School stuff’s easy. People stuff is hard.
What I’m saying is this: Getting an F on a test means it’s a detour. You have failed in specific, identifiable ways; given time and effort, that F is something you can fix.
When we fail each other, we don’t get a grade. No rubric with lots of little red marks saying, “This is what went wrong with that conversation,” or “Here’s how you make a friend.” No study guide, either – every person is different. There is no way to plan in advance how to win everyone over.
So what do you do? People are everywhere, and life as a hermit is a bit hard to swing these days – every remote mountaintop or cave is already taken. (Besides, no plumbing can be a dealbreaker.)
See, it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s okay to mess up. You’re going to have to be okay with messing up because there will be so many times in your life that you do mess up. And if you’re not yet okay with messing up, that’s okay, too.
You are not at war. I hope you aren’t, most days.
When it comes down to it, we’re these funny creatures bumbling around, making stuff and then tearing it down. We put metal on our teeth and ink under skin, running races for fun and inventing recipes. Sometimes we get in tiny winged machines and we hurtle ourselves through the sky, into space, into someone else’s atmosphere. We do it all very bravely.
My advice? Be generous with yourself. Test your limits. Make mistakes, and practice forgiving yourself. We all have our good days and our off days, so celebrate the times when my good day and yours line up perfectly.
Get to know what you will not stand for. You have every right to say no, don’t treat me like this. On the flip side, you’d better be ready to listen when someone says the same thing to you.
This is only four years of your life – maybe more, maybe less. Some of you will hate it here and some of you will love it. But I can guarantee that all of us will be pinball-bouncing off each other daily, and at least some of what we make together will stick.
School stuff’s easy, man. People stuff’s hard. Good luck out there, and I hope you find some good folks for your own, the ones worth the risk.