Feeling like an old man on the verge of death, I have come to feel something completely new: an appreciation and loving care for younger people.

By that, I don’t mean going gaga over little children, with their adorable smiles and cute attitudes — no. Rather, when I see 9th graders, I see potential.

When I see a group of them (or you!) hanging out — I think, I used to be like that… maybe they’ll be friends for life, or Yup, JoJo and JonJon might argue frequently but they’re really similar. People have said my writing sounds like their grandpa — now my thinking is turning like that too, I guess.

Along with such a feeling, I also have the ardent desire to advise you (or them!). I do not want the same mistakes to be repeated, or the same regrets to grow — new mistakes should be made as new heights are reached — because old errors have been prevented through sincere advice. (And I’m sure most people in 11th and 12th grade feel the same — so you have many people you can go to for counsel).

Out of such feelings, I want to give you one piece of advice that should take you far (I can’t say myself!).

I don’t mean college, a job, or anything people mean by “success” in life; but this is something that transforms you in every moment of every situation of every day. There are many quotes that try to give a nice message, but are too simplistic to apply in every case — or too specific to apply to any case at all. This here is something I realize more everyday, and I think everyone would be better if they took to heart this one thing. I am just writing some more words at this point to build more suspense……

Take the initiative

A phrase so simple that it applies to everything. But so broad that every other piece of advice returns to this one idea, too.

To take the initiative is not simply to start something — it is to first accept that your are in control. Every single breath is a fresh start, and you are not bound to anything you have done before. If everyday of your life you have never greeted your neighbour when you see him in the morning, but then one morning you feel like you should — do it! Do not ever be held back by overthinking, know that you are in control.

After accepting that we are in control of our lives, we need to think about what do do using that. Oh, how rarely do we do this — it is so much easier to be on autopilot. We need to think about what to do with the lives we are in charge of. Actively consider things that you consider routine and do out of habit, consider their merits and harm. Do not blindly follow what others do or say.

It is too easy to be a passenger in life, where we just go along with work as it comes and to never consider the greater, overarching, existential questions. Imagine someone driving a car, and regularly stopping for gas, buying his own needs and wants — but when asked, where are you going?, there is no answer. If it helps, imagine your life as a video game, and you are the main character. How can you level up yourself today? How can you quickly finish the small, spam quests so that you can work towards the real main mission — which is the goal of your life?

And that is the final part of taking the initiative, to act. Without control, there is reason to think. Without action, there is no fruit from thinking. Thinking is the bridge, but one must be wary of over thinking. We are to be considerate and caring, but too often we err on the side of safe but sorry — not acting when we should so as to not take a risk. Know that the most common risk of feeling awkward is much offset by the glory of following your heart.

If you are sincere in your intention, and something feels like the right thing to do — just do it. Even if you did the wrong thing, your sincerity will shine through and brighten up your actions, making sure you are never misunderstood.

To take the initiative is to make the most of what you have and do what you feel you should do (based on what you have of ideas, information, ability, resources). It is an empowering idea that is a driver for continual self-improvement, and a key to being more than a mindless animal staring at light bulbs for many hours a day.

Thus, there is much meaning captured in the three words above — but all that is also explained by the one word below: