It didn’t take long to discover that parents, teachers, and friends were wearied by an endless barrage of questions. In fact, a discovery was made that they didn’t have the answers to many of my questions.
Then, in about the sixth grade, a treasure trove of information was found — A Library. Books galore, each with a story to tell, chock full of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. An education was just waiting for me.
As time marched forward, I learