First off, I probably need to apologize. If you’re reading this, it means one of your parents is probably making you. Or, maybe you have a grandmother who likes to cut things out of the newspaper she thinks you need to read.
Beyond that, though, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, this is no “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” The good news is, you only have about 550 words left. You’ll be finished in 2 minutes.
This is my graduation gift to you (because I know you have enough of those pesky twenties already).
Here are some things you need to know at this important milestone in your journey.
People older than you are telling you these are the best years of your life. Don’t worry; that’s not true. What these people mean to say is to should enjoy some semi-carefree living before all the adult responsibilities pile on you over the next dozen years or so.
If you are going to college, don’t stress too much over your major. The vast majority of people my age who went to college aren’t doing what they thought they would be doing.
If you’re not going to college, learn a trade or a skill and work to be the best you can be at it. If you think that sounds cheesy, compare the people 3 to 4 years older than you who are following a skilled career path to those who are bouncing from job to job chasing a 25-cent an hour raise.
Regardless of the path you take, do something you enjoy. Don’t pursue a career to please someone else. And, the first day you wake up and dread going to work, make a 90-day plan to change what you’re doing.
Take your time falling in love. And, please wait to start a family until you’re in a committed relationship, and you and your partner have the means to take care of kids.
Whatever you do, stay out of those 24-hour money stores with the big neon signs. These places are open at 2 a.m., because that’s when people are most likely to make dumb decisions.
Oh, and since I brought it up, your parents are right: nothing good happens after midnight. If your biggest goal in life is turning 21, get your mind on something else. It’s overrated.
Learn the difference between a mistake and a bad decision. A mistake is forgetting to lock your car and having your laptop stolen. A bad decision is heading to the money store at 2 a.m., with someone whose biggest goal in life is to turn 21.
You’ll make mistakes. When you do, learn something from them.
You’ll also make bad decisions. Before you do, look around at the other people those decisions will hurt.
Check your oil. I blew up my car 2 hours from home on Christmas Eve when I was not much older than you because I didn’t.
Put down your phone every now and then. Don’t live your life on Facebook. The entire world should not be privy to your every thought and problem.
Cherish your family. They’re irreplaceable. When they’re gone, they’re gone.
Pay your bills on time. If you ever can’t, talk with the people you owe before the bill becomes delinquent. You will be surprised how willing they are to help you.
Don’t get a tattoo you can’t cover up.
I tried to figure out a say this more eloquently, but I can’t. People who vape look like idiots.
Swing by the produce aisle every now and then.
Don’t be too cool to be spiritual.
And most importantly, have fun. These aren’t the best years of your life, but they are pretty enjoyable if you do it right.