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naivete's avatar

What is your best advice for the young people of this generation?

Asked by naivete (2458 points ) April 21st, 2011

By young people, I mean anywhere from 14–25 years old.

What is it that you think we should know? What would you have changed about yourself at that age? What can you teach us that is of value (in your opinion)?

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36 Answers

HungryGuy's avatar

Pee high and bury your poo.

TexasDude's avatar

Don’t major in underwater basket weaving in college.

Even if you really, really want to.

HungryGuy's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard – The mods are gonna throw both our asses out of here one of these days :-p

TexasDude's avatar

@HungryGuy I’ll have to throw myself out, then :-p

And I’m actually serious. A whole generation of kids told they can grow up to be their own rainbow went to school and picked useless majors myself included, to an extent, minus the debt and then graduated with massive amounts of debt wondering why their degree in warlock studies didn’t land them a job.

HungryGuy's avatar

Serious answer: Don’t overprotect and shelter your kids from the world. Let them take risks and learn what life is all about. Let them go outside and play with neighborhood kids without constant supervision. Let them get dirty. Let them have fun. Encourage them to talk to strangers (but never go anywhere with a stranger). Let them learn freedom. We’re headed toward a future generation of people who are learning to accept total control from authority and that we are all terrified of each other. (That’s a bad thing).

naivete's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard
So what major would you recommend then? It’s definitely hard deciding what you want to major in… and the hardest question is deciding between passion and well paying (potential jobs), for me at least.

Bellatrix's avatar

Yes you can do it. You just have to believe it (I have deja vu. I know I have said this before).

And for some (not the majority I am sure) no, the world does not owe you anything. You are not entitled to anything that you don’t work for and earn and you don’t deserve to be paid top dollar when you have no real experience.

Enjoy your life. Live it to the full. It will fly by so don’t limit yourself and put things off until tomorrow.

Whatever it is that seems so, so terrible, it probably isn’t and tomorrow is a new day and things will get better.

naivete's avatar

I think Stephen Colbert puts it best:
“Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.”

TexasDude's avatar

@naivete, apparently engineering is the key to health, wealth, and eternal salvation. Stuff in the hard sciences is a close second.

Pretty much anything that doesn’t sound fun or exciting that involves a lot of math will get you far… or so I’ve been told numerous times.

For the record, I’m a history major who graduates in a year. I’ve been told by dozens of people that I’m practically cursed, even if I go for a law or graduate degree. Oh well. Haters gonna hate.

naivete's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard
Yeah, that’s pretty much what everyone else tells me. Sciences is the way to go, apparently.
Unfortunately, I dislike math… a lot. So it’s either getting over my math phobia or something in the arts.

thorninmud's avatar

This is really going to make me sound like an old fart, but what the hell…

There are many things about yourself that you can’t change – your IQ, for instance. But there is one attribute that you actually can expand, and many psychological studies have demonstrated that it, more than any other mental attribute, correlates with well-being later in life. And that is self-control, the ability to override your impulses.

Four-year-olds who demonstrate the ability to defer gratification are much more likely to do well in school, form strong relationships, and land satisfying jobs in adulthood. (study).

And this is a skill that can actually be cultivated through exercise, especially during the late teens when the brain is most actively establishing neural connections between the prefrontal cortex and the midbrain.

There may be no better investment you can make in your future than to learn early on how to not just do what appeals at the moment.

Blackberry's avatar

Save money for emergencies.

ddude1116's avatar

You are not special.

diavolobella's avatar

@ddude1116 Or conversely, everyone is special, not just you.

WasCy's avatar

If I had known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself. No one at 17 can imagine himself or herself at 57 – 67 – 77 or more. But they’d by God better try to.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@naivete Please ignore the naysayers in your life and go with what you are passionate about. I’ve seen way too many people major in a subject and get a job only to quickly find out that it wasn’t for them. The ones that soldier on are essentially miserable, and it impacts the rest of the workplace.
* Live within your means and create a budget. As @Blackberry says, put aside money for emergencies.
* If the opportunity arises, live in a different state, county or even country.
* Don’t do anything against your better judgement if some internal time-clock starts ticking more loudly and you still aren’t married and/or don’t have a child.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think young people today are going to have to learn how to be even more flexible and comfortable with risk taking than my generation (X. Hi.) has had to be. The days of going to school, then college, then getting a job you can have for a good 8–10 years are over.

When you get some money, invest some in stocks and put some in long-term investments like IRA’s and whatnot ASAP. There might not be a societal safety net for you – and I’m including countries like India, Japan, Sweden and the UK in this advice. There will barely be a safety net all the Boomers, much less one for us X’ers.

Have that beginner’s mind and keep learning your whole life.

Learn skills that are applicable in more than one area.

Know how to promote those skills in more than one area.

Do that thing and work on that idea that’s been tugging at the back of your mind.

Even more so than in the past, the world belongs to those who would take the big risks in creating something for the greater good.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

You can’t always get what you want.

KateTheGreat's avatar

1) It’s never a good idea to major in philosophy.

2) Always wear a condom.

3) Think for yourself. It’s one of those rarities these days.

4) Don’t spend your money unless you have it.

5) Learn a language or two. It actually helps.

