Hey, guys. There are few things I dislike more in this world than tomatoes, but one of them is formality. I can't stand it. Suits and ties and pomp and etiquette ... BLECK. When things get serious I'm the kind of guy who just jokes around it. It keeps me in my comfort zone. But right now we're going to have to talk about some pretty serious stuff. Let the fact that I'm taking the time to write this be evidence of how passionate I am about it. Take the message seriously — even if you hate it.
Now you might be asking yourself what reason you have to actually listen to me, and that's a fair question. I suppose I am just a random voice on the internet, but I offer you this: I'm on the other side of where you are now. I made it through high school. I even recently made it through college (this year) and even more recently got married (three months ago). I've gone through the teenage years, and I've made it to real life. I've picked up a few nuggets of wisdom along the way that I think you'll find pertinent to your life. And if you have no other reason to read this, do it because your mom asked you to.
Pride is at the root of every real problem. Humility is the cure. That can be hard for a teenager to swallow. You're trying to find your place in the world. You're not a kid anymore and you want respect, but you're still subject to the rule of your parents and teachers. You're prepping for the rest of your life, and a lot of people are going to get on your case about it.
If you want respect, be humble. Accept correction. Try to understand other people's views and opinions. If you're wrong about something, admit it and change.
Here are just a few symptoms of pride that you might be familiar with. If they ring true, just work on fixing them. Change your habits. It'll get you far in life:
Ignoring instructions from parents
Talking back to teachers/parents
Talking bad about others behind their backs
Not recognizing your own faults or not apologizing for them
Just bear with me here. Don't close off just yet. I know it kills you to hear this, and you might be rolling your eyes at the screen thinking this is just another lecture on respecting your elders. Just chill out for a minute and keep an open mind.
Your parents weren't born old and annoying. They were young once too. I'm understanding that more with each passing year. When they give you rules and advice, it really is because they want the best for you, and they're all too familiar with the dangers you're up against every day.
They might not be cool. Maybe they still don't know how to use AirDrop, but they love you and they're worth paying attention to.
You've heard this one before, but I'm going to say it again: Once high school is over, you're going to lose contact with 95 percent of your friends (unless you call liking an occasional Facebook post "contact"). That's just the way it is.
So make sure you spend those years being you. There's a misconception that you spend high school "figuring out" who you are. No. You spend high school creating yourself. Build yourself into the person you want to be.
Giving in to negative peer pressure just to fit in isn't worth it. If you see someone being bullied at school, stand up for them. Be kind. Be friendly to the friendless. Those are the things people remember past high school. Those are the things that matter.
If you have a smartphone, count yourself as extremely lucky. Those things have more power than we'll ever realize, and some people abuse it horrifically. So, a few words of advice:
If you wouldn't say it to their face, don't text it, Tweet it, Snap it, Whisper it, Tumblr it, Reddit it or Facebook it. This goes back to our first point about being humble. If you have a point to make, make it without inciting contention and purposefully insulting others.
You will encounter opinions differing from your own on the World Wide Web. It's just a fact of millennial existence. One measure of your character is how you react when you happen upon those opinions. Will you engage in social media warfare in the comments section? Or will you engage in a constructive exchange of opinions?
Don't bully others online. That's serious stuff. People die.
Also, don't spend your time looking at pornography on your phone. Porn is a great way to sabotage real future relationships and destroy your character. This is a much more serious problem than you may realize.
I know you've got a lot of hormones coursing through your veins these days. Keep those under control. It'll save you a lot of potential problems, and it'll save your parents from about 400 gray hairs.
Be careful about getting too serious with someone during the high school years. Becoming parents should only begin when you're no longer living with your own parents. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but it makes sense to me. You shouldn't be in any hurry. Be smart about your relationships, especially as it relates to timing.
We live in quite the scary world. Anyone with the ability to improve it has the responsibility to improve it. You have that ability. Be the best person you can today. If you make that effort every day, it'll become a habit. Then it becomes who you are. Don't be afraid to make changes. Don't be afraid to make mistakes either, but handle them with humility.
See you on the other side.