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A letter to students

1. You are awesome. Be confident in who you are. I promise you’ll meet people who are smarter than you, and that’s OK. You don’t have to be the smartest person—oddly enough, sometimes being the smartest person is difficult. I also promise that you will be smarter than most. Enjoy that; while being smart isn’t everything, it is definitely something. Be confident in your intelligence, but not arrogant. I’ve found that, most of the time, being arrogant backfires on you. That leads into point two…

Woodward Academy

2. Sometimes it takes more courage and intelligence to be silent than to speak. It took me a long time to understand and respect silence. I’m still learning that it’s a mark of maturity and, most of the time, intelligence. Also, respect everyone’s differences and challenge yourself to learn about them.

3. Never stop learning. I don’t mean that in a teacher way, I mean it in a learning life sort of way. You are constantly growing, maturing, and developing, so enjoy it. Life is a condition to which no one is immune. We learn something every day. Our taste in music, food, TV, and the people we surround ourselves with evolves. It’s natural for these preferences to change. I wasted a lot of time trying to be someone I wasn’t because I thought I was supposed to be someone else.

To complete number three, you need to invest in number four…

4. Spend time with yourself. Since you’ve been in my class, I’ve learned how

amazing you are, each in your own way. If you sit and spend time with you, I think you’ll feel the same way. I’m such a people person, but sometimes the best thing is time alone with great music, a book, TV, or whatever. As cheesy as this sounds, be your own best friend. The sooner you learn that all of your faults and idiosyncrasies are what make you awesome, the sooner you will be a better person and enjoy life so much more. That leads to number five…

5. Everyone has faults. With the advent of social media, I sometimes find myself comparing my faults with everyone else’s highlights. Scrolling through your Twitter feed (or Snapchat or TikTok), you see people lauding their accomplishments, great times, and great friends. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, as long as you understand that what you see on social media is an incomplete picture. If you compare all of your faults to those highlights, you may feel a bit inadequate. Everyone has faults, so embrace yours. Grow from them and know that they add to what makes you you. And remember, you’re awesome.

6. Surround yourself with people who love you and think you’re great (but also who know and accept your faults). You need this. If someone won’t accept you for who you are, ask yourself if you really need that relationship (be it friends or more).

7. Smile. Every day. I’m not getting into the psychology of it all, but it could possibly make you happier and healthier. It works. Trust me.

8. Don’t trust people just because they say, “trust me.” Still...

9. Trust people. It’s endearing. I know this is very contradictory, but it’s true. Even though “trust me” should raise flags, trusting people means you are human and we all need people we can trust.

10. I’ve saved one of the most important tips for last: Be happy. Genuinely happy.

Choose a profession that pays the bills and makes you want to go to work most days. You won’t be happy every day. You will have bad days, weeks and maybe even months, but you’ll be generally happy. Money will not, in the end, make you happy.

One of the greatest pieces of advice my Dad ever gave me was to make great memories. Good and bad, and all kinds in between, they are all part of our life.

So make them good ones and remember that you are part of other’s memories so make sure they are positive, too.

I have to end this the way my mother ended most of our conversations when I was in high school and college. Make good choices. (I repeat this often to my own kids.)

Lori Fenzl, Upper School social studies teacher