Tips from a Post-Grad Nothing to a Newly-Turned-Teenage Something

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The lilest sister turned thirteen on the 16th… *pausing for the cause*

I turned 22 on the 9th, so my gift budget is limited to the abstract. Thankfully for Melanie I’m eons more useful in the abstract realm than I am in the concrete. Aside from my uncanny wit, perfect timing, astonishingly accurate pulse-finding finger … and awkward word placement/usage, the best gift I could think of was simple advice to a new teenager.

Pre-pretense: This is for Mel. But obviously if I wanted it to be for her eyes only I would’ve written her a letter. (I mean I would’ve and all, but if I could’ve condensed it to a Tweet I would’ve opted for that. Alas). So read on if you want, but be warned 1.) tis long and unless you know my tone and demeanor this will be more than a chore through which to sift, 2.) don’t complain after reading through it, because … you’ve been warned that it wasn’t written with you in mind

Pretense: Alright Melanie, you’ve no doubt heard all of this before — just like I did when I was a teen; and you know all of this already — just like I did when I was a teen. Humor me though, and make it sound like it’s the most brilliant advice you’ve ever gotten. Plus, you’ve never heard any of this from me so that’s like instant credibility where there used to be uncertainty/skepticism.

Intermission: water/bathroom/social break because this could take awhile …

1.) Nothing is that serious … seriously. The things you think are massive now: aren’t; the things you take for granted now: don’t.

2.) Someone has always been there before. (That said, no one has ever been you there before. So, seize every “there.” #11)

3.) “A person’s pursuit of goodness leads to greatness, but the pursuit of greatness leads to ruin. Pursue goodness and you will achieve great things.”

4.) Slow. down. I never did and I turned out pretty alright; but more often than not I found myself waiting at the finish line. More often than not: there’s no there there — once you’re done, you’re done. Enjoy the ride, the end isn’t going anywhere.

5.) When in doubt: dance it out.

6.) “Kari, you just have to live life without expectations.” … your advice to me last summer, uncannily on-point.

7.) The older you get, the more you rationalize: don’t. Never settle — for people, places, prospects … purple drink when you could have Welch’s.

8.) Media literacy is just as important as traditional literacy. Like the fashion-to-art analogy

9.) The icing is nice, but don’t forget the cake. This blog — and my conversational style — are quick how-not-to guides to go about doing that. I’m very “either the punchline or the joke because you can’t have it both ways.” I ramble, or I don’t ramble enough. So, err on the side of objective substance. When you’re creative, you already have the answers and interpretations — the “so what”; before other people can understand your POV, and get on your level, you have to give them the “what” first.

10.) Calm down. I’m essentially reiterating the need to self-tranquilize (tranquility, not sedation), because I’ve made the biggest mistakes (and not the kind that “make you stronger,” or “turned out for the best,” — just straight up mistakes) in times of haste and in the midst of a temper (which is few and far between because Tauruses nor Bulls ever get temperamental).

11.) Go hard or go home. I couldn’t think of a better cliche, but whatever you do: do it. No one (who mattered) ever slagged me for being too engaged, too interested, too active, etc. It’s just like in BrickBreaker: I’ve only missed the ball when I held back, I’ve never overshot the paddle. That makes no sense, but it actually makes a lot of sense.

12.) Be the first. This is another cliche that I’m sure you’ve heard before. Even though I’ve heard it, it never stuck. I guess it hit me when I noticed I’d only do something if I had an example to follow, or if someone else did it before me. Then, I’d have to see some kind of connection between myself and them. Say I wanted to move to New York, but was too scared. Plenty of people ventured there, but my situation wasn’t the same as Madonna’s for instance. So, I’d nix the New York idea and stay put — stay safe. But what good would it do me to avoid pathless fields, it’s completely counterproductive to personal growth and development. What’s the point of doing everything that’s been done before? If nothing else, do it first so you can have kids like you have an example to follow later.

13.) School is brilliant. Academically, you will never have the opportunity to learn such depths and breadths of material again. Socially, school is one big case study on the real world. (Sidenote: some people, most people you will encounter in structured institutions later on, never grow out of middle/high school. So, pay attention now because the politics stay the same.) And, it’s a very revolution-conducive institution. Personally, it can be the best catalyst for development — primarily because of all of the above being condensed in one location. Figure it this way: you have to be there anyway so #11. I’ve also never been slagged off for learning/knowing too much (actually, I have but usually it’s from haters/people who considered my knowledge — and tone — “uppity”/people who by-and-large aren’t on my level). Engage with the material and your passions will come about organically. Even if the class or teacher isn’t great, take it to the core and learn about the central content/concepts — teach yourself.

14.) Don’t feed into your ego, let it feed others. When you get great — or somehow more iconic than you already are — stay grounded. You’re at an advantage here. Being short, you’re already more down-to-earth than most; and, though creative, you’re less inclined to have your head in the clouds. When you start to get caught up on the image and the facade it seeps into your character. We both know what happens when you let the person become the perception … As long as you stay authentic you’ll be fine. Can’t lead if you follow — especially with friends and fans.

15.) Embrace The Fear.

16.) “I’m never in such good company as when I’m alone and I’m never so busy as when I’ve got nothing to do.”

17.) “Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.” (Also, when in doubt: think “What would Eleanor Roosevelt say?” … and then do that.)

18.) “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” … Read the Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell’s translation is quite nice).

That should do it. (Actually, this is abstract to the point of near irrelevance, and that much more so to you as a teenager. It’s big picture-ish. I’m “devil-in-the-details.” My challenge is seeing the forest beyond the trees, but really it’s finding the balance between the two. Start working the balance now. I guess that’s number 19.)

If all else (slash this) fails … just call.

Watch this space: Celebrities usually say it better. So, there will be a follow-up from (other) people you actually listen to (never end with prepositions, by the way).

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