Today is my 28th birthday. And tomorrow is the 10-year anniversary of when I graduated high school.
So, even though I know I’m young, vital, with plenty to offer the world, I’m still feeling a little reminiscent. Ten stinking years. It’s been quite a ride through my 20s so far.
But one thing I think of all the time, as many do, is: “If I had ONLY KNOWN back then what I know now…” So, 18-year-old Tom, here are 28 things you should know before you head out into the “real world”:
- If you are the only one contributing to a relationship, then it’s not a relationship. Cut ties with the girl and move on. She’s not interested anymore, and nothing you can do will change that. Instead, spend time with people who enjoy your company. You’ll be better off for it.
- There is no such thing as a “focused”, “quality” English degree. Transferring schools is just going to put things off farther. Stay at your first college and keep all those friends you will make.
- Savor the dorm life. It will be the most fun period of your life.
- You’re a good, likable guy. Be yourself. Let the nerd in you come out of its shell.
- You’re going to be a freelance writer. You can start at any time, regardless of age or experience. Make a living working out of your dorm and you won’t have to get up at 6am to go to work in an office (you’re going to be terrible at getting out of bed anyway).
- Back up important data on your computer with at least 2 copies, if not three. I can’t stress this enough.
- In business, never hitch your wagon to one horse. Keep your options open. All opportunities dry up after a while.
- Getting evicted is the most humbling and embarrassing experience you’ll deal with. Fight as hard as you can to pay those bills. While we’re on the financial topic…
- Don’t… don’t… DON’T willingly go into debt. The second you get a credit card, you are going to ruin your financial life for many years.
- Don’t get too stressed out about keeping your high school friends. The important ones are going to stick around, and you’ll be closer than ever once you become a “real” adult.
- If the big clients aren’t paying, there’s no shame in taking low-hanging fruit. In fact, it would be the wisest thing you can do in that situation. Always keep money flowing in.
- Ignore politics as soon as you can. All it does is make you angry, irritated, and combative. Most of the political world is full of garbage, so there’s no sense in wasting too much brainpower on it.
- Don’t let your best friend drive your Neon. He’s going to run it into a curb. You need that baby to last as long as possible.
- Stop getting too swept up with brand names. Make stuff yourself. It’s cheaper and better for you.
- Learn to cook right away. Convenience foods are horrible for you.
- Keep running. You’ll run a half marathon before you’re 27, and you could do it years ahead of time if you stick with it.
- Get rid of your running shoes. Running is more fun, and better for your knees, when you run barefoot.
- Whatever you do, do not ever take a shot of 151 rum.
- I know he’ll be in Indiana, but try to stay in touch with Chris J. as much as possible over the next year. Trust me on this.
- If you still find yourself in financial ruin for one reason or another, and you’re not dorming anymore, move back in with Mom and Dad as soon as possible to stop the bleeding. It won’t be as bad as you think, and you’ll save a ton of money that you’ll need later.
- Stop eating so many damn pizza rolls and Skittles.
- You don’t need cable TV. Stop buying it.
- Don’t move in with your best friend. You’ll be at each other’s throats for a very long year.
- Write every day. Don’t stop. Make it a habit. A necessity.
- Start reading books more often. Turn off the TV. There’s a lot to read and learn out there.
- Before you run out and buy a computer, try using Linux. It’ll save you a bundle.
- Finally, enjoy the present. You spend too much time looking at the past. There are so many good things in your life – don’t spoil them by facing backward. Smile, laugh, and live in the moment. And take more pictures of it.
Anything you want to add? What would you tell yourself 10 years ago?