This has been the summer of babies. As mentioned previously, I became an honorary aunt this summer. On top of that, this past spring my cousin and his wife had their first child. Whenever I see either baby, I’m reminded just how quickly childhood passes.
Personally, I wasn’t in a big hurry to become an adult (and some might argue that I’m not an adult). I wasn’t in a rush to get my driver’s license. My parents pretty much had to drag me to the DMV. (Side note: I enjoy driving now, and I’m so glad they made me get my license.) I never dated, but since no one was really interested in dating me that pretty much that point null. Mom and dad certainly didn’t do much pushing to make me grow up. They made sure I knew basic adult things like driving, cooking, cleaning, living on a budget, and being a polite, responsible human being. Looking back, it’s pretty clear to me that I am so glad that they let me be a kid when I was a kid. But, I digress, back to the babies.
I’ve been thinking about what I would want to tell kids as they are growing up and facing all that goes along with being an adult. By no means is what follows a complete list (I’m sure I’ll make additional posts with follow up thoughts), but here’s what I’ve got now.
1. Have Fun
This probably seems like a no-brainer, but to me it’s important. Fun is different things to different people. Some people find running to be fun. Others find skydiving fun. I find sitting for hours on end, in a quiet room, alone reading giant books to be fun. When you are an “adult” it’s incredibly easy to get bogged down in work or personal issues and never come up for air. This will turn you into a hollow shell of a person. Make time, even if it’s only a few minutes, to do something you enjoy.
2. You are NOT the smartest person in the room.
“But wait!” you may be saying, “I’ve got an IQ that’s triple what yours is. I build rockets and perform brain surgery at the same time! Sheldon Cooper was based on me! I don’t watch Jersey Shore.” Yes, these are all things that are evidence that you are smart. However, I have always maintained that everyone is smart (keep in mind, I developed this theory years before reality tv became a regular part of daily life), but we’re all smart about different things. I’ve known people who really struggled with reading and considered themselves dumb, but they knew absolutely everything about raising cattle and were incredibly successful at it. I’ve also known people who can figure out difficult math problems and with only a pen and a napkin, but when it comes to music, they’re pretty lost. I’ve got loads more examples, but my point is that you should never look down on someone just because they don’t get what you’re saying. It doesn’t mean they’re stupid, it just means that your expertise is not their expertise. I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t excel at something. Treat everyone with respect, and never consider someone beneath you, just because you don’t think they’re as smart as you.
3. Life’s not fair.
When I was in high school I was really good at music. Along with all the school band and choir groups I was involved in, I made it into honor bands and choirs all over the state, and I frequently got to show off. Towards the end of my high school career (I can’t remember if it was my junior or senior year, it was a long time ago), I received a letter inviting me to participate in a trip, along with other kids from around the state, doing musical performances. These performances would be in Europe. I desperately wanted to go, but I didn’t even get my hopes up because I knew it was financially impossible. My parents saved all year just so they could send me to music camp and let me take lessons. I was so busy with music, and other extracurricular activities, there was no way I could’ve even hoped to come close to making enough at a job to make it. So, I threw away the letter, and when I got a call from my former band director’s wife (who was in charge of the trip), I was able to hold my ground and tell her it was just impossible. Was it hard? You have no idea, but I survived. I really hope to make it, at least to London and Loch Ness, someday; but if I don’t, it won’t be the end of the world.
Life’s not fair. There are going to be times when you don’t get what you want. Don’t believe me? Watch the Olympics. Everyone wants the gold medal, but only one person gets it. If you aren’t into sports, go on a job interview. There’s always at least one job candidate who doesn’t get hired. This candidate might be you. It’s no fun to be rejected. Sometimes it will make no sense, and even if you fight for yourself, it still may not end in your favor.
4. Take advantage of travel.
Missing out on Europe brings up the fact that if you do get to travel somewhere, go, even if it’s only within your state. Visit museums. Even if it’s just the local historical society’s county museum. Historical places are important. They teach us where we’ve come from. Attend at least one county or state fair in your life. All of this will all expand your mind and experience in ways that television and internet can’t. (Although, if you can’t travel internationally, watch the Rick Steves’ travelogues. Not only will you get to see many amazing places you might not see otherwise, he’s got loads of travel tips that are useful, even if you never travel the world.)
You may never be a best selling author. So what? Just because no one reads what you write, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write. Write stories. If they’re terrible, don’t feel obligated to share. If you can’t write stories, keep a journal. Even if the best you can do is, “Had tacos for lunch with roomie. I think I’m going to buy that lamp I saw at Menard’s.” These things may not seem important now, or even like something you’ll forget, but someday you may forget, and then you’ll be glad you wrote.
6. Avoid reality television.
I’m not talking about HGTV teaching you how to pick the perfect house. I’m talking about things like, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, Big Brother, just to name a few. I try to avoid reality shows, but the few times they’ve been unavoidable, the behavior shown by the stars makes me cringe. These “stars” are vain, selfish, rude, and morals get thrown out the window if it means they could do something to increase ratings. Reality shows don’t show what the real world is like. What concerns me the most about them is the fact that too often it seems they advertise that this week Person X gets into a fight Person Y. What is that teaching a society that does nothing but watch hours and hours of this stuff? If nothing else, avoid reality shows, because five minutes of a reality show is the most intellectually draining thing I’ve ever encountered.
I do have more to add, but it’s getting late, and I’m getting tired. So, for now I’ll end here.