Advice to the Class of 2013: Guest Post by @SeanHCole

by Guest Author, Sean H. Cole

Advice to the Class of 2013

As you finish your school career and embark in the next phase of your life, I thought I’d share some advice with you.

  1. You don’t have to lead a conventional life. You don’t need a conventional relationship, or a conventional job, or a conventional family, or conventional values. Too many people get to the middle of their lives before they realise this.
  2. It’s never too late to make a change. Habits of thought and action are hard to break, but they can be broken. (You’ll know its time for a change when your old habits start making you miserable.)
  3. If you don’t like it, fix it. If you can’t fix it, live with it. If you can’t live with it, get rid of it.
  4. Be kind to people. At the end of it all, success is not a figure in a bank account, it is a life well lived. And a life well lived is one where compassion features heavily.
  5. Compare yourself to people you admire. Admire people for what they do, and what they know – not for what they look like or what they’re selling.
  6. Be open to new ideas and experiences. Too many people funnel their existences into ever narrower little worlds. Travel, read, think, talk to people and take the time to reflect on lessons learnt.
  7. Try to have at least one big thought a day.
  8. Don’t ever say you love someone when you don’t. And don’t let others do the same to you. Real love is in your actions, not your words – and it is more often a deep friendship than sentimental cards and meaningless gifts.
  9. Don’t judge people too quickly.
  10. If you let other people’s opinion of you guide who you are, then they are always right about you.
  11. Make a little bit of time to exercise – at least three times a week.
  12. Be wary of putting too much of anything into your body: alcohol, carbs, fast foods, soft drinks and prescription pills can be very bad for you in the long run. The exception to this bit of advice is cheese – you can never have too much cheese.
  13. Don’t be afraid to be silly from time to time.
  14. Don’t be swept away by what’s in fashion. Learn to spot what’s timeless and has lasting value: whether this is clothes, gadgets, music, furniture or even your concept of beauty.
  15. Don’t watch too much tv. You’ll know it’s too much when that’s all you have to talk about with friends and colleagues.
  16. Be critical of the information that comes your way. Especially if someone is making money off of it in some way. Realise this: easy fixes and shortcuts are always scams.
  17. Always assume the best of people… until they prove you wrong. But also, don’t be afraid to give them a second chance. (And only a second chance – if you give them a third, you’re just a doormat.)
  18. Be kind to animals.
  19. Be patient with the elderly.
  20. Just because your car might be bigger or newer or faster or more expensive doesn’t entitle you to use the roads more than anyone else. Be courteous and be careful.
  21. Look after your teeth.
  22. Try not to spread negativity at work. Blowing off some steam is fine, from time to time, but constant complaining and bickering marks you as someone to avoid.
  23. Don’t be afraid to change jobs and even careers a few times while you are young.
  24. Try to invest in property as soon as you can.
  25. Respect your boss. Until you are the boss.
  26. Take up a hobby that involves some kind of physical activity. This helps you to get away from yourself from time to time.
  27. Don’t look down on other people. The cleaner, the tea lady, the maintenance guy and the driver are vital to the functioning of any workplace. And they always know the juiciest bits of gossip.
  28. You don’t have to have children to leave a legacy.
  29. Don’t be afraid to apologise when you get it wrong.
  30. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong.
  31. Rather face the potential consequences for doing something after the fact than be paralyzed into inaction. Life is too short to be a photographer – be a part of the action.
  32. Help where you can. Walk away when you need to.
  33. Spend time with your parents. Later in life you’ll be so glad you did.
  34. Realise that you’ll never get to ride this roller coaster again. Its a one time thing. Try to have fun and make it worthwhile.

Videos to show students

Have you got any advice you want to add? (Please feel free to add your ideas in the comment box below.)

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photo (1)Sean Hampton-Cole teaches / unteaches at a liberal high school in South Africa. Visit his blog at: or look him up on Twitter at

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