First published on July 14, 2017 by Black Press