As College Begins, A Conversation About Time-honored Clichés & Proverbial Wisdom

Fawn sleeping in our Pachysandra. Posted here just because.

Here’s a fun conversation I had with a friend.

Friend’s youngest child, a girl, is going to college this fall.  Friend and husband didn’t go to college and their other children either didn’t go to college or lived at home while pursuing a degree.

Friend, who knows I went away to college and lived in the dorms [oh yes I did], was asking what advice would I give to her daughter.

Based on my experiences.

During the Dark Ages.

The question stumped me. I mean, it was soooo long ago, and while I admit that going away to college and living in the dorms helped define who I am today, my immediate answer was the somewhat less than articulate: I DUNNO.

Friend, of course, was taking none of that nonsense so together we got talking about time-honored clichés & proverbial wisdom.  You know, the things we say to each other, meant to be inspiration or balm for the soul, as we listen to each other’s woes and joys.

Eventually we realized that our advice could be put into five categories.  We might be phrasing things differently, but we were saying the same basic five ideas over and over again.  They are as follows.

BE WARY: take care don’t be a pawn in someone else’s game make no assumptions ask yourself, where is the lie?

BE YOURSELF: follow your dreams reach for the stars  well-behaved women rarely make history define yourself

DO YOUR BEST: never give up if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again the same fire that consumes the straw, refines the gold positive begets positive

PEOPLE SUCK: stupid is an iceberg no matter what, someone will take it too seriously never make as your priority someone who considers you optional “no” is a complete sentence

OH WELL, WHATEVER: don’t let the seeds stop you from enjoying the watermelon tomorrow is another day  build a bridge, get over it plans change, often

QUESTION OF THE DAY

What did we forget? What else should be here?

Do tell, in the comments below. 

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

90 thoughts on “As College Begins, A Conversation About Time-honored Clichés & Proverbial Wisdom”

  1. I hate the old… “See the glass as half full” baloney. No, it’s half empty and please refill my margarita, damn it.
    As for people sucking, so many of them do and sometimes there’s no better way to say it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. rivergirl1211, yes, I’ve never liked that saying either. It seems dismissive rather than helpful. Good idea to fill in it with a margarita. And yes, people be sucky. No way around it. *sigh*

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    2. Had to chime in – we have modified the glass analogy to just say “hey the glass will go up and down in conetent – be prepared and refresh when patched and give more when near the top or overflowing – but know it should and will have different amounts”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Be wary: the time-honored “Question authority.”

    Do your best: it’s not how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get up . . . that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

    People Suck: Don’t start none, won’t be none (my new favorite) . . . don’t argue with an idiot.

    Oh well, Whatever: Don’t worry, be happy (cue the music).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Zen-Den, these are great. We should have gotten you involved in the conversation. I, too, am currently in love with: don’t start none, won’t be none. A threat , a promise, a reality. 🤨

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  3. Let me give you personal experience here Ally B with the words (now looking back) that I would give my kids: “Take all the classes that interest you and some sort of general degree plan. Don’t settle on any one thing until after you graduate. There are too many possibilities for your future and you WILL change your mind…often.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, that’s sound advice. I was in a liberal arts program that stressed general knowledge in a wide variety of subjects so that when we graduated we’d be comfortable and conversant no matter where we landed. I worry about some of these kids today who narrow their academic focus so much that they only know one small thing, in depth, when they graduate. Seems unnecessarily limiting to me.

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  4. I did my college while working with a full time job and maintaining a home so my case was different. My only advice would be to not latch onto the first person who smiles at you. Make many friends first, then chose who your bestie is. You have covered everything else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, that’s excellent advice. So true. I’ve heeded that advice when I’ve gone to conventions, knowing that the first person who I meet could very well not be who I need to know.

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  5. It is rewarding (always lots of activity/energy) yet frustrating to live around a bunch of people. They won’t always be considerate of your things, your time or your sleep. However, if you want company, there is usually someone around. I would warn myself about the freshman(in my case sophomore) 15. I couldn’t resist pizza and all the munchies that abounded. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, I agree about the frustrations of living around people. I was in co-ed dorms for most of my years in college and the noise level was something else. I gained weight when I first went away to college, but I think that’s part of the learning process. And at that age it comes off right quick if you want it to.

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  6. Great list! Especially “never make as your priority someone who considers you optional.”

    Don’t buy too much stuff. ~> that might be better advice for a college graduate but it is the one thing I wish I had known when just “starting out.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nancy, some of this advice was sayings we’d heard along the way and that was one of them. Too much stuff is a problem for incoming freshmen as well as college graduates. The things these kids HAVE to have is amazing; they do not lack for any creature comforts. 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

  7. All great pieces of advice Ally! I have a couple of nuggets to add:

    Remember where you come from & that how you conduct yourself is reflection of who we are as a family.

