Today is May, 10th 2013, which means that I am now thirty years old. Thanks to calendars, I saw this coming and was able to prepare myself. I even found some time over the last three decades (!) to write a few words.
Presented as advice to my younger self, exactly thirty things that I (think I kind of) know:
- Try not to give unsolicited advice.
- Showing up on time, consistently and without fanfare, is the single best way to show another person that you respect them.
- People should hear nice things about themselves. Do not assume that everyone does. Give more honest compliments.
- If you drink beer, drink the absolute best beer available, even if that means you can afford fewer beers.
- Try to be the best person that you can be all the time. Maintaining different identities is a burden and it distracts you from working on your real one.
- Kindness, and the strength to display it in all situations, is the single most admirable quality that people can possess.
- If given the opportunity, people will surprise you. Leaving yourself open to these surprises is a kind of risk. Taking that risk is how you believe in people.
- Own fewer things. Identify possessions that you love. Take care of them, treat them well, and keep them forever.
- When with others, make every possible effort to be with them wholeheartedly and every possible effort to not fiddle with your mobile devices.
- Every photograph and video you take at a concert or other live event will probably be terrible. Just enjoy the moments, don't feel pressured to document them.
- Let people leave your life when they need to. Leave a light on for them in case they ever decide to return. Collect those lights and regularly remember why you keep them lit.
- Write more letters. Literal, pen-and-paper, had-to-buy-a-stamp-and-remember-where-your-friend-lives letters.
- Be a relentless champion of people you care about.
- When hugging, hug with two arms, while standing and applying reasonable, affectionate pressure.
- Take every possible precaution to ensure that you own what you make: words, art, music, photographs, and even social media updates.
- If you make something that you think could help someone, give it away.
- Go to bed an hour earlier and wake up an hour earlier. Life is nicer in the morning.
- Give more, smaller, unexpected, personal gifts.
- You will miss things. You will not live long enough to experience everything. Try to spend time with this in mind.
- To accomplish something difficult, make the work as easy as you can on yourself. Remove every obstacle except the work. Then do the work.
- When writing lists of advice, simply mine your past mistakes and failures, then try to rephrase them as folksy wisdom.
- There are not many tasks that you'll be doing repeatedly for as long as you're alive, carrying stuff is probably one of them. Buy a really nice bag.
- Other people cannot always see your intentions, they can see your actions.
- No matter how important the rush that you are in, there exists someone in a more important rush, possibly the person directly in front of you.
- Find something small, cheap, and easily reproducible that makes your day better. Make it a point to include it in life as often as possible. I suggest tea.
- Settle into the realization that other people can be as intelligent as you. And more intelligent. And less intelligent. But, understand that you often won't be able to tell the difference.
- Ask your parents more questions about themselves, answer more of your parents' questions about yourself.
- Unless you have finished writing a book, it's probably best not to tell anyone that you are writing a book.
- Seeking comfort is just fine. Seeking unending comfort can be a trap; occasionally, pursue the uncomfortable.
- Placing a ripe, soft avocado in a refrigerator will extend its life by two days, give or take.
- Once in a while, when you feel strongly about it, break a rule.