My last posting, An Absolute Guide to Surviving Your Teens and Twenties, struck me, almost immediately following my posting it, as being incomplete. And then it hit me. BAM! You idiot! You forgot to tell the how to navigate life during their teens and twenties. I would apologize for such a faux pas except that upon reflection, I realized it would have made the first posting too long and most likely, difficult to understand. Therefore, this is really part two to that first posting, just with a different title.
When I was in my teens, and in high school, a deadly duo if ever there was one, I was ruled by fear. That had actually started prior to my teens but my experience as a teen is more than enough to make a point.
Everybody, hopefully, has a first day of high school. Some of you more advantaged people, had a first day of prep school. Me, I started at the first and ended up at the latter. Anyway, there you are with several hundred of your closest friends heading into an auditorium for orientation. Most of you took this as an opportunity to talk to your friend on one side or the other of you. And maybe you talked to both of them. Does not matter! Not listening was by no means a fatal error but it did have a degree of seriousness. That is, some guy stood up on a stage and told you what to expect now that you were joining the part of life known as high school. Had what that person been saying been a guide of how to get from one side of the Amazon upper river, where you presently were, to the other side of the upper Amazon safely, I would be willing to bet that not only would 90% of you have listen, but would have taken notes. The other 10%? Well, isn’t there always that 10% who just seem incapable of understanding the gravity of what they are about to undertake? I think so.
After the first month or so of your freshman year you have figured out which group of outcasts you belong to. I say outcasts in a coverall way because everyone group, each in its own way, is a bunch of outcasts at least for the time they assemble.
Now you probably think I am going to go on another diatribe about how important education is for you. Nah, I did that in my last post and I really hate repeating myself. This little diatribe is all about social survival. And since for high schoolers the overwhelming amount of socializing happens either within those high school walls or out on the athletic fields, what better place to focus upon!
Now take a second and think about your two greatest fears. Make certain you are being honest with yourself and place them in the front of your mind. I am willing to be that fear is one of those fears. Sounds rather redundant doesn’t it. Well it’s not! Actually, it is prime to our entire survival.
There is this little talked about part of your brain called the amygdala. It is right next to the pituitary gland which helps regulate everything which happens in your body. But the amygdala has one purpose and one purpose only. The amygdala tells the pituitary gland that your life is in imminent danger and to send out a high amount of adrenaline to put the body into a fully alert state and defend itself. That one goes all the way back to when we were still crawling around in trees and could not communicate with one another except through sign language.
One of the first big social events all high schoolers experience, if they so choose, is the homecoming dance. That is the time when the school’s seniors, and a few choice juniors, celebrate something they really do not understand but since it means showing off with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you go all out for it. For the most of us, it is a time of heightened social fear. Why? Well I am so happy you asked! Because we have decided during that dance that the boy or girl we would really like to have a dance with will reject us out of hand. That is called projection. It is an irrational fear which decides our next move, or in this case, lack of movement.
At my twentieth high school reunion I sat at a table I call the “divorced table.” I think there were ten of us and we were all divorced. To my heart’s belated delight, most of the women were some of the prettiest and most desired in high school. Now here comes the shocker, are you ready? Each of them agreed that far too many Saturdays passed with them not having a date when they desired one. The crusher for me was when I said to one of the women seated there, “oh I had such a crush on you.” And to my shock she responded, “I had one on you too but you never said anything!” So does that mean all I had to do as a freshman attending the homecoming dance was to walk across the floor, pushing aside my fear of rejection, and asking her to dance with me and I would likely have met with success. Well, if what I have just said is to be believed then the answer is an extremely obvious yes!
I remember thinking, “how come no one ever said anything?” The answer is amazingly simple: because most of us never overcame our fear of rejection to chance acceptance and so we said, or in this case, did nothing.
Nothing changes if nothing changes. Odd statement huh? But think about it, was every high school dance you ever attended a repeat of the one prior. Were you doing your own version of “Ground Hog Day.” Most likely! That does not mean you will never get rejected, it just means you need to change your focus. I know for absolute fact that at any high school dance you ever attend there are going to be this rather large group of boys and girls who are dying to be asked!
