Tuesday, November 24, 2015

List of Unsolicited Advice

My niece on Jason's side turned 13 recently.  She is amazing, smart, and talented. I wish I had the confidence and ability to talk to anyone as easily as she does. She definitely doesn't need advice from me, but it got me thinking about advice I'd like to give my younger self. I don't know. Sentimentality turns me into an over-sharer I guess. It's not just advice for a 13 year old, and I'm not even going to pretend it's comprehensive.  Everyone is definitely allowed to roll their eyes at me and take this with more than a grain of salt, as even I realize I'll never actually be qualified to give life advice. 

1.  Use proper grammar.  I am not the best speller, so am a bit of a hypocritical grammar Nazi, but really, I just have so many emotions about the English language, education, and the state of society when I see such rampant disregard for the proper use of "your" versus "you're" and the like.  I know it doesn't seem like a big deal, but friends, I plead with you, it is.  I have heard stories of people who do not get recommended for a job because of poor grammar.  Ok - off my grammar soap box.  I think I just shot myself in the foot and will probably have a typo in every single post from now on.

2.  If you are asking someone "When are you going to start dating/ get married/ have kids?" then I hope you are close enough to that person to be in said wedding.  Some people really would love to be in that next stage of life and aren't, so questions about it can be salt in the wound.  I'm finally realizing how guilty I am of asking insensitive questions and the silly part is that I often do so simply because I can't think of anything else to say.  It takes a little more brainpower, but here's to more creative topics of conversation.

3.  Be nice to people who are new or without friends.  Don't just not be mean.  I often wish I had been more friendly to less popular kids growing up instead of being so concerned that I'd miss out if I wasn't with the cool kids.  When it was my turn to be the "new girl," even just a short conversation with someone could turn into the highlight of the day.

4.  Mom is always right.  My mom still supported me when I didn't make the choices that she recommended, but I can't even tell you how many times I've looked back and wished I'd done the harder/ less popular/ less "fun" thing that she recommended. I'm grateful I can say that too, because I know not everyone can.

5.  Jewelry and a belt are all you need to make most outfits look put together, although I usually just do one piece when it's big.

6.  If you have to risk being either overdressed or underdressed, be overdressed.

7.  Say thank you to those whose job it is to help you - teachers, train conductors, waiters, etc. If nothing else, it can only help to have a friend if you are in a jam.

8.  You can pick your friends, but not your family.  This means be careful to pick good friends.  It also means that if you can have a close relationships with your family, it is something to prioritize and treasure. 

9.  Don't say to someone after they break up with their significant other anything along the lines of, "I never liked so-and-so anyways... He/she wasn't good for you..." Two reasons why: First, if you had legitimate concerns or reasons to dislike that person, it is your job as a friend to share those concerns in the most caring way possible, as soon as you can.  What if the relationship continues, and they get married?  You'll be too late. Second, if your concerns aren't actually legitimate, then saying negative things about someone is never helpful, and can really come back to bite you if they get back together.

10.  Time is so precious.  Don't waste it - yours or others'.  Don't let others waste your time who don't actually care about you.  Don't waste other people's time if you don't actually care about them.

11.  I know a lot of these aren't necessarily specific to being any age, much less thirteen. But maybe the thing I wish I'd realized most at that age is that there is a big, huge world out there! There are way more friends, places to live, colleges to go to, people to fall in love with or jobs to get than just what you know now! I sometimes look back now and realize what a narrow view of things I had at the time. I made choices based on the few experiences I'd had or others I knew had. It's hard to remember in the moment, but I wish I had been less concerned about the small worries of the moment, spent less effort on being liked.  I wish I had been more willing to go somewhere I didn't know anybody, and more open to deviations in my life plan. Those deviations are probably the only thing one can count on anyways. You don't know what you don't know, but I suppose that isn't just a curse for the young.

So that's my list. I didn't even have 13 things for 13 years old, and I'm sure some things would have been different if I had different life experiences.  Not to say I don't have more advice - want to know where the best cupcakes in DC are? Want to hear about coupons? Ways to get motor oil off carpet? Just call me Ann Landers - but that's it for now.  I'll probably have a new list when my niece turns 21.  Probably the top recommendation would be, "Don't make lists about life recommendation." :)