Onto today's post...
Day 8, Wednesday: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.
This is a post that has me umming and ahhing somewhat. On the surface it's easy enough, but when it comes down to it I'm not all that sure I have any advice that would be of value. I mean, I'm 22. I haven't really lived yet. I can't give advice on marriage, or parenting, or mortgages, or career advancement or any of that stuff because I haven't done it. I could probably offer some wise words on losing weight, but that would depend on who I was talking to and what their situation is. Maybe if I was pushed to it I could offer advice to other people in a similar situation to myself, but even then it's pushing it. To me 'advice' is something you get from someone older and wiser, more worldly and learned. You categorically do not get advice from someone like me. I mean, it took me ten minutes to be able to switch on the dishwasher yesterday. For real.
Maybe if you come back to me in ten, or fifteen, or twenty years time I will have some profound words of wisdom to offer to you. Maybe by then I'll be some famous PR 'guru' (I hate that word with the fire of a thousand suns) who flies around the world consulting with mega brands. Maybe I'll be one of those nauseating women who thinks she's the only person in the history of the world to get married and reproduce, and therefore believes she's qualified to tell others how to conduct their marriages or raise their children (I'm pretty sure we're safe on this one, but you never know). To be perfectly honest with you, I don't mind what advice I'm qualified to give in twenty years time. I just hope I've got the hang of basic household appliances by then.
Because I am so woefully under-qualified to offer advice on any topic at all, I thought I'd borrow some from a woman who knows far more, and can express it far more eloquently than I will ever be able to. I first read the below when I was 16, and it stuck with me ever since - in bold you will find the lines that resonate strongly with me. My lovely readers, I give you Mary Schmich.
'Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.
Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.'
With all my love, as always,