The other day someone posted the question on social media: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? And I was like “Oh MY GOD! SO MUCH ADVICE!” So, I made a list.
When I was 20, I was a total idiot, and could have used this advice. Though, really, as a friend who knew me then points out, I wouldn’t have listened and probably would have argued with almost every single one of these points.
This is an assortment of advice I would give my 20-year-old self, or a bunch of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed grads, if someone ever invited me to give a commencement speech, which isn’t very likely, I admit. So, I might as well do it here. Mainly because we have this website and I have to put content on it.
Why would you want my life advice? I have no idea. But I’m pretty happy. So, some of this may or may not be useful to you. Please feel free to share your life advice with me. Maybe I’ll create like a life advice repository or something.
Here you go.
• Always do your best. You’ll be more likely to be successful if you do your best. And if you fail, at least you’ll be able to say you tried your best.
• On the other hand, if you half ass it, you can say “What did you expect? I didn’t really try that hard.” Up to you.
• Be nice. You never know what someone else is going through.
• But that doesn’t mean people are going to be nice to you. People suck and they are irrational and petty and do mean, nasty, and terrible things. Be nice anyway. It confuses them.
• It’s not about you. At least not to anyone but you. Everyone is the protagonist in their own story. So, don’t take anything personally.
• But that whole “It’s not personal, it’s just business thing?” Yeah, that’s absolute BS. Business is personal. People work with people they like. So, if you want to do business, all the more reason to be nice.
• Pick your battles. You don’t have to fight about everything, even when you know you’re right. People will just think you’re a jerk who likes to fight about stuff.
• But do stand up for what is right. Not when you think you are right but when something is the right thing to do. Have the wisdom to know the difference. Still…
• Sometimes it’s best just to shut your face. Before you say anything, ask yourself if it really needs to be said. More often than you expect, the answer will be no.
• Don’t get into arguments with strangers on the internet. That way lies madness, and hours of wasted time you can’t get back.
• Most things aren’t worth worrying about, and you can’t change anything by worrying. So, don’t worry.
• On the other hand, if it turns out we live in a simulation, it’s not entirely impossible that the programmers who control your fate also have access to the inside of your head. And maybe they’re just waiting to throw a curveball at you and, the minute you let your guard down, the plane is going down with it. You might want to to worry, just in case. (Up to you.)
• People are stupid. Shockingly, stunningly stupid. Don’t be surprised.
• People are also bizarrely, weirdly brilliant — very often the people you’d least expect. Look for it.
• But that doesn’t mean you’re smart. Have you ever noticed how the people you think are stupid seem to have no idea how stupid they are? People think this of you too. So wipe that smug smile off your face.
• Don’t smoke.
• Grudges are a waste of time and energy. Get over it.
• Also, you know what? Justice will often take care of itself. Not always, but often. If someone is awful, the odds are good it will eventually come back to them. A lot of the time you can just sit back and wait for it. So, it can be fun to occasionally Facebook stalk people you hate and see what miserable lives they’re leading.
• But – and this is important – don’t get too much satisfaction out of it. Don’t compare yourself to others. Feeling bad because someone is better off makes you an idiot and feeling good because someone is worse off makes you an asshole.
• Make friends, build relationships, surround yourself with love. Being alone is nice but often overrated, especially when you need help finding a job or getting in and out of the bathtub.
• But be careful who you trust. Remember, people suck, and you never know who is just waiting to throw you under the bus.
• Don’t gossip.
• Don’t complain. I love to complain. But it creates a negative environment and people don’t like it. So, don’t complain. (I hate not complaining. This suuuuuuuucks.)
• Take direction and criticism graciously. Even from someone you dislike or when you disagree.
• Listen when people talk instead of just waiting for your turn to talk.
• But if you find yourself unable to concentrate on what they’re saying, because it’s boring or whatever, leaning forward in your seat and nodding from time to time is a pretty convincing way to look like you’re listening.
• Pay attention to what is happening around you. That way nothing will catch you off guard, like ninjas or zombies. (Well, ninjas will still probably catch you off guard. It’s what they do.)
• S/he who gets mad first loses. Always keep your cool. You are vulnerable when you are angry.
• Shower, wear deodorant, and visit the dentist. Nobody will tell you if you stink and you know those people who could knock out an army with their B.O. or breath? You could be one of them.
• Don’t crap on people’s ideas. No matter how stupid, ridiculous, and idiotic those ideas might be, always say “That’s interesting…” before moving on to something else.
• If someone says “That’s interesting,” they think your idea is stupid.
• Keep your word.
• Never betray a trust or confidence.
• Always let someone else have the last word. Leaving their words hanging in the air is a great way to make them doubt themselves.
• Credit doesn’t matter. Just do good, and do well, and you will be rewarded in one way or another.
• Under promise and over deliver.
• Tell the people you love that you love them every single time you see them because one day will be the last time and you don’t know what day that will be.
• Life is shockingly short and time is fleeting. One day you’ll find yourself looking in the mirror and wondering who that old person is. Try not to get to that day without packing in as much life as you can.
• If you’re not sure, just put on your game face and pretend you have a clue. That’s what everyone else is doing.
Don’t forget, if you have any life advice, please share it with me on Facebook. It might come in handy.