Friday, May 3, 2013

Dear New Adults

Ah, May.

Birds are chirping in the trees, flowers are blooming on the ground, and everything is having sex with everything else.

May is also the start of college graduation season when 22ish year olds cast off the final trappings of youth and make their full entry into the world of adulthood....theoretically. Kind of. Sort of. Okay, not really. I mean, nobody hands you a guidebook that says "How to be a Grown Up", so most of us just kind of figured out how to do it as we went (or as we go).

I want to help. I may not be the wisest person in the world, but I have accrued SOME knowledge in 31 years of life, and to you, oh new grown ups, I have some words of sage advice. Here they are.

1. When you get like a full time, real world, adult type job, and you get a cup of coffee, and it is the end of the coffee in the communal office coffee pot, ALWAYS make a new pot of coffee. Don't leave an empty, or nearly empty pot for the next schmo who comes along. If you empty the joe, always make some mo'.

2. Learn to cook real food. You can't live on ramen and bagel bites anymore, and you aren't living with your parents. Learn to make 5-12 dishes really well. Buy some pots and pans, buy some cookbooks (or get a cookbook app for your smartphone), watch some "How-to-cook" youtube videos. This will come in particularly useful when you have a date with another human who enjoys food. "Oh, you know how to make salmon that doesn't taste like cat food? I am very attracted to you now."

3. When you go to look at an apartment, no matter how nice it may look, remember to ask if the apartment has any sort of history of leaking or flooding. I have rented two different apartments with leaking problems and it was just a total nightmare. Do not rent a place if you don't know that place is water-tight.

4. Read books for fun. You know what sucks about high school and college? You have to read books. Many of those books were probably boring, or good but not to your taste. But you know what's awesome about being a grown up? No one is going to make you read any books. Okay, you may end up with some crazy uber-competitive boss who makes you read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand, but mostly, you don't have to read any more books. But you know what's awesome about being a grown up? YOU GET TO READ BOOKS!!! When you're an adult, you can ready ANY BOOKS YOU WANT! And when you're in your twenties, you are going to have all kinds of time to read whatever book you want! It's awesome!

5. Don't get cable. Cable television is a giant waste of money. My Dad always told me this when I was a kid, and I didn't believe him,  but you know what? He was totally right. Do yourself a favor, get a fast internet connection, and buy an AppleTV, or a Roku, get a Netflix subscription, and a HuluPlus subscription. If there are any shows or movies you want to watch that aren't available on those services, buy them through iTunes, AmazonPrime, or RedBox. You will save $50-100 a month.

6. If you DO get cable, negotiate your subscription price. Most of the big cable companies have client retention departments. These are people whose job it is to keep you from switching to one of their competitors. So, when your Comcast Xfinity contract is up, call them, tell them you are switching to Dish, or RCN, and just watch them cut $20 off of your monthly bill, and offer you free HBO. Also, complaining on twitter works great on cable companies. If you get bad customer service, make sure to complain about it on twitter. In my experience, you will get better customer service by making a public nuisance of yourself. Normally, I would not recommend being a public nuisance, but cable companies are the devil, and they deserve every bad thing that happens to them.

7. Don't hang out with just one group of people. Are all of your friends liberals? Or actors? Or gun-owners? Or wealthy people? Do you never get into arguments with them? Then go make some new friends. Make friends who make more money than you, or less money, who have wildly different political opinions, who have totally different backgrounds. Make friends with as many kinds of people as you can. I mean, keep the old friends. Those folks are great! But part of being a good adult is realizing that there are a ton of different ways to see the world, and as an adult it is your responsibility to expose yourself to as many of them as possible.

8. Travel. Everyone is going to tell you to do this, but I will too. Travel. Go to different places. When you do travel, don't just go to Las Vegas and Disney World. There are so many cool places in the world- go to as many of them as you can.

9. Exercise. Run. Join a gym. Join a kickball league. Take a ballet class. It can be hard to stay physically active when you're an adult, but if you don't, your body is going to fall apart.

10. Try different things. Expose yourself to as many different things as you can. When you go to a restaurant, order the thing you've never tried before instead of the thing that you always have every time you go there. Also, don't always go to the same restaurant. Not a museum person? Go to a museum. Afraid of the water? Do a Polar Plunge. Do things that seem weird to you, or even better- things that scare the shit out of you. You will gain so much perspective and learn so much about yourself as a person if you try new things as often as possible.

11. Get a pet. Pets are fun. Plus, it's good to be responsible for the welfare of another living thing.

12. Don't get drunk all of the time. I know you liked getting shithammered in college, and I'm not saying you should never get shithammered again, but really you probably need to cut back on all of the shithammering. Drink enough to get a good buzz, but not so much that you vomit, black out, or say something to another human that you might regret.

13. Pay attention to your budget. It kind of kills me that most schools don't have a class where they teach you to balance a check book, or figure out how much money you need to save to buy a nice couch, or a house or whatever. Make sure you take in more money than you spend. Pay off the whole balance on your credit card at the end of each month. If you can't do that, it might be time to stop using your credit card.

14. Finally: Be nice to everyone. Everyone? Yup, everyone.  I mean, don't be a pushover. Stand up for yourself if you have to, but be nice to people. Say hello, and please, and thank you. This is basic stuff that goes a LOOOOOOONG way in grown up town.

Thanks for listening, new grown ups. Good luck with adulthood.

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