August 12, 2008

Advice to My Fifteen Year Old Child

A friend of mine recently wrote a post “Advice to my fifteen year old self.” I identified with her advice. Much of it mirrored my own mind. Yet, when all is said and done, I’m not sure I would give any advice to my fifteen year old self. I would not change my past, even the painful moments. I like who I am and where I am, even if it took a circuitous route to get here. However, I have often thought should I have a child even remotely like myself who found herself in even remotely the same situation, there are definitely a few things I would tell him or her. (Of course, if he/she was like me, he/she probably wouldn’t listen.)

Screw the paycheck. Don’t take that job serving burgers and fries. Go do something worthwhile with your summer, like work with Habitat for Humanity and learn about how houses are built, as I should have done when my Grandfather was a foreman. In return, at the end of the summer, I’ll help you buy your first car (an all electric, non-polluting one, of course.)

Drop out of school. Go take classes at the local community college so you can get your GED and some job skills in half the time.

Work for a year, spend nothing, and live at home. That way, before you head off to college, you’ll have a year to spend backpacking in Europe. (And as your mother I’ll try not to worry or nag too much.) Four weeks of travel is more education than a four year degree.

Don’t be afraid of what you don’t understand. Don’t let stuffy college professors make you feel like a fool because you don’t understand. College is for learning. If we already knew it all, we wouldn’t need to go.

Don’t feel like you have to go to college. Don’t feel like you have to make a “descent living.” Follow your muse. Try things on for size. Be a starving artist if you want to. Builds character, as Calvin’s dad would say.

Be responsible. Understand the consequences of your actions. Have enough confidence to realize that whatever happens, you can work with it. At the same time, always know you can ask for help and don’t feel guilty when you do. It’s not a weakness to admit you’re in over your head. You are not a failure.

Stay away from credit cards.

Don’t try to put down roots too quickly. Stability is overrated.

Don’t mistake disagreement for disapproval. I know we’re not going to have the same opinions on everything. Think for yourself and don’t be afraid to tell me what you think even if you know I don’t agree. Just don’t expect me not to do the same.

Make friends with people who make you uncomfortable.

Find a sport/hobby/club/activity that you can share with others.

Be happy. Anger, sorrow, frustration, and all that young adult angst harm the bearer the most and when inflicted on others only come back to bite you in the ass. You are the only one with the power to determine your own happiness or unhappiness.

Don’t fulfill society’s expectations. It is much easier to exceed them.

Don’t fear intimacy.


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