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The Best Advice I Ever Received

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I was like when I was young and what I see in young adults today.

If you came here expecting me to rail against the younger generations, you are in the wrong place. Go fuck off somewhere else.

I can't draw comparisons between how I grew up to how my kids are. I come from a different time, with different pressures and capabilities than they do. I didn't have computers, cell phones, apps, and remote school. My generation? We still learned basic math on an abacus*, we called people from the wall phone that may or may not have been a "party line*," Trapper Keepers* and folded notes*, and paper grade cards*. There is no comparison here. It's two completely different realities. To judge one based on the experiences of another is ludicrous. I will say that is easier to understand what is unfolding before you than it is to understand what happened before you were born.

There is an old adage that says "some things never change."

This isn't entirely true or untrue. It's a partial truth/untruth.

Things do change. Society changes, maps change, technology changes, laws change, etc.

Some things don't. An eighteen-year-old is gonna eighteen. That hasn't changed. Some of those don't get to do it as gloriously awful as others but nevertheless, they are still pretty equal in development regardless of generation.

I think I was pretty level-headed at eighteen but I was terribly naïve and lost. I had the basics down such as if I wanted to eat and have shelter, I had to work. It was everything else that was confusing. Romance, friendships, what I wanted to do with my life, where I wanted to be, and who I really was as a person compared to the kind of person I wanted to be.

I am not special in this regard. We all were like this. They, the proceeding generations, are all like this too. The preceding ones were as well.

We all freaking faked it until we made it if we even made it at all. And what even is "it?"

Shit, I am almost 48 years old and I am still morphing into my ideal person. My "it" is a vision still in creation.

I've been thinking about this because lately, some events around me have caused me to pause to think about the best life advice I ever received. I've narrowed it down to three things because I still apply them to my life today. This life advice was doled out even when I didn't ask for it, but I had the sense to listen and think about them when I heard them.

I'm not gonna lie and say I listened to every adult that crossed my path when I was a teen. I didn't.

I also didn't outright reject everything the adultier adults said either.

I did hone that important skill of filtering out the bullshit and clinging to the golden nuggets that still serve me to this day. I'm going to share those with you now.

  1. Any job you have, if you perform at your very best and you do it honestly, is a good job. I'm not talking about money here. I'm talking about experience, education, and pride. If you can go home at the end of your shift and know you did a great job, then you'll save yourself a lot of heartache, self-doubt, and self-loathing. You will also take away valuable experience and skills that will apply somewhere down the line, even if your current job is not a part of your chosen career path. Those skills will apply in your personal life. I learned this extraordinarily valuable piece of advice from an old school chum's father when I was working as a housekeeper and he stayed at my hotel. I was embarrassed because it wasn't a "cool" job. I didn't say anything about my embarrassment but he picked up on it and kindly, even gently, shared this thought with me. Here I am, over twenty-five years later, and I can attest that he was absolutely right. I am forever grateful for his wise insight.

  2. Don't shit where you sleep and don't bite the hand that feeds you. Okay. I know, this is a two-fer but they can both mean the same thing. Never forget the kindness bestowed upon you, especially when it comes to those crucial things like staying alive. If someone gives of their heart, their time, and their money, you best respect that and recognize it for the gift it is. This means that if someone has given from their life to help sustain yours, then you should respect that and one day, if possible, pay it forward. You don't deliver a sucker punch to their soul just because you can. It's a good way to ruin your own character and set yourself on a destructive path. Feeling gratitude towards those that have offered a hand up will fill you with a sense of peace and love. Biting those hands will just lead to feelings of guilt, anger, frustration, or even pessimism and nihilism. Refuting the gifts you have received just makes you an asshole. I can't remember who specifically said this to me, maybe I just heard it as we hear most things, in casual conversation. I took them to heart though.

  3. Keep your word. Be mindful of what you commit to and stick to it. Doesn't matter for whom that word is for. Could be a friend or even yourself. If you make a promise, stick to it, show up and be present. Keeping your word also means keeping your word sterling. Protect your character by keeping your word, your honor, and your reputation strong. It also means being honest or keeping your mouth shut when needed. Everybody has probably heard this one at some point in their life. This is a malleable statement that can be interpreted in a wide variety of scenarios. We all falter with this one from time to time as we are all human, but it is imperative to consider the consequences. If you are prone to speaking out of both sides of your mouth, it may take a while, but folks will catch on eventually and that is not going to bode well for you.

I do try to embrace all three of these rules in my life. I do it to keep my inner peace and my outer peace. They work well for me and they have helped me to achieve the things I have and stay steadfast for the things I still want.

I may not live life simply but I do live it well. I have beautiful life because of them. I have a beautiful future too.

My hope for my children is that they find the best three pieces of advice to serve them. I also hope that they bother to at least listen to those that came before them. Not everything from my generation will apply, but there is a lot that still will.

*Abacus - a calculating instrument with rows of beads for basic math such as subtraction and addition.

*Party Line - a phone line that was shared by two or more households in the same geographical area. If you needed to use the phone, you had to pick up the receiver to hear if anyone else was already using the phone. Or, you could listen in on your neighbor's conversations.

*Trapper Keepers - these are making a comeback with this weird 80s nostalgia wave that is happening. We used them to organize our schoolwork into separate folders. A hard copy version of Google Drive per se.

*Folded Notes - our version of texting that required paper and pencil. We would write a note to a friend and then fold it in some convoluted way to pass it to them secretly in class or between classes. Sometimes teachers would confiscate them, and sometimes they would even read them out loud to the rest of the class.

*Paper Grade Cards - These were card stock sheets folded in half that contained our grades for each 6 or 9-week period. Our teachers would fill them out by hand because printers and computers were not a thing. Our parents were supposed to review them and sign them on the back before we returned them. Even the names of your classes were written in ink and a grid contained your letter grade to the right. You reused this same card all year long.

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