What I mean is: I probably wouldn’t have followed it anyway
By Jeff Salter
This week, we’re blogging about advice — what advice do we wish we’d been given when we were younger?
As I mentioned to the Monday Fox, when I was (a lot) younger, I was loathe to take advice, no matter how sound. I was pretty much determined to do things my way – whenever possible – whether or not it blew up in my face.
Not sure if that’s a “guy” thing or a “teen” thing… or just a “Jeff” thing.
But here’s some advice that I wish I had FOLLOWED:
Stay in Church
For 3.5 years in the Air Force and (later) one year during grad school, I just wouldn’t / couldn’t get myself to church. I rationalized it by convincing myself that I wouldn’t be in that town long enough to form any real relationships, so why bother. And it’s true I lived in four different places (NM, Greenland, CA, & LA) during those 4.5 years. [Note: for the 3 years after the Air Force, we were back in our home church, and for 2.5 years after grad school, we lived in a small community — but we were quite active in both of those churches… even though both periods were relatively short.] When I look back to those years I stayed away, I regret the worship and fellowship that I missed. My advice: stay in church – no matter WHERE you are – and don’t fret about whether you’ll be there for months or years.
Don’t waste your college years
I’m ashamed to admit that I pretty much wasted most of the two college years between mid 1968 and mid 1970. At that point, lots of boys stayed in college to avoid the military draft — until those student deferments were dropped and all able-bodied boys were tossed into the lottery system. My point is that I got next to nothing out of those classes and wasted not only my time, but that of certain professors. [Now, it’s true that I began my freshman year at age 17.5 and during my sophomore year I was working part-time, but that’s still no excuse for frittering away the college classes.] My advice? Don’t do that. If you’re in college for any reason other than to learn… just quit faking college and get a job. Don’t rack up all that student debt just because a lot of other kids do it. When you’ve matured a bit (after being in the “real” world for a while) maybe you’ll wish to return to college and actually be hungry to learn. That’s what happened to me. After my Air Force hitch, I returned to college and really invested myself in it. Even made the Dean’s List a few times.
Save credit cards for emergencies
This one actually applies to a period somewhat later in my life, because until I was 30-something I really didn’t have any REAL credit cards to speak of. [One from a furniture store, but it was only good at that store. One from a gasoline company, but the town we lived in didn’t have any of their stations.] But after we started getting a few cards, we fell into that trap of spending now and paying later. In terms of our overall financial health, things were a lot better when we saved first and bought [whatever it was that was needed] after we’d saved up the money. My advice: don’t finance optional purchases.
Be kinder and more sympathetic
I regret to say that in my younger years, I had little patience or sympathy for people adversely affected by age or infirmity. It took becoming infirmed myself for me to be patient and empathetic toward those who were thus challenged. It took enduring my own aging process for me to be understanding toward the aged. My advice: one day you may be in the circumstances that you’re so impatient about right now… so be patient with those folks.
Don’t purchase stuff you don’t actually need
This is a toughie, because “our eyes are bigger than our stomachs” — to borrow a phrase from my generation’s grandmothers (as when we were competing for portions of dessert). In the retail world, companies pay other companies to advertise their products with such zeal and effectiveness that you’ll want them even though you don’t need them. And you’ll probably acquire many of them. And you’ll eventually have to pay for them — even if you never needed them to begin with… and possibly will never actually use them. My advice: Ask yourself if you need it or merely want it. [Except for very special occasions / purposes] if you don’t need it… don’t get it.
Get rid of stuff you don’t actually use
I know – and admire – people who regularly go through their closets and donate clothes they no longer wear (for whatever reason – fashion, fit, age, whatever). I can’t do that. And I envy those folks who can keep their homes free of clutter because they regularly clear it out and recycle or discard it. I can’t do that either. Unfortunately, I was born with that hoarding gene – from the generation which survived the Great Depression – which dictates: “you’d better hold on to that, because you might need it someday and there’s no need to buy it twice.” My advice here is: even if you ever DO actually need that whatever (at some point in the future), there’s a 95% chance you’ll never find it. Get rid of it. Now.
Eat healthier and exercise more
This one should speak for itself as we look at the newest generation and see the rising rate of overweight kids and health problems in young adults with too much weight. I was in pretty durn good physical shape when I exited Air Force Basic Training. But somewhere along the way, I stopped doing a lot of the outdoor recreational things and eventually became a couch potato. [There are other medical issues involved me becoming so sedentary, but – for this column – suffice it to say, my lack of purposeful exercise exacerbated those other problems.] As you leave high school, you will probably be in the best shape you’ll ever be in… unless you are purposeful and diligent about getting regular exercise and watching your nutrition. [Another way to say it: “it’s all downhill from there.”] My advice: don’t let your health slide… because it’s a lot more work to regain it than it is to keep it to begin with.
So that’s my sermon for this topic about advice. Now, if I can just follow my own advice, things should be hunky dory.
What advice would YOU give to your younger self?
[JLS # 375]