This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of my disastrous high school graduation party. Thinking back now, that one night really set the tone for my life after high school. (Which is sad, because straight-line winds caused my basement to flood and things kind of went to heck the whole night.)

Things going to heck over the course of the past four years just means I have learned a thing or two.

With high school graduations fast approaching, including my brother, the baby of the Vatnsdal family, walking across the stage this Sunday, there are a few pieces of, er, wisdom I'd like to pass along to the class of 2019.

Bring on the pomp and circumstance ,and please think of the song while reading this. It's been running through my head the entire time I've been writing, so we should suffer together. It's time to walk across that stage and get that piece of paper you worked so hard for.

This one goes out to all of the soon-to-be-high school graduates and — because I am realistic and know many high schoolers don't read this lovely column, which they should — parents of those students. I know the next few weeks will be stressful and emotional, but I promise, your baby birds are ready to fly the coop.

So make sure you're wearing dress pants under your robes, pay all your high school fines and remember to throw the cap and not the gown. It's graduation time and here are five things to remember as you begin the next chapter in life, whatever that may be.

As Dr. Seuss said, "You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go."

Emma Vatnsdal / The Forum
Emma Vatnsdal / The Forum

Kiss some butt

If there's one thing I have learned in my post-high school life is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with sucking up a bit.

Yes, this may sound a bit wishy-washy, but hear me out: sucking up can get you very far. Now, you don't have to go all out and offer to wash someone's car or help them move — unless you really like washing cars and moving, and then we should probably have a talk — but offering a compliment and a smile when you see a professor, boss or manager can do a lot. Ask how their weekend was, if their mother is doing well and basically pay attention to their lives and make them feel like they're the most important person in the room.

But don't just suck up to your boss. Suck up to everyone you see. Really, just be nice. Be pleasant. People like nice people. Attitude is everything. And that small step can sometimes mean the difference between getting that job or getting that grade.

GPA isn't everything

I'm going to let all of the college-bound graduates in on a little secret: GPA isn't everything.

More often than not, students are taught that to get a job after college, your grade-point average should be at about a 6 on a 4-point scale. According to a 2015 article written for LinkedIn, that really isn't the case anymore because more companies are looking at things other than GPA.

Quality over quantity (or few activities, but big success in those activities) on a resume, a passion for something that began at a young age and mental agility are now more important than ever.

So join a club and do great things in that club. Figure out what you're passionate about. Become a fast learner and never stop being curious.

Keep an open mind

Leaving home is already a scary thing, but leaving home when you have a closed mind is even scarier.

This applies not only to new experiences — which it does because why would you want to miss out on doing something fun? — but also to people. Whatever the next step is, you're going to meet new and exciting people. Some of them may be a bit odd, and some of them you may dislike at first, but keeping an open mind allows you to find a good friend or resource in someone you would have never thought.

Besides, the "weirdos" are usually the most fun.

Ask for help

We all need help every now and again. There's no shame in admitting it.

Whether you're struggling financially or academically, physically or mentally, ask for help. There's always someone to talk to who will listen. Find a friend, call your siblings or talk to a teacher.

It's one of the hardest things you can do, but it's also one of the best. There's nothing wrong with needing a bit of help.

Call your mom

Or your dad, or your big sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandma or weird neighbor. They spent 18 years loving you and raising you, and they should get to know how you're doing.

Tell them about your classes and how your professor doesn't wear an undershirt beneath his white dress shirts, or let them know what you're doing at your new job — just talk to them (for something other than asking for money). Leaving home doesn't mean leaving the family. Give them a call, even if it's once a week.


Friday 5 is a weekly column featuring musings, quick tips, tricks, ideas and more — all in bunches of five.