    Be wary of what gets posted to social media. When it comes time to find employment, your employer may not view the shenanigans of the kegger in the same light!

    Have the best time, get involved & don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, even just a little.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lynn, I like your nuggets of advice. They all make sense, especially “the shenanigans of the kegger” one. You’re right about stepping outside your comfort zone– try a few new things, learn about something new.

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  8. Although this wasn’t something my parents had to say when I went off to college: don’t spend too much time looking at a little screen when there is a whole world out there to enjoy in real time. Oh, and nothing you do nowadays is private… everyone has a camera and is using it. Pictures of all your bad decisions will be available to potential employers and future spouse. I loved the one about not prioritizing people who consider you optional. I wish I had learned that sooner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, yes, screens seem to dominate the every moment and breath of kids. I agree with you, look around the world and enjoy it in real time. That’s a great suggestion. I didn’t learn the not prioritizing piece of advice until I was older, too. Maybe that knowledge comes with age…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Love all those things. My favorite is “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and loved more than you know.” No one in our family went away to college until our youngest did. All we told her was that we were proud of her, we knew she could do it and that we were there for her if she needed us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, that’s a good saying. I’ve read that before somewhere, but couldn’t tell you where. It’s sound advice. You make a good point about how telling a child that you’re proud of them can be all the “advice” that’s needed.

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          1. I’m re-reading it for a challenge I’m doing this month. I haven’t read it since the kids were little so I’m looking forward to it. I know there are other gems in there.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Tara, good question to ask yourself in college and thereafter. I like your simple advice that cuts to the point of it all. The fawn was cooperative when I snapped the pic, much to my surprise.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great list! I’d say try stuff. Try weird stuff. Take a class that sounds odd. Attend a meeting of a group you usually wouldn’t. Always let someone know where you are going to be (more of a safety tip but still . . .)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lacey, good advice. I wish I’d tried more stuff in college. I was focused on learning what I was supposed to be learning so that I didn’t branch out too much– although being in a liberal arts university variety was foisted on us through requirements. But on my own, not so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Seek support when you need it.
    My youngest goes to a tough, well-respected college. Unfortunately, depression and Suicide show up when kids discover they are no longer the smartest person in the room. Find the social, and if necessary psychological, help you need to thrive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. KDKH, excellent point. Seeking support, both psychological and social, is something that we didn’t think of at all. You’re right, I know kids have a difficult time when they think their self-worth hangs on their grades & the academic competition gets tougher.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. marian, I didn’t heed that advice either. I took learning seriously when I was in college and didn’t enjoy the process as much as I should have. I did enjoy quite a few keggers, but that’s a different story. 😎

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  12. All good advice (as long as you remember that she might not take any of it! 🙂 ) I have nothing to add as I didn’t go to college… well, not that sort, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Val, you are so right, advice, while good, might not be heeded. And you know what? That’s ok by me. Everyone travels his or her own path in life. This girl will do great regardless of what we tell her!

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  13. I had a terrible time with roommates assigned to me in the dorm. This may not apply to your friend’s daughter, of course, but talking to my younger self I would say: be the solution, not the problem. Don’t take it all so seriously. And don’t forget to take long walks in nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eilene, I had a whole cast of characters as my roommates. Some of the girls I clicked with, but they dropped out of college. Others were stories from hell. I like your be the solutions, not the problem idea. That translate into adult life, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I dunno (ha!). Sage advice has never really inspired me, and usually makes my cynical little eyes roll back in my cynical little head. I just kinda march to the beat of my own drummer, in case you haven’t noticed. My advice would be for others to do the same. And those who don’t can continue to cling to their sappy, schmaltzy, Disneyland inspired Facebook advice memes they like to collect…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There are a few people I follow on WP for whom half of their posts are inspiration memes they got from somewhere, meant to empower themselves and encourage their following to cheerlead in the comments. I like these people, but wonder why anyone constantly needs someone else’s “wisdom” to guide their lives…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Interesting. I occasionally like to see or hear something inspirational, especially if it’s said in a funny way. I find that if I focus on too many ideas meant to empower me I become sad, thinking about who I am not. But if that sort of encouragement is what you need to get by, then who am I to throw shade on it?

          Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t have advice, but I wish young people (esp women) could know how beautiful they are, and that 30 years from now they will look back and see it, and wish they had known. Then again, maybe 80 year old me thinks the same thing about middle aged me…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. J, that’s an excellent point. Society attempts to brainwash these young adults into believing that they have to look a certain way– and maintain that look forever. [Botox at 25?] Be yourself is always good advice, especially when it comes to your looks. But how do you get young people to believe in themselves when all their trusted sources say they aren’t all that?

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    1. Audrey, thank you. I agree it’s difficult to boil down the wisdom into one pithy saying. Although once Friend and I decided on categories it got easier– and more fun.

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  16. I am SO LATE to the party on this one. I can’t add any Wisdom–though I was a dorm rat myself–but I do have to say it is Remarkable how many Parent Commenters are so laid-back and Zen about their kids’ college experience. I cannot imagine my parents saying, “Just go and have fun in college! Don’ t take it all so seriously! It really doesn’t mean that much in the final analysis!” Holy crap.

    College must have changed a ton since I was there (approximately 100 years ago). I know it costs a helluva lot more now; I can’t imagine sending kids off to go have fun for 5-6 years at great expense if it doesn’t really matter in the long run.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nance, I was sent to college with the serious understanding that I was to GET AN EDUCATION. My mother realized that part of the education would be academic and the other part would be learning to deal with people. In dorms, for instance.

      Like you, there was no “have fun” advice tossed my way, but there was lots of how to be a better student/person advice, which is what I needed. I was on my own during those years, phone calls home were too expensive to do often– so advice in letters is what I got.

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    1. Elen, Z-D has started saying that frequently. It’s applicable in so many situations, making it a handy thing to mutter. The fawn was right below our deck, so I don’t think he noticed me and my camera above him. Can you imagine?

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi – loved the list – never saw the bulleted items like that and it worked –
    I would just also say
    BUDDY SYSTEM
    Cos we know a girl who left her dorm for a solo jog and never came back
    And
    2 remember when you consume alcohol you are NOT in control
    That is not good
    Drink responsibly
    Or not at all

    Liked by 1 person

    1. priorhouse, that’s a great addition to the list. Buddy system, definitely. Hadn’t thought about the alcohol aspect of college. [How could I have forgotten you’re wondering?] But now that you mention it, drink [or smoke] responsibly. Yep, good advice. Thanks for adding these ideas to the list.

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  18. My advice would be to remember before you complain about how tough it is to take 15 hours of classes and then homework to your parents who are working 40+ hours away from home plus the at home hours to provide you this opportunity. Make the most of this it because life is not one continuous party. To the parents – without skin in the game, it’s not quite as serious to them as it is to you. So says this ‘vintage’ woman. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judy, I like your advice about life not being one endless party. [Don’t I know that.] My mother didn’t belabor the point, but she was working so I could go to college– thus I was expected to do my best and not whine in the process.

      I like your skin in the game idea, also. My Friend’s daughter is a bright one who I’m sure knows what is expected of her– and how to make it happen.

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  19. Your friend and you have it all together. I can’t think of anything clever to add (particularly with all the clever additional comments). For me, I wish I’d known “Stand up for yourself and what YOU want,” and “don’t let others sell you short.” I agree with you – by the way – the time I spent in college and the dorms formed me in many important ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pam, yes, I agree about the “don’t let others sell you short.” I had no idea who I was, so I believed other people, who did not have my best interests at heart. Dorm life was difficult, especially because I’m an introvert, but I learned how to shut down obnoxious people– which is a life skill, I do believe. 🙄

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        1. I lived in a coed party dorm [because my girlfriends wanted to live there]. OBNOXIOUS people were a dime a dozen, but I did learn how to concentrate and get my work done despite what was going on. That’s a skill that’s helped me in adult life. Who’d of thought?

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  20. My step-dad always used to tell me that one shouldn’t tie themselves to another until one knew where they were going on their own. I don’t know if that’s actually *possible* – where we are going can change a lot in the timeframe of a life – but had I listened to it, I’m sure I would have saved myself a whole lot of heartbreak – both of the relational and the subsequent life falls off course because my heart is broken kind. Enjoy your break!!!

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    1. Kate, that’s interesting advice. I see the wisdom in not latching onto the wrong person/career, then limiting yourself. You have to be free to change yourself as need be. Not all people will let you evolve so being with someone who supports you is vital. Your step-dad’s advice is insightful.

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  21. I can’t think of any other category of advice. I had a great time at college. And I lived through all of those categories! The only advice I have is, don’t be afraid to change your major. More than likely you will!

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    1. L. Marie, that’s brilliant. Changing your major is often part and parcel of the college experience. Not everyone does it of course, but I did and I’m glad I did. College is about learning your strengths and weaknesses– and thriving because of it.

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