I’ve never been very good at “adulting.”
In fact, in most every metric used to judge what constitutes a successful adult, I’d probably be considered an abject failure.
Which probably makes the very thought of me giving some advice to recent high school graduates a pretty hilarious notion. However, a recent crop of graduates have been unleashed upon an unsuspecting world and they are thirsty for knowledge and advice.
And, for the money you probably have in your pockets right now, I’m the best you can afford. So you’re stuck with me, and in turn I reckon I’m stuck with you. We’re in this together, kids — and let’s face it, nobody gets out of this world alive anyway.
And so, for the $1 you just spent on the paper you hold in your hands (unless you are reading this on the Interwebs), here’s the best advice I can possibly give you as you enter your journey into adulthood:
• Youth is precious, so enjoy it while you can. I know this seems far-fetched right now when you are young and invincible, but here’s a dirty little secret: You won’t always be this way. Your metabolism is going to slow down. You won’t be able to eat fast food at 2 a.m. your entire life. You’ll lose hair in the places you want it and grow hair in the places you don’t want it. You’ll sag. You’ll droop. You’ll find yourself exercising, not because you want to look good on the beach but because you are trying to extend your warranty. Start taking care of yourself now before it all comes crashing down — it will make things much easier later in life. Eat better. Exercise more. Get some sleep.
• Say thank you more often. You’ll be amazed how much people will appreciate this. You might even make someone’s day with this simple gesture. It’s easy to take things — and people — for granted. Don’t do that. Say thank you as often as possible. You might want to start by writing those thank you notes for your graduation gifts.
• Do all the things. As I mentioned before, nobody gets off this planet alive. Don’t have any regrets in your life. Have fun. Do things that make you happy. Have adventures. Take some chances. When you are in your hospital bed many years from now, you don’t want to say, “I wish I had…” but rather, “Whew, I can’t believe I made it!”
• Work harder. You know, if you are going to play hard you are going to have to work hard, too. You can’t do one without the other. It will be up to you to find the proper balance. If you are going to college, don’t skip class. They really do give you all the answers there. When test day comes, it will feel like cheating. If you are entering the workforce, show up on time and ready to give everything you’ve got, no matter what the job is. They are paying you to be there, so act like it.
• Call your mother. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call her. If you are fortunate enough to still have her, call her. There will come a day when you won’t be able to.
• Listen more. If you are anything like I was at your age, you probably think you know everything — or, at the very least, most everything. You don’t. Not even close. No matter how much you think you might know about a given topic, I can promise you there’s almost always going to be someone out there who knows more. Listen to them. Learn from them. And if you do happen to become the world’s leading authority on a given topic, start learning about new topics.
• Appreciate the little things. Sometimes we get so lost in our quest for the big things — cars, homes, jobs — that we forget to take the time to appreciate the little things like a sunset, our favorite song on the radio, or a perfectly cooked cheeseburger. I’ve found that the little things, when given proper attention, can end up meaning a whole lot more than the big things.
• Subscribe to your hometown newspaper. Hey, I’m the one handing out advice here; I can be self-serving if I want to. Also, we really do have a lot to offer.
• Be nice. This is probably the best thing you can do. In the end, I think you’ll find that the people you come in contact with in the course of your life won’t really care how much money you had (or didn’t have), how beautiful you were (or weren’t) or how successful you were (or weren’t). They are going to remember how you treated them and how much you touched their lives.
And besides, being nice is a pretty inexpensive proposition… sort of like this column.
David Fong writes for the Troy Daily News, a division of Civitas Media.