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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dear Parents of 22-Year-Olds

Dear Parents of Fresh Graduates,

I am a 32-year-old and the other evening I attended a party full of 22-year-olds freshly released from various educational institutions and, since so many of them are facing the exact same issues I faced at that age, some advice--

1. Stop telling them that they have all the time in the world

Such a lie! Almost every 22-year-old has eight short years to find a mate, get married, learn good relationship skills, get financially stable enough to raise a family AND learn all those things school did not teach them like money management, credit scores, how to rent an apartment and buy furniture, pay bills, cook actual meals, buy and maintain a car and a house, etc.

This is not an easy task, especially for those who decide to pursue a graduate degree. Stop it with all the crap about women having children in their 40's. Yes, it does happen but that is not the dream! Pregnancy is rough and if we want to maximize our chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child, we want to be DONE breeding before we hit 35, not starting at 40.

The truth is 22-year-olds have 5-8 more years of good energy. 5-8 years to really get a career off the ground. That's a ton of pressure and they need all the help they can get to succeed, not this big fat lie that they are "oh so young."

2. Help them rediscover their intrinsic selves

Your kids just spent 22 years doing what you thought was best for them or what their teachers thought was best for them, 22 years doing what they were told, not owning their own time or their own lives. They have a lot of recovering to do that they will either do now or in a mid-life crisis later. School made your children almost entirely extrinsically motivated--they have been trained to do things for rewards, money, prestige, pats on the head, etc. They will lead much more fulfilling lives if they can return to being intrinsically motived, doing things just for the sake of doing them. The best thing 22-year-olds can do is spend the next two years doing nothing so they can rediscover those things they enjoy just for the sake of doing them. Like I said, above, there is no time to waste--this means, no time to waste climbing the wrong ladder. 2 years just farting around and your children will use the next 6 a lot more wisely than their peers who just jumped into the workforce. I wouldn't have been able to do this. I was too desperate to finally start my life but if your kid is... awesome!

3. Support them financially

Do not let your child take a job he does not love because he has to support himself. I had to do that. And that job that paid my bills turned into a career and now I am 32 and... I never did what I wanted. I wish my parents had supported me financially so that I could have worked for free at a job I loved. Or even hated, as long as it was a shitty job on the right ladder. I know you have been supporting your children for 22 years and you are dying for them to be financially independent, but, sorry, it's just not the time yet.

4. Do not let them work for ass holes

In college I learned that any class is awesome if the teacher is. And no matter how much I liked a subject, a bad teacher would ruin it. This is true in life. Stalk your heroes, work for them for free until you can get minimum wage. Apprentice with someone you admire and respect. Do not waste any time on ass holes. It does not pay. In order to climb a ladder to a place you enjoy, you need to be with people you enjoy. The wrong people will introduce you to more wrong people and... it is a waste of your time. Don't put up with a bad boss, don't put up with a boss at all. Don't be a "worker." Be an apprentice and only apprentice with a master you admire and respect.


Perhaps this advice is more about me ten years ago than your 22-year-old and perhaps I will have entirely different advice by the time I am 42. This is why I don't like to "give advice" so much as "share stories" but I quite simply do not have the time to rewrite this post and be the perfectionist I would like to be today. 

Roslyn

PS. I would be very curious to hear other people's stories or advice on this subject!

2 comments:

  1. Hi Roslyn,

    I'm a 21 year old, and about to start my senior year in college. I think that the advice of being intrinsically motivated is one of the best that I have ever got. I don't know when I first heard this, but when I read the Fountainhead back in March it finally clicked with me.

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