(Editor’s Note: Today’s post was inspired by For Bloggers By Bloggers. Every week, they offer bloggers some topic recommendations. I shared some of the ideas with my HR Blogging friends and we thought it might be fun to select one of the topics – A Letter To My Younger Self – and all write about it on the same day. I hope you enjoy.)
Dear 16-year old Sharlyn;
You are about to make the first of many bold moves in your life – leaving high school. Not because you hate school. Quite the contrary. You’re bored out of your mind and want to learn more. Mom and Dad are a bit concerned that missing out on homecoming, prom and graduation could scar you for life. Trust me, you’ll be fine.
But going to college at 16 will have some challenges. Take it from an older you, here are a few things I wish I knew back then that might have made the transition, and life in general, a bit easier.
Everyone has an agenda. Everyone! That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You could view agendas as life plans. And we all need a life plan, right?! The hard part is understanding there are good agendas and not-so-good agendas. There are also open agendas as well as hidden ones. Remembering that everyone has an agenda is the start. Always ask yourself, “What’s their agenda?” Again, it doesn’t have to be bad…just try to know what it is.
Money changes everything. You’re 16- years old and have no money. But someday you will be married, with a mortgage, and bills. Oh, and there’s this thing called retirement you will need to save for. At some time in your life, you must think about accumulating wealth. How we make money will define us. We will be judged on how we spend our money. And people will change their behavior relative to the amount of money involved. Make no mistake, money is important. Everyone knows it even though it’s hard to admit.
Each person’s moral compass is calibrated differently. Remember how I just said we all have an agenda and money is important? Well, these two factors impact decision making. There will be times when you’re asked to do things that go against everything you’ve learned is right. But, other people might not have an issue with doing them anyway (see Money changes everything). And the reverse is true – there could be times you will have the courage to do something others wouldn’t do. Understanding your own ethics will help you realize how others perceive ethical and moral situations.
Sensationalism sells. (Remember this when MTV introduces a show called “Jersey Shore.”) Even to this day, I have to admit I bang my head against the wall on this one. There are people in this world who will drop the F-bomb just to get noticed. Or talk about drugs, sex and politics not because it’s their belief but also just to get attention. It’s easy to get sucked into drama and sensationalism. Try to always remember there’s flash and there’s substance. Some people use flash because they have little substance. In the end, substance will always endure.
This might sound like a bit of a downer and it’s certainly not intended that way. None of these things are evil. They are what they are; and life becomes a bit easier when we’re keenly aware that not everyone is like us. They don’t think like us, make the same decisions or want the same things out of life. In fact, it’s what makes life interesting.
You’ll also be pleased to know in the future, you are married to a terrific guy, blessed with good health, live in a cozy little house, and own your own business. You also still dislike mayonnaise. But you have acquired a taste for good coffee and red wine.
The future is a terrific, fascinating place. Enjoy the journey.
From a much older you.
Oh and P.S. When Mom and Dad tell you it’s OK to quit piano lessons, don’t do it. You’ll regret it later.1