What is 30 years?

What is 30 years?
Robert Bergman '93

Yoda: That face you make... look I so old to young eyes?
Luke: No. Of course not.
Yoda: I do. Yes, I do… When nine hundred years old YOU reach, look as good YOU will not, hmm?

I have my 30th high school class reunion this coming year and I’ve mentioned it before but it is worth repeating: I remember my teachers looking so old when I was 18—and they were only my current age. 

As a thought experiment, I decided to go back in time and tell my younger self a few little nuggets of insight that I’ve found over the years since I was that little, inexperienced punk know-it-all.

So here it goes: Hey Bergman,

  • Work on keeping up friendships. It will be hard and you will fail at it. Try harder.
  • Everything is important as you go through it, don’t think it isn’t; however, in a few years you won’t even remember it.
  • Exercise more, just because you can eat pizza at every meal doesn’t mean you should. Also, eat a vegetable now and again. Fruit, eat a piece of fruit.
  • Notice how people treat animals; it exposes their character.
  • Don’t buy that iguana.
  • Don’t worry about that heartache you’re about to go through, you will learn to trust again and the love of your life is only 15 years away and worth the wait.
  • Difficult conversations are difficult for a reason, and more times than not you come out better for them.
  • All of our favorite singers are going to eventually die and affect you differently each time.
  • Dangerous experiences are dangerous for a reason but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them. They make the best stories. Go, run with the bulls!
  • Hoverboards from Back to the Future were never real no matter what your friend’s cousin’s neighbor said.

  • People can change but they rarely do.
  • Watch every single person who has power over you. You will learn much from each of them and store away those lessons so you know how to treat people the right way.
  • Travel; it doesn’t matter where you go.
  • Wear sunscreen when you coach.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new.
  • Getting two is more expensive, but it keeps a lot of fights from happening.
  • Strong defenses win championships, (or an undefeated frosh football season!).
  • You will never have a car like your first car. (Dodge Ares K Car, two door, stick shift, white, broken stereo, loved that car).
  • The scariest movie you’ll ever watch is The Exorcist, don’t bother watching it again. You’ll wind up on the floor in the fetal position scared to fall asleep.
  • Make a plan, but don’t forget to plan for your plan to fail.
  • Don’t give away any of your toys. Your kids will love playing with what is left.
  • When you are generous, life will return your generosity.

  • High school is only four years but impacts the rest of our life.
  • Saying “I’m sorry” is not the hardest thing to say, in fact it’s very easy, but just mean it.
  • Be kind, that’s really all you have to do
  • People will try to break you. Don’t try and figure out why, it’s not worth the energy; all you’ll do is make yourself upset and have sleepless nights.
  • You will love teaching, but it won’t be easy
  • Don’t take working at De Smet for granted. It is a good place filled with good people who care about you and want the best for you.
  • Your failures will turn you into a man you can be proud of.
  • Notice how good teachers teach, they are the ones who care for their students.
  • Students are honest, they see the truth every day.
  • Journal because you will forget a lot.
  • You will say and do things you’ll regret and that will hurt people, don’t forget to apologize.
  • Don’t disregard your elders, they really have been there before and have insight, and you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
  • “Nevermind” by Nirvana will define the sound of your generation and will eventually be on the oldie station.
  • Nothing in the song “Isn’t It Ironic” is ironic, unless the entire song is ironic by not being ironic.
  • You’re funny, but not everyone thinks so.

  • Keep loving Star Wars, eventually it’ll be cool. Maybe
  • Don’t stop writing, the great American novel isn’t going to write itself.
  • Don’t apologize for the things you like because other people who you think are cool don’t like them. Those things are cool because you like them. Everyone has a thing that’s weird that they like. And don’t be afraid to indulge your passions; they become hobbies or even your career. Cough cough, superheroes and comic books. (I teach a class on superheroes.)
  • AMDG isn’t just a slogan. You can find God in all things, but sometimes it takes a lot of reflection and time.

  • “You miss 100% of the naps you don’t take.” Dwayne Gretzky (Wayne’s lazy brother.)

I guess that’s all I have. I’m not that old to have figured many things out. Here’s the thing, I know you won’t listen to what I have to say because, you already know everything. But when I was you, I wish I had listened to my elders because this is what they tried to instill in me (maybe not all of this but still…).

Thirty years went by in the blink of an eye. Here’s to 30 more!

(Also, happy anniversary to those people I started teaching with in 1998, this is our 25th year teaching!)

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