6) You don’t have tiger blood, so stop acting like a know-it-all douchebag that thinks they’re invincible. Think about the future.

jonsblond's avatar

Always put a small portion of your paycheck into savings before you do anything else with it.

Blackberry's avatar

And don’t waste your life away playing videogames online. It may be fun, sniping noobs and taking an 8-man team to pwn Fafnir, but there’s no reward.

woodcutter's avatar

Respect your elders. Almost all of them have been there done that, some of them many times.

TexasDude's avatar

Here’s another one… and yeah, I’m serious about this one too:

Don’t make old men mad. They might kill you and they are usually deceptively strong… like… freaky strong.

KateTheGreat's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard You sound like you have a strange story behind that one! :)

woodcutter's avatar

Learn basic preventive auto maintenance, especially how to change a flat tire on the side of the road. It amazes me that so many people stay stranded because they A: fail to notice an obvious mechanical disaster ahead of time that causes the stoppage, and B: do not have a clue what to do if it happens (and it’s gonna) trust me. Just knowing how to change a flat (assuming you have made sure the spare is not flat) can save you a ton of grief, from the unscrupulous mechanic to highwaymen who pounce on you kids and rob you and other stuff.
and for shits sake DO NOT piss off old farts ever.

janbb's avatar

“God bless the child that’s got his own.” (In other words, don’t count on your parents or the government to provide it.)

AmWiser's avatar

In all your endeavors, search for truth, as it is only the truth that will make you free. And at what @janbb said.

TexasDude's avatar

@KatetheGreat, surprisingly no, but I know a lot of old men who are freakishly strong and whoop exponential amounts of ass on a regular basis.

KateTheGreat's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I’m quite surprised then! I know quite a few war veterans that are pretty kick ass. Gotta love those old guys!

BarnacleBill's avatar

Opportunity shows up wearing overalls and looks like hard work.
Things don’t just happen by luck. You have to work at making them happen.
Math can be learned. Check your work, correct your mistakes, ask for help.

JLeslie's avatar

Spend time with people who are honest and caring, and you be honest and caring as well. This goes for friends, family, and SO’s.

Marriage can be wonderful with the right person, and horrible with the wrong one. Make a list of top 5 things you want in a spouse and look for those things. Date for at least a year before marriage, and time for an engagement as well. Remember, someone honest, caring, that is two of your 5 already. Strong work ethic and responsible are good ones also.

Save money. Money = freedom.

Try to seek a mentor at your place of work to guide you.

Working hard and being prepared is what will make you able to sieze a great opportunity when it presents itself. People who are lucky, usually are actually doing just this, they are qualified for opportunities when they come up.

Have fun! Enjoy happy moments. Take time to really soak them in.

Don’t drink, or do drugs, or smoke. It is a huge waste of money, and not worth the risks to your health, or the possibilty of addiction. Well, a few drinks now and again are ok, but not on a regular basis is my recommendation.

Buttonstc's avatar

Shakespeare said it best years ago:

This above all, to thine own self be true.

Especially for the younger ones: be your own person. NEVER be afraid to stick up for your values regardless of what your peers are trying to pressure you into. They will not be there for you when the consequences fall on you.

This can refer to anything from drug use to unprotected sex (and pregnancy) and includes lots of the unsafe stuff posted on YouTube by young guys thinking that imitating Johnny Knoxville is cool. The ones daring you to do it won’t be paying your hospital bills.

Be your own person. Don’t be afraid to go against the crowd.
Especially in High School or college.

ddude1116's avatar

@diavolobella I like that better, yeah…

math_nerd's avatar

DO NOT START SMOKING I started at 17 and now I am 33. It fucks you up and is damn hard to quit. I have probably tried 20+ times and failed each time. So just don’t start.

16 damn years of smoking a pack a day:

-Limits the number of people you can hook up with
-Averaging things out I have spent about 17K on smokes
-I used to be able to run away from muggers. Now I hand them my wallet and ask for a light.
-It really fucks up your teeth

janbb's avatar

@JP I wish you could quit.

WasCy's avatar

In support of all who mentioned “risk”: learn to embrace it. Don’t go looking for it and creating it where it doesn’t exist (such as in gambling, foolish dares and dangerous behavior such as drug use and smoking), but learn to recognize where it exists in the world naturally… and pursue it.

I’m not an unhappy person, and I don’t have many regrets in my life, but… I wish that I had started my own business when the risk was much lower than it is now. If I had started working for myself when I had nothing, then I would have had nothing to lose. Now that I’m relatively secure (as much as one can be these days) in a career, I’m “comfortable”, but my cousin, the guy who mows lawns for a living (and is nearly a decade younger than I am) takes almost half the year off, owns a vacation home in Maine, travels to Florida for baseball’s Spring Training, and makes a lot more money than I do, too. And he mows lawns for a living.

Be your own boss. Make your own job. Find your own customers. If you fail, then learn where and why you failed, fix the mistakes and try again.

The United States was not built by “wage earners”. It has taken me too much of my life to learn that simple lesson. If enough of the rest of the country doesn’t learn it, then the future of the country (and maybe of the world itself) is not going to be as bright as it could be.

Find risk, embrace it, and make yourself a business handling it.

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