Now if you happen to be reading this and are also in high school you would probably like to yell at me how there is this group of people who are universally popular! And you know what? You are quite correct. HOWEVER! They are in the minority, and a small minority at that. Which means by default, you are in the majority! The majority always rules but only when it does something.
Oh, and that reminds me, if you are drinking alcohol, STOP IT! Not only is it illegal, actually the least of your problems, but it denies you access to that part of you that will make you a social success. And now you are going to tell me how you become more social when you drink. Wrong! You just talk more and most likely make a fool of yourself. And if you are a regular drinker, well, you are going through the progression of socially retarding yourself. Is that what you really want? Think about that guy or girl who is intelligent, beautiful, and popular who you would dearly love to date. Chances are they do not drink. But if they do drink, then you definitely do not want to date them because they are a mess inside in spite of any successes they seem to be amassing.
And drugs? A complete waste of time! Yeah yeah, I did a little marijuana and hash in my twenties but to what end? I just made myself into a bigger fool than I already was. In the 1980s there was a saying going around which went something like this: drugs are for people who cannot cope with reality, and reality is for people who cannot cope with drugs. Truer words were never said! So when you are considered doing X, or K, or Molly or whatever else is out there, do yourself a huge favor and opt out. Anything a doctor has not prescribed to you and you take are a roadblock between you and the happiness you so desperately desire.
And so you graduate from high school and find yourself in your twenties. If you are going to school, keep the focus on your studies and make party time tertiary. Third? Yes, because taking care of yourself in body, mind and spirit comes first, your studies come second and your family comes third. Ooops, looks like I just made party time 4th and maybe it should be even lower.
Every state in the United States considers you to be an adult once you achieve the age of 18. Do not be fooled! It is a trick! You are not! Science generally agrees that women mature more quickly than men and it has been my experience that such is exactly the case. There seems to be about a 3 year difference. So guys, this means that when you reach the age of 21 you are probably still acting like an 18-year-old. And just how responsible is an 18-year-old? Not very. It is not their fault. It just the way the maturation process works.
The smart person, for the first half of their 20s, refuses to get into committed relationships. They do this because they are still exploring what type of a relationship they want to be in which means who would make the best sort of partner for them. They will love someone for a while and then suddenly discover they like the person more than love the person. They met a good person, someone who will make a good friend, but who would make an absolutely miserable lifetime partner. Oh, and they do not party much.
But the early twenties are also the time you need to get every mistake you can make out of the way. You will make a lot of mistake just don’t forget what they were because they hold a lot of value for your future. A mistake is the universe’s way of saying, “Don’t do that again!”
A common mistake is a young man or woman finding the person who they think is mister or miss right when in fact that person is simply mister right now, or miss. That’s okay because that is how you learn who will not figure into your future, at least not as a life mate.
Regardless, for those years of 20 to 25 do not worry about all the mistakes you make, just be certain to remember each and every one. It sucks making the same mistake twice. Take that from someone who had done such many times over. Oh, and if you happen to reach 30 and still have not met the right person, fear not, they are close. And let me put one last misconception to bed. It is common said when looking at the people around you, and after being asked why you do not date a particular person, to say, “Oh, we’re just friends.” Just friends? That is exactly the person you want to marry. If you are not considering marrying a person who is also your best friend, you have probably made the wrong choice. Take another look at your friends, the right guy or girl for you may be right there.
There is a quip you hear sometimes: “the secret to life is . . . . “ There is no secret to life. Life means you wake up and you are happy that you did so. Life is enjoying the people around you. Life is a quiet moment watching ducks paddle a pond and seeing how “just being in the moment” works so really well for the rest of the animal kingdom. For some odd reason, man seems to have missed this most salient of all points. Live in the moment. Remember, when it rains on you it is raining on everyone else too. You are never alone. Want to see that work? Next time you come across a friend or are with a group of friends, look for the quiet one and go up and ask, “how’s it going?” And do not let them get away with a one sentence answer. Do not just act like you care, care. You might be the person who not only helps salvage that person’s day, but you will find yourself a happier person, almost like it was magic.