Recently I have found myself in the position to give advice to people. Thankfully the advice is usually something I have had personal experience with. I have no idea if the receiver wants said advice, or even listens to it. But the fact that a few people seem surprised at what I have to say really makes me wonder… How do they not know this? Well here is a bit of my collected wisdom.
High School only lasts for 4 years.
Seriously. I know it *feels* like forever. But not matter how great or how horrid it is, it will all be over in 4 years. (Assuming of course you don’t fail and have to repeat.) This leads to point number 2:
It gets better.
After High School, everything in life kind of opens up. Want to go to College? There are thousands of Universities waiting to take your money. Don’t have the money for it? There are student loan companies, scholarships, grants, etc to help you get there. Don’t want to go to college? That’s an option too. Learn a trade, or just dive right in and find a job.
The best part is, at this point, you can do what you want to become financially independent and move away from your parents. The first year of not living with your parents is the toughest and most amazing of your life. You will spend too much money and have to borrow something from someone. (Toilet paper, shampoo, laundry detergent, laundry change, gas money, etc etc.) It’s insane. And great. And after that year, you will understand why I say it gets better. The worst part about High School and youth is the inability to control things that affect you. Once you get out of HS and into your own place (even if rooming with someone else) that all changes. You have control.
Don’t stress it. And if you find yourself stressing it, find something that chills you out.
It’s the idea behind “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” which I take objection to because it follows it with “and it’s all small stuff”. BS. There can be EPICALLY HUGE things you sweat. Car accident? Failing a required class? Company getting ready to do cutbacks? BIG STUFF. The problem with worrying is that it makes it hard to sleep, which makes it hard to function, which stresses you out, which makes it hard to sleep… and so begins the negative feedback loop. It’s not an easy cycle to break either. Theoretically a person should be able to say, “Don’t worry about.” and then, resolve to not worry about it until they can do something about it, and things would get better. But that never works. Which is why it pisses me off when people say that.
My solution – find the thing that chills you out. Something that makes your brain shut down, makes you feel even marginally better, and distracts you. Now, to be fair, you can’t use this as a permanent solution, but, if it is Friday night and you can’t do a thing until Monday, stressing about it all weekend is NOT going to help. Exercise, listen to music, drink a cup of cocoa or hot tea, play a mindless video game, play a stupidly difficult video game, hang out with friends, etc etc. This is going to be different for everyone. Everyone has different things that make them feel better. Be sure your activity is safe, not exacerbating the problem, and doesn’t do more harm than good.
My calming method: I make a cup of Earl Grey tea, then sit down and do some herbing, skinning or mining in WoW. It’s brainless, requires just enough concentration to keep my brain from drifting, but doesn’t require so much it is frustrating. Occasionally I will level an alt, but usually it’s herbing. This also hits a secondary calmer for me. Retail therapy. In college I would go to Best Buy, buy like 5 dvds and then go home and watch them all. Unfortunately, my worries were generally either money or could be about money so this was a very negative calmer. Yeah it made me feel better, for about an hour, then I would start to feel even worse. The best part about WoW retail therapy is that I am spending in game gold for in game items. And honestly, the feeling of going out and spending 100 bucks at Best Buy over going and spending 10k gold in game, it’s the same.
Just be careful with your de-stressing tool. Always keep in mind the “doesn’t do more harm than good” rule. Alcohol, drugs, random sex, etc, may de-stress you for a moment, but will always, ALWAYS, lead to more stress. They are dangerous and harmful solutions.
Revenge is a dish best served cold. At level cap.
I really wish I could say life was fair and people are easily recognizable as good guys or bad guys. But that is not the case. Lucky for me karma really does seem to exist. And revenge is sweet, despite never quite being what you expect it to be.
My life example: I dated a guy for 3 years. He was wonderful. I was certain I was going to spend my life with him. Not so certain though that I was willing to sleep with him. I didn’t want kids after all, and life had soundly taught me that people who have sex will have kids. I didn’t want that yet. Turns out, he didn’t agree. And proceeded to sleep with another girl. Needless to say, I did NOT take it well. Flash forward 6 years. Yes, it took 6 years. I happen to be in town visiting my parents and run into said guy at the local Walmart. I can only consider it a win that I was at my slimmest, looking amazing, and he looked like he had a very bad reaction to peanuts or shellfish. I had just gotten a job as a video game developer, a career he had talked about maybe wanting to do one day, but instead, he worked at Best Buy, for the Geek Squad. I was married to a great guy. I was happy and content, and totally didn’t care about this guy, or anything that had happened anymore. And he did. Oh you could see it in his mouth, tight around the corners, the muscle that clenched in his jaw, the narrowing of his eyes. I don’t know if he felt bad or if he suddenly wished he hadn’t done the thing he did, but, at the very least, he was jealous right then. His jealousy made me feel good, but I didn’t care. I had my revenge, but it didn’t matter to me anymore.
I think about this often, not because of the idea of getting my revenge, but rather the realization that it didn’t matter. Now when I get that horrid betrayed or hurt feeling, I remember that feeling of not caring. Yes, it’s a big deal now, but in time, I will see it objectively as a learning experience. And I will be a better person for it.
Organization renders any goal possible.
Wow, that’s weird statement, but wildly accurate. Trying to find a job? Get organized. Money problems, organize everything and budget yourself down to your last penny. Everything in life can be organized, sorted, and researched into submission. If nothing else, at least you will know everything about what is going on so you can make good decisions.
Don’t be a dick. Also known as Wheaton’s Law.
Seriously. I know it’s hard. I know it can be hard to keep your mouth shut. I fight with it all the time. And I fail more often than not. But this is truth. You never know when that person is going to be able to help you later. Also, it generally makes you a more well liked person.
Do your job well, even if, and especially if, you hate it.
Minimum wage jobs are the suckiest thing ever. Soul crushing jobs are called that for a reason. But that doesn’t mean you should goof off and not do your job well.
Why? Because at the very least, at the end of the day, you can go home happy knowing that you did a good job. Make that your mantra. Today, I did good work.
Also, I have found through person experience that doing your job well, gets you noticed, gets you promoted, and gets you into a better position.
Do not, under any circumstances let fear keep you in a bad place.
Abysmal job that you hate getting you down but you can’t quit because you can’t pay the bills? Horrid bosses who are known backstabbers? Terrible relationships that you cling to because the thought to being alone is that much worse?
Don’t do it. Trust me. Life is hella short. Find another job, make it priority one. Shed the mate you have and find another one and work at making it work. Be yourself and be honest. Always. If you give into fear, and stay in a bad situation even when you are wildly unhappy, nothing is going to get better. Make changes to make things better. It is possible to be poor and happy as well as alone and happy. If you aren’t sure you are in a bad place, ask for advice, others will know better than you.
Courage is a hard thing to muster, but there is a reason it is something that gets you noticed. I once worked at Toys R Us. I was in a good position with good pay. But I watched my great job turn into a hellish experience over the course of two months when a new manager came in. I went to Borders that night, applied for and interviewed for a job, got it, and accepted it all in one night. The next morning I started at Borders, when I should have been at TRU. I walked over on my lunch break and quit, essentially telling my old boss to take a long walk off a short dock. I took a $4 per hour pay cut. I had to get up 3 hours earlier than I was used to (I hate mornings). But the simple change of cultures from one of fear, aggression and hurt, to one of calm, intelligence and mild craziness, made all the difference. Yeah, I was broke all the time, but the quality of my life was immeasurably better.
A note of warning, be sure what you consider is a “bad place” isn’t something you can change or work with. Personal relationships can have bad moments, that is not a reason to get a new spouse or so. But that is a reason to check and work with them at being better.
Anger is a habit, as is joy.
Ever met one of those annoyingly upbeat and happy people? Ever wonder why they are annoyingly happy and upbeat? It’s not because everything is perfect. No one is perfect. No one’s life is perfect. It means that they are so used to looking on the bright side of life that they can’t see the other. They notice the good things first. We fall into habits, and our moods are as much a habit as anything else. Work at being in a good mood, and you will find yourself, more often than not, being in a good mood.
To thine own self be true.
It’s cliche and trite. That doesn’t make it any less true.
Don’t ever try to be someone you are not. Accept yourself, your flaws, your awesomeness, and work with what you have. I spent so many years trying to fit a mold I wasn’t made to be. I fought against my true self every step of the way. Until finally, I was just too tried to keep trying. So I stopped. Shock upon shocks, people still liked me, without pretending. I was awesome, without trying to fit my icosahedron in a square hole. The very minute I got over this, the better I felt. And each day it was better, because I was me.
There is probably more, but these are all good things to remember as you try to make it through life.