The do’s and don’ts of growing up

Leslie Arntz

The path has been clear and easy to follow for the past 18 years: preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, high school, college. Now I’m faced with adulthood.

I’m thinking about joint filing taxes next spring, dental plans, grocery store floor plans and flatware. But I know I’m leaving here prepared – not just with a degree, but with a long list of know-how to get through . whatever.

• You are two steps ahead in the game simply by showing up. You’ll figure the rest out when you get there.

• Grammar and spelling go a long way. Learn the difference between titled and entitled. Anxious and eager aren’t the same. Backward doesn’t need an “s.” Their, they’re, there. Pair, pear, pare! Pay attention to how you write and present yourself. Your bosses, peers and professors will know you’re meticulous and thorough, and most importantly, that you care.

• Know yourself. Office work is boring, and I love it. Don’t think your career will fulfill you. You’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. You’ll never see my byline anywhere remarkable. I will never be a journalistic “great.” I will always work hard, but my job will never consume me.

• Don’t follow up one bad decision with another. As a senior in high school, I finally left a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship. Every day for three years, I made the bad decision to stay in that relationship. In one night, I set my life’s course in a new direction and never looked back. I found a man who paid no lip service to the faith he lived out every day. Brian, you accepted me even when I was a mess. Thank you.

• Love is a decision. Too many people lose the butterflies in the stomach, head-over-heels feeling and call it quits. Don’t be tugged around by your emotions. They’re up, down and all around. The butterflies are going to float away, and all you’ll be left with is the decision you made. Did you commit to the person or to the emotions you attached to that person? Humans are going to fail you. Constantly. But loving someone means sticking with them, even when it’s difficult – especially when it’s difficult.

• Ask the hard questions of yourself before anyone else does. There are hundreds of Christian colleges designed and structured to help prepare you to live your faith in the rest of society. I’d rather prepare to live out my faith in the rest of society by being part of that society. I’m glad I chose Kent State.

I’ve been challenged every day. I’ve been exposed to people of every religion, creed and lifestyle. I’ve learned to understand different points of view without it changing mine. I’m forced to deal with people whose decisions and worldviews directly contradict my own. And boy, did they try to change that. Often, professors and students had a difficult time accepting that opinions they disagreed with are included under the umbrella of diversity.

One of my best experiences was going to a luncheon to meet John Stossel and being seated next to two people who wrote harsh e-mails in response to my columns. After some awkwardness, we started talking freely and respectfully about our different viewpoints. We were each surprised that the other nowhere near resembled the caricatures that had developed in our minds. It reinforced one of the most important positions someone can adopt:

• Always value human beings as individuals, and treat them as such. You are more than the collective of your ideas.

Leslie Arntz is a senior magazine journalism major and Web editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].