This past week, my son graduated from high school. It was a big deal for our family, as any graduation would be. However, this was in some ways a particularly special night, since my son is our youngest, and thus—well, it will be our last high school graduation (until grandchildren come along, anyway). The weather chased us inside for the ceremony, which also afforded us one more time to walk the halls that my kids had gotten so familiar with (and which still seem like a maze to me).
Mostly, it was an occasion to look back one more time before turning our attention to the future. For me, it was a chance to look back and try to bring to mind my own high school graduation—and all the things that have happened in my life since then.
So, for my son—and all the other graduates out there—here are some things I wish I had known when I was your age:
If you don’t speak up, people will assume you’re happy with the way things are.
If you don’t love yourself, nobody else will.
If you wouldn’t want your mother to learn about it, don’t do it.
Paying the minimum due on your credit cards is dumb.
High school ISN’T the best time in your life.
Never miss a chance to tell someone “thank you.”
You’ll fall in love more than once—or at least think you have.
Never assume that your employer (or your boss) is looking out for your best interests.
You can be liked AND respected.
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers—aren’t.
Hug your parents—often.
Know at least a little about sports and the weather.
“What do you think?” is a great response when you don’t know the answer.
The hardest thing to do is quit while you’re ahead.
The second hardest thing to do is to keep your mouth shut.
Never assume that “senior management” knows what they’re doing.
“Have you been working out?” is the best thing you can say to someone. The second best is, “Have you lost weight?”
People notice people who don’t swear.
Breaking up IS hard to do.
That 401(k) match is not “free” money—but it doesn’t cost you anything.
Start saving for retirement—now!
—Nevin E. Adams, JD