Your First Semester

This is your life, Chad. College is Act One.

Call your mama. You asked for my advice about starting college, Chad, so that’s my advice. When you leave for your first semester at Auburn University, don’t forget to call her.

I don’t call my mother enough. I don’t know anybody who does. Which is why you should do it.

Also, don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t take anything too seriously. I’m not saying to quit brushing your teeth. I’m only saying that lots of students take school way too seriously.

This is your life, Chad. College is Act One.

A few years ago, a study found that seventy-three percent of college graduates don’t even use their degrees. I am one of these graduates. In fact, I don’t even know exactly what my job is.

Which brings me to my next point:

You know nothing. And that’s a good thing. The less you understand about life, the happier you will be. The smarter you try to act, the more you will look like a complete jackass.

Ask any elderly man, he’ll tell you that life was more fun when he was a dumb kid.

So a good motto for your life might be, “Hi, I’m Chad, and I don’t know diddly squat.”

The reason I tell you this is because the only way to actually LEARN diddly squat, is to not know diddly squat beforehand. So keep plenty of cobwebs in your head, don’t be afraid of not having the answers.

Also, put your phone away. Eat more bacon. Don’t bet against an underdog. Help with the dishes. Go bowling. Adopt a pet. Do not ever—this is very important—put pineapple on your pizza.

Ignore trends. The world is full of trends and fads. Fad-movies, fad-music, trendy decor, shiplap, keto, skinny jeans, edamame, etc.

Even religion has become trendy. There was a time when most churches did not approve of music with drums and electric guitars because it was the “Devil’s music.”

When I was a kid, if my fellow Baptists heard such drum beats coming from your car stereo, they would form an impromptu riot, tip your car over, and throw molotov cocktails through your windows. This has never happened to me personally.

But today, churches have drum sets RIGHT IN THE SANCTUARY. My cousin’s church even has a fog machine and a strobe light. Trends are everywhere.

Tomorrow morning, some popstar could decide to start wearing his underpants outside his jeans and I promise you, four million teenagers would soon be wearing Fruit-of-the-Looms over their jeans, too.

But if you ask me, it all comes down to politeness. Life is about being nice.

And I’m talking really, really, really, really, really nice. I’m talking about being so painfully nice that people look at you as though your wheel is turning but your hamster is dead.

I won’t lie. Being this nice will not make you feel warm and squishy inside. Mostly, you will feel like you are being cheated. For one thing, a lot of people won’t seem to appreciate it. Most won’t even notice.

They won’t thank you when you open their door. They won’t give a rip when you let them one-up you. You’ll feel like nobody sees you. You’ll feel exhausted, like everyone is walking all over you.

But that’s okay. In fact, it’s a good thing to let others win.

My friend’s father, Ted, used to coach a high-school football team. The team was on a winning streak, and they couldn’t seem to lose.

But they did lose. Because the night before the game, several high-school boys went out partying. The next day, minutes before the game, the boys showed up in bad shape. Most were hungover and sleep-deprived.

But the coach did not scold them, he did not yell. No molotov cocktails were thrown. The coach only told them to do their best. They lost the game.

But what came next was worse.

The parents of the football players ripped the coach apart by the ears. Fathers, mothers, principals, everyone. Irate people called the coach’s house and let him have it.

And do you know what the coach did? He listened. To each person. He nodded his head and he took it. Not once did he blame his players, not once did he mention hangovers.

The coach was silent. Because a good man will bow his head for his team.

I tell you this because this world is full of people who will hurt you, Chad. You’ll find this out soon.

People don’t mean to be so selfish. They can’t help it. And you can’t blame them for it. After all, you’re just like them. So am I.

What you can do is be nice. You can be so nice it hurts. You can admit how little you know, and realize that life is not meant to be so serious.

Life is fun. It’s wild. It’s unpredictable. It’s colorful. It’s short. And if you let it, it will break your heart in the most beautiful way. Until one day, you realize that it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to hurt, and it’s okay to be scared sometimes.

But then, what on earth am I talking about? You don’t need me to tell you these things, Chad. Because you’ll hear it all on the phone.

