Thursday, February 28, 2008

Real Wisdom For Teens

  1. Post these rules before presenting your list.
  2. List 6 actions or achievements you think every person should accomplish before turning 18.
  3. There are no conditions on what can be included on the list.
  4. At the end of your blog, choose 6 people to get tagged and list their names.
  5. People who are tagged write their own blog entry with their 6 suggestions.
  6. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged.
LLTK tagged me with yet another blogging meme. This one is different than others I have seen, however, and I want to try my hand at it. Unfortunately, TK's list on this topic is nearly flawless: a virtuoso distillation of how to grow up in the modern world. I wish I had seen his list when I was 13, and again when my children reached their teen years.

Here is my attempt at formulating a list on the topic.
  1. Make art. Join the school theater, get into the choir, play a musical instrument, start a band, write a story, take a drawing or a painting class. And don't just make it - perform it, put it on display, integrate it into your social life. This involves some risk, which is part of the point. But also it nurtures something better inside of you than the raw competition of academia or athletics. And it's fun as hell.
  2. Learn a language. Sure, I studied Spanish in high school, Finnish in college, and dabbled in French as an adult. But I still haven't become fluent in any second language to my satisfaction. I think my life is poorer because of it. When you can read a book in another tongue at an adult reading level, or converse comfortably with a native speaker, then you have opened up your world immeasurably. So really learn it - do extra credit, put in your time at the language lab, go to a language camp, take that semester abroad, join a club, whatever it takes. This is on my list of things to do before I'm dead.
  3. Start a savings account. Did I really need to spend all that money on the bullshit I paid for? If I had saved just $20 a week throughout my teen years, that would have been $5200 by the time I turned 18. That's enough for a real adventure abroad, a significant investment, or some other substantial purchase. To be able to plan and execute a long term goal, especially a financial one, is truly a life skill worth learning and having. I'm still working on this one too.
  4. Don't worry about what you want to be. I'm almost 39 and I'm on my second career. I don't expect to stay in this career until I retire. Heck, when I was 15, the job I have now did not even exist. There are young people out there who have the singular drive and interest to pursue a particular career as teens, but in my experience most people are not like that. So do not worry about what you're going to be when you grow up! But...
  5. Develop interests and skills. Find something you're passionate about and go for it. It doesn't matter what it is, it is likely to have several, dozens, or even hundreds of facets to explore. The ability to find and develop an interest is itself a valuable skill. Just caring about something other than who kissed so-and-so and where the party is this weekend makes you a better person. It may even turn into something you could get paid to do.
  6. Break clique boundaries. This was one thing I was actually good at. Hang with the jocks. Hang with the clowns. Hang with the partiers. Hang with the nerds. Don't be hidebound by your peer group. Find interesting individuals, don't settle for a group in which you feel comfortable. Getting along with a variety of people isn't a life-skill, it's living.
If you are reading this blog, consider yourself tagged. Or not :-)

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I fulfilled your tag request. Check it out here.