My mind feels like a Cuisinart where somebody just dumped all the thoughts in at once

Specifically, the food processor. I don’t think the coffee maker would come up with quite the same results.

I’ve had a lot of jumbled thoughts lately, combined with crazy dreams, and it’s making me just a bit screwier than I normally am.

The two things that I keep circling back to are absolutely no relationship to each other that I can think of, yet they keep coming back and nagging me to write them out. I’ll start with the nice one.

Part of a parent’s job is to screw up their kid(s). It’s usually not intentional, but it happens. There are so many things I wish my parents had discussed with me or taught me when I was a kid, because I had to figure them out on my own, and sometimes those lessons are devastatingly difficult. Following is a list of things I wish teenage me had been told (and a few things that I’d like to think that my teenage son is learning, that didn’t really apply all those years ago for me.)

  • Learn how to create a budget and stick to it. Save up for big purchases and learn how to cut out all the extra bullshit you don’t need so that you have some savings to fall back on when things turn to shit (and they always do at some point). Financing is okay on big purchases like a house or a car, but credit cards shouldn’t be used for everyday purchases unless you’re paying off your balance every month. Don’t spend money you don’t have in hand.
  • Figure out what you want to be when you grow up, and develop a plan to achieve it. It’s okay if your plans change down the road, as long as you keep following the plans to get there. You don’t want to wake up at 40 and realize that your life is half over and you haven’t accomplished anything and you don’t know where to start.
  • Don’t be afraid to be different. Different is good. If everyone liked the same thing, the world would be a very boring place. Flaunt the things that make you special, even if no one else gets it. The caveat to that is: don’t disparage or denigrate things that are different that you don’t like. I see this a lot in the car world. Some people like stanced cars, others like brodozers. Some people get giddy over bone-stock 40-year-old pickup trucks, others prefer brightly coloured supercars. They’re all great. They may not be your style, but someone put a lot of time, love, and money into a car they love, and that should be appreciated, even if it’s not to your taste.
  • Pay attention to the people you see on a daily basis, and learn their names if you’re going to interact with them regularly. I’ve worked at customer service and retail for nearly 25 years, and it’s still kind of shocking to me how invisible I am. They’re people too. Sometimes they have stuff going on in their lives that you don’t know about, that may be affecting their behaviour. Give them the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming they’re being assholes. Unless they’re like that on a regular basis, in which case they may legitimately be assholes.
  • Make sure you have at least one friend (or preferably two or three) who are actual friends, who would do anything for you. Quality is much more important than quantity when it comes to friends. I see people on Facebook with 600+ friends and I wonder how many of those “friends” are people they even know. A good friend is someone who can pick up on the fact that you’re having a bad day without you having to say a single word, and who shows up at your door at 10pm bearing Ben & Jerry’s (or marshmallows). Treasure those people, because they’re the ones who will still be by your side when everything turns to shit.
  • When you’re on a date, leave the mobile phone in your pocket or purse. Same goes for gatherings with good friends. Unless you are an on-call doctor or other bigwig who needs to be reached 24/7 for a life or death matter, ignore your phone. This has always been one of my biggest pet peeves on dates. If he’s more interested in whatever’s on that screen than me, then obviously I’m not important enough, and I’m moving on. Technology is wonderful, and helps us in so many ways, but it’s also disconnecting us from the real world.
  • What goes on the internet, stays on the internet. Yes, you can pull down that embarrassing photo, but someone may have caught a screenshot, and from there, it’s out of your control as to where it may end up. Do you really want that photo of you doing a kegstand coming across the desk of your potential new boss? Probably not. Are you really fed up with your job and want to spew a hate-filled angry message about how horrible your coworkers and boss are? Chances are good – even with tightened security – that it can still be outed publicly and then you’re not only out of a job, but you’re going to have a hard time replacing it again.
  • You only get one first, so make sure it’s special. Whether it’s a first date, a first kiss, a first new car. You don’t get a do-over on firsts, so make sure it means something.
  • Don’t play games with people’s emotions. You may think something is funny, but it may devastate someone else. Try to always be kind if given the choice.
  • When it comes to dating, look at how he or she treats his or her parents and the waitstaff. Disrespect to either means that the disrespect will probably be turned towards you someday, too. Knowing their views on treating animals is pretty telling also. Anyone who kicks a dog will have no problem punching a person later. (Ask me how I know)
  • Always ask for help when you need it. Everyone needs help at some point in their life, whether it’s tutoring in algebra or learning how to change a tire. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’re strong enough to know your limitations.
  • Cut the toxic people out of your life. You know who they are? The ones who always cut you down or undermine any plans you have. They serve no purpose, except to try to destroy you. Don’t let them. You only get one shot at life; try to make it a good one.
  • Know that sometimes life is just plain going to suck, but crying helps. So do marshmallows. When things go wrong, try to fix things up as best you can, and then start over the next day and try again. Keep doing this until things get better. There’s a cliché that says “Everything is better in the end. If it’s not better, it’s not the end.” It’s kind of true. Keep trying anyway.

That ran a little longer than I expected, and I’m sure I have more things I’d like to add to my list, but those will have to wait, along with the other random thought running rampant in my head, which is a rant on political correctness. I’ll try to get to that one later this week, if I don’t get too insanely busy. I’d be interested to hear what others would advise their younger selves if given the chance.

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