If you remember to call your mama.

18 comments

  1. Gayle - July 31, 2019 6:58 am

    Life doesn’t come with an instruction book, that’s why God have you a Mother.

    Reply
  2. Lucretia - July 31, 2019 7:25 am

    Good show, Sean!!! On Pointe!!! Thank you for being so candid, it is helping my broken heart. . .a beautiful reminder to go ahead and be so nice it hurts and live the lesson that it is okay to let others win, a good woman will bow her head for her team. . .

    Reply
  3. Estelle - July 31, 2019 7:31 am

    Life is not fair. But it is much better when people are nice and kind and mind their manners. And as Bear Bryant said in a telephone commercial “phone your mama – I sure wish I could call mine.”

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth - July 31, 2019 10:41 am

    One of your best! Fantastic!

    Reply
  5. G. E. Reyn - July 31, 2019 11:03 am

    Such good advice to Chad. Call your mamma and right off, ask for her help in transferring to UA. Your other advice to Chad is also excellent, except you could add the bidness about using sunscreen.

    Reply
  6. Joe Patterson - July 31, 2019 12:23 pm

    Thanks again call your mom once she is gone you lose your best friend,however,I have found my mom is still always with me I never make a decision without subconsciously thinking what would mom do .She as your mom was to nice , but I never heard anyone say anything bad about her.She was our family’s rock .

    Reply
  7. Sandi. - July 31, 2019 12:31 pm

    Great advice, Sean. How I wish my dear, sweet mother was still alive so I could call her on the telephone. And I wish my two adult children would call me sometimes. Usually I’m the one who makes the phone calls to them. They stay very busy with their own lives …. jobs, kids, and social activities with peers.

    Reply
  8. Connie Havard Ryland - July 31, 2019 1:00 pm

    Love it. Call your momma while you can. She won’t always be around. Trust me on this one.

    Reply
  9. T.C. - July 31, 2019 1:11 pm

    I wish I could’ve read this back in my college days, (45 years ago)

    Reply
  10. Shelton A. - July 31, 2019 1:32 pm

    I could have used this little talk, too. Where were you in the fall of ’75-where was the internet and would you have been old enough and wise enough to write what I just read? Too many tough questions-time for a nap!

    Reply
  11. roadrunnerot@yahoo.com - July 31, 2019 2:04 pm

    Love this; I’m going to visit my mama in a little while. While I still can. She’s 95.

    Reply
  12. Linda Moon - July 31, 2019 2:12 pm

    “I see nothing”….a good mantra. Can you help me find a church that doesn’t play music like the Raconteurs? Jack White and those boys don’t usually show up for free concerts in churches. It is okay for hearts to break in beautiful ways. Bob Dylan said it best: “Everything Is Broken”. But Mamas and Grandmas are good fixers!!

    Reply
  13. Toni Martin - July 31, 2019 2:21 pm

    This one nails it! Yes, life was more fun when I was a dumb kid. I didn’t leave being a “dumb kid” until I hit my 40’s and boy, I wish I could go back! I’m going to share this on Facebook in hopes my kids call me today. 😉

    Reply
  14. Barbara Pope - July 31, 2019 4:39 pm

    Too little too late–had pineapple on my pizza last night!!

    Reply
  15. Lisa Pelham - July 31, 2019 8:56 pm

    Such good advice. Btw, even a few Churches of Christ are trying to attract people with the new trends. But the other Churches of Christ know who they are and don’t consider them real Churches of Christ.

    Reply
  16. That's jack - August 1, 2019 4:51 am

    Good advice I guess, but since I never had a first semester (except Parris island) the part I liked was Pineapple on the Pizza! Good advice.
    Great read,
    Sherry and Jack (She will be by tomorrow!)

    Reply
  17. Lee Ann Hawkins - August 1, 2019 6:05 am

    OH DARN you have done it again! I have another favorite article!

    Reply
  18. Linda Trammell - August 20, 2019 2:43 pm

    File this one under “Commencement Address.”

    Reply

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