Once A Wildcat, Always A Wildcat

So there’s actually not a wikihow on what to post on a blog about growing up, just FYI.

As I mentioned in my post last night/extremely early this morning, my younger brother graduated today. I did the sisterly thing and sat through the whole ceremony without complaining once about how boring it was or the that the gym was approximately 1500 degrees, Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin, you choose. I didn’t even text during it (whattttt).  He, along with many of my close friends and family, started their lives post high school today, and boy are they in for a surprise.

One of our friends was in a horrible car accident about three weeks ago and was life flighted to Vanderbilt, our closest trauma hospital. No one was sure she would live, and she was expected to be at Vandy for at least a month. On Thursday she went home after being in a rehab facility close to home for a week, and today she was rolled in a wheel chair to receive her diploma with a thunderous round of applause. She doesn’t know it, but she is one of the bravest and strongest people I know and she gave me some fantastic advice while I was in high school.

My best friend also graduated today. I have known her since before she was born, and she’s 11 months younger than me. Every female in our family was born on the fifth by coincidence (including my soon to be sister-in-law and both of our female dogs), and so was my best friend. She might as well be my sister. We have been through so much together from playing softball together when we were 3/4, to flying for the first time together at 11/12, all the way to being on the academic team and marching band together in middle/high school. I love her dearly and she really will do great things. We’re actually house sitting together for two weeks this summer, so our many shenanigans will be shared here.

Much of the ceremony was filled with the standard sentiments, you have a bright future, you’ll do great things, education is key to blah blah blah, etc., etc.

Seeing as my graduation was many many…. months ago, I actually found a lot of the sentiments funny. I thought I would use this post to write a letter to my younger brother on what I’ve learned in the past year and what he can expect to experience in his time out of high school. Feel free to laugh at how naive I probably am at this time, but remember, this is only to get him through the first year.

Dear Tyler,

Congrats. You finally did it. You made it. You graduated high school. As your older sister who many people thought was your twin your whole life, I have a little bit of advice you should listen to.

1. Go to college. You haven’t applied anywhere and that is a problem. Yeah, Mom, Dad, and Derek didn’t go to college and they have pretty good jobs now, but those were different times. We weren’t in a recession, people were actually hiring back then, and they were just plain lucky. Now, even with a college degree, people are struggling to find jobs. Plus, the longer you’re in school, the longer you can avoid getting an actual job and you can mooch off of Mom and Dad (I mean, I DID apply for a summer job to get Dad off of my back, but I probably won’t get hired).

2. Don’t major in history. I know you. You won’t write all of the papers necessary nor will you study as much as you need to. I got a B in Western Civ after studying my ass off and missing 47 of 800 possible points that whole semester. Yeah I know, you like history, but remember how I liked math? You. Will. Not. Enjoy. It.

3. Major in something with computers. As I type, you are over there on your computer doing who knows what, and that’s all you do. You and Owen create games, and you laugh while doing it. You. Enjoy. It.

4. You don’t necessarily have to go to Western. BG Tech is just as great for a computer degree and it’s faster. Plus, it’s not as overwhelming and it doesn’t cost as much.

5. Life is Hell. With great spots in it. It’s full of hard work and unfairness and everything we were taught but not exactly exposed to while growing up. The best part is that now you get to choose what you do with that. And whatever you do, be happy. You were not born to wander around and hate life all of the time. You are such an intelligent kid and you need to put it to use with whatever you do. Find something you love and do it. No matter who says what. No matter if Mom and Dad support you or not. Because I will be behind you, ten-million percent. I will do whatever is needed so that you can live your life. Need money? Ask me. Need a place to stay in BG overnight? Ask me. Need advice? I’ll try my best. Want to go to the Godzilla movie and need a ride? Well you can ask me, but I’ll probably tell you to find a friend and I’ll meet up with someone while you watch it.

6. You can come to me at anytime for advice or for a hug or for whatever. I know you didn’t need it in high school (I didn’t either), but in comes college and it’s *in Aladdin theme*  A WHOLE NEW WOOOOORLD. Remember that I’m going through everything that you’re going through a year ahead of you. And if I’m not going through it I bet I have a trustworthy friend with great advice for you.

7. Come back to the high school and visit the few teachers that you loved. They cared for you for 4+ years and they want to know how you’re doing. Better yet, add them on Facebook so they can check it out in real-time. Ask them for advice, they were in your same place back however many years ago. They seem to have figured out at least that much of life.

8. Get out of the house sometimes. Hang out with friends. Make new friends with new ideas. Challenge these ideas. Challenge your ideas. Go to a place alone that is quiet. Look at the Earth and how beautiful it is. Enjoy it. There were times that I couldn’t sleep at night so I hiked up Western’s hill at 4 a.m. to watch the sunrise. It was absolutely beautiful.

9. You’re basically an adult now, make adult decisions. Accept the consequences like an adult. If you want to go to that party, go to it. But by all means realize that you can’t drink and drive or do anything else stupid.

10. Have pride in your upbringing. Yes, we were raised in small town Kentucky and were only allowed to have one point of view or else we were communists or the like. Yes, we all had to go to church and we all had to attend 1 of 2 elementary schools, but the same 5/6 center, middle school, and high school. Yes for the last 17 years you couldn’t speak your mind to Mom or Dad or Mamaw without being yelled at for backtalking. Yes everyone knew our business before we even knew it. Yes we received an average level of education from most of our teachers, but there were the few that will always stick with us. Yes all of this and more. But also, Yes we were raised to respect our elders. Yes we were raised to put God first then family above everything else. Yes we were raised to respect everyone unless we wanted to get spanked. Yes we were raised that if life got us down to get up again and to dust ourselves off and continue with our scrapes. I like to think of us, Tyler, as big city people who were raised with the best small town values. Take pride in our county and in our school. “Once A Wildcat, Always A Wildcat”, it’s even on your graduation program.

I guess here is where I put in that Dr. Seuss quote: “Congratulations! You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”,  except that I don’t want to do that because that overused quote is not good enough for you.

Tyler, high school was only one chapter in your amazing life. So many people make it the best chapter in their life, but my challenge to you is to make it one great chapter in your book of thousands of fantastic ones.

One song comes to mind as I sit here rereading and rereading trying to figure out what I have left out, A Talk With George, by Jonathan Coulton. You should listen to it sometime. It is pretty inspiring in my opinion. 


I love you more than anything else in the world, kid. Take that and run with it.


Your Big Sister


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