16 May To the class of 2011
It’s once again the time of year when naive young people everywhere are thrown out into the world amongst positive messages of hope for their futures. Somehow every single local high school and college mistakenly(?) passed over having me as their commencement speaker. If Snooki has been tapped to give a motivational graduation speech (really, Rutgers?) I cannot possibly do worse. Here is my completely unsolicited and unprofessional life advice to this year’s graduates….
Common sense is the most understated and undervalued attribute in the world. Try to display it as often as possible.
Happiness is a choice. You are not entitled to anything other than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit. Meaning you have to pursue it for yourself. If your dream is to become a cyborg ninja superhero, that’s cool. But it’s not just going to magically happen by itself. In fact, if that IS your dream perhaps you should lay off the meth. It is not the fault of your parents, the government, or Steven Spielberg if you do not end up filthy rich, surrounded by beautiful people and yes-men on your mega yacht.
People will tell you that you can be anything you want to be. Its a nice sentiment, but it’s f*king stupid. Know your limitations. All the plastic surgery in the world isn’t going to take me from 5’1″ to 5’10”, so I know that being a Victoria’s Secret model or WNBA mentor is not going to happen for me. Guys, you will never be a Romanian gypsy or paid big money and given a national tour after you’ve done enough coke to kill Chewbacca (only Charlie Sheen can do that). Find your own balance of optimism and realism.
Never put up with anyone who acts like they are better than you or treats you like crap. Avoid having them in your life at all. Granted, there is no way to avoid all the pricks in the world. Unfortunately it is their right to put you down to make themselves feel better. It is not your right to kick them in the balls and stand over them and say “I TOLD YOU I am a cyborg ninja!” Do not do this. You will likely be charged with assault at best, and institutionalized at worst. Because life is not fair.
In your personal relationships, don’t’ go out of your way to do anything for anyone who’s apathetic or indifferent towards you. Or, do.
Borrowing money is not the way to go (extenuating circumstances like medical emergencies and job loss notwithstanding). If you don’t have the cash for something, you can’t afford it. Live within your means, because dammit, the rest of us do not want to support you. Contribute to a 401K or IRA. By the time you are old enough to retire to a life of golf that includes questionable wardrobe choices, Social Security will be bankrupt and your own savings will have to sustain you. That Iphone 6 you just shelled $500 for is going to be worth $50 tomorrow when the Iphone 6.8 hits the market.
Try really hard not to step in dog poo. Do not dry clothing on high heat, and know how to change a tire. Do not waste valuable minutes of your life trying to neatly fold fitted sheets. It is perfectly acceptable to ball them up and throw them in the closet.
Do not let society pressure you into marriage and children. Not everyone is cut out for parenthood. It’s the most emotional, financial and permanent committment you will ever make. If you do opt to have children please do not let them run around in restaurants or feed seagulls on a crowded beach.
Enjoy coffee, but do not depend on it to complete your existence. A coffee shortage is not license to be nasty to those around you before 11 a.m.
Don’t tell everyone in cyberspace every detail of your day. They don’t care. Always assume that anything you do online can come back to haunt you anytime and anywhere. Just ask Mark Foley or any of the other people out there who have lost jobs over Facebook posts. Familiarize yourself with privacy settings.
No human relationship is perfect. So if unconditional love and affection are what you seek, get a dog. If you would prefer to be snubbed anytime you walk around without a can opener, get a cat. If early morning chatter is your thing, consider a parakeet. If you enjoy taking care of high-maintenance people, consider getting a saltwater loving, temperature sensitive tropical fish. If all you want is to be left alone, get a poisonous reptile or arachnid and let it play outside the tank.
Any conclusions reached after four or more Jack and Coke’s should be slept on and reconsidered after 2 Ibuprofen and ten hours of sleep. If you still want that pizza or to call your ex when you wake up, you will know that your feelings are real. Or you could still be drunk. Go back to bed.
Celebrate milestones with reckless abandon. No occasion is too small to celebrate. Call your mother.
If you love someone, tell them (unless that person is already married to someone else. Nobody likes a home wrecker). If said person is acting like an irrational shithead, tell them that too (perhaps paraphrased). A relationship that is not honest is not truly real. Use discretion, though. Sentiments that include “Your baby bears a striking resemblance to Ross Perot” and “I would love to have sex with your(daughter, sister, ex, brother)” should probably be downplayed.
If you are not sending a text message, take the time to write out by the way, fuck my life, or laughing out loud. As a society, we are one social media character limit reduction from communicating entirely in acronyms. I beg you to learn the difference between there, they’re and their. If you are not a celebrity or business, please do not be narcissistic enough to think that there’s any earthly reason that people should follow you on Twitter.
Too often tragedy has to strike before people realize not the take what they have or the people they love for granted. Appreciate what you have before it’s gone. The only guarantees in life are change, death, and $1 tacos from 4-7:00 every day(!) at Mother’s. The fact that any day could be your last is all the more reason to regularly delete your search history and make your profile picture one in which you are not completely wasted.
Once a year go somewhere you have never been. See as much of the world as you can afford to, whether it’s one town or a entire continent away. Don’t go somewhere and eat something just because it didn’t kill Andrew Zimmerman.
Do what you love, but do not emulate anyone you see on MTV. They may be entertaining, but nobody is going to pay YOU to be really tan or a teenage parent. If you want to be taken seriously by anyone over the age of 19, do not wear anything involving Ed Hardy or Affliction.
There is a difference between being honest and being an asshole. Gently telling a friend that her lipstick shade doesn’t quite flatter her skin tone is honest. Telling her that she looks like a transvestite hooker is being an asshole. This is why the quality of your friendships is infinitely more important than the quantity. It is better to have one friend who tells you that the last wave knocked your areola right out of your bikini top than to have five friends that tell you what they think you want to hear.
Enjoy nature, but be vigilant in checking for ticks. If you give someone a fish, they will eat for a day and possibly hound you for seconds. If you teach someone to fish they will be arrested by the DNR for lacking the proper permits, and feeding them will become law enforcements problem.
Don’t’ drive like a jerk. Take naps. Don’t marry someone out of convenience, or because they are super hot. Marry someone you can laugh with. Because when his dick no longer functions and her boobs sag below her belt, it will be neither convenient nor hot. But if you can laugh about it life will be hilarious and you will be the “it” couple at The Golden Corral on Tuesday nights.
Remember that tattoos are permanent. Piercings and hair dye are not. Choose how to express yourself accordingly. If you want to world to know that you have strength, courage, faith, whathaveyou, tell the world in a language that you can read or speak. Otherwise risk humiliation when you go out for sushi and the friendly staff does not have the heart to tell you that the emblem on your calf that you swore meant Peace actually means Fart or something, because they guy who inked you doesn’t speak that language either.
Take these messages and do with them what you will. After all, what the hell do I know? I’ve gotten better advice and wisdom from fortune cookies than from most people. Some people say their glass is half full. I say, are you gonna drink that? Your happiness in life will be directly linked to perspective. What will yours be?