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The females in my family are bastions of advice. Regardless of the subject, they assert their superior knowledge and follow up with at least three contradictory suggestions. Ironically, they ignore others’ advice almost as much as they give out their own. I am no exception. This quality proved to be unfortunate when I decided to host several parties at my house.

My house has a revolving door when it comes to friends and family, so we are all used to having guests over. I decided to take our hospitality a step further by throwing a nice get-together, conveniently ignoring the fact that in high school this frequently blossoms into what is known as a rager. I picked the Sunday of a three-day weekend because I could have the following Monday to rest. Immediately, the stream of advice began. My parents and more practical friends posited that since it was the Sunday of a holiday weekend, most people would not have any plans, so I would see many more people than were invited. The more the merrier, I replied, happily inviting everyone I knew and even some I didn’t.

Needless to say, the party got out of control very quickly. My parents had suggested I close the front gate, but people figured out how to open it. They warned me to quiet everyone down because of our neighbors, but trying to control a crowd of 50-plus high school kids is like building a dam out of fishing nets: not very effective. Finally, around one in the morning, I followed my parents’ angry commands and kindly ousted everyone from the house.

Despite the catastrophe that was my party, a couple of months later I disregarded more ominous predictions from my parents and decided to host another soirée. They suggested I make it invite-only to avoid a repeat, so I spread the word that it was to be exclusive. Unfortunately, I again chose a night on which everyone was looking for something to do — the night of my school’s formal dance. Everything was going well until an unexpected and uninvited limo of roughly 40 kids spilled into the house. They released their limo driver, thinking they were going to stay the night. My parents, once again, were seething when they discovered more than 60 out-of-control people stumbling in and out of our house. Their rage was still palpable the next morning.

Following advice is not my strong suit, clearly. But my prom is coming up, and I’m thinking, perhaps I’ll invite just a small group of close friends afterward....

— Jennie Matusova, La Jolla High School

* * *

Five years old and my life had already become a hassle. The world was growing dim. My parents were gone, and I found myself sitting in a stranger’s house, my new place to live, crying for the loss of my home and family. I cried for so long it felt like I was in a tunnel that seemed to have no end.

I remember the day I met a special counselor. I don’t even remember his name now, only his words. As I entered his office, I saw a suited man with a kind face. His black hair was slicked back in a fashionable way, and he had soft brown eyes.

He spoke to me with such love that my heart began to swell. He told me of God. He told me of love. Above all, he told me of the angels that whispered your prayers to the all-loving Lord.

“Kat,” he said, “please remember to pray. The Lord loves you even if you don’t know who he is. Remember, the angels take your prayers up to heaven and whisper them to God.”

Religion has never played a large role in my life, but I will always pray because of this man. I will always pray because I believe that someone is listening.

— Kat, San Pasqual Academy

* * *

"Laugh as much as you breathe. Love as long as you live.” — Elizabeth “Liz” Tran (2/26/90–1/19/07). This is the best piece of advice I have ever gotten. And sadly, I didn’t realize it until I had lost one of my best friends. That was the motto she always lived by, and I had never put any thought into it until it was too late to tell her how genius she was.

This girl lived life to the fullest and made everyone’s day a little bit brighter, whether she attempted to or not. She and I had become really close friends, but junior year we began to drift apart, and I take the blame for it. I began to focus on what I thought were the most important things. I got a job, took on a handful of AP and college classes, and never made time to just sit and smile at life like she did. I was too focused on trying to build my future rather than enjoying the life I am living now and the people in it. And because of this, I never got to mend our friendship before she died, and it is something I regret every day.

To make up for this, I changed how I lived my life. All of a sudden, everything became a little more clear. I still work, and give school my all, but I don’t stress over it nearly as much as I used to. I tell my friends every day that I love them. Every day I make it a goal to find at least one thing to smile about and to have at least one interesting thing happen. And every time my friends and I have a good laugh, I cherish it, because you never know what tomorrow holds and whether or not a moment like that will ever happen again.

I finally realize that life is just way too short to try and rush through, especially as a teenager. These are supposed to be the best years of my life, and I plan on making them exactly that. Little things that I used to get mad about I just disregard now because it is a waste of time to dwell on negativity. Everyone who knew this wonderful girl approaches life a little differently as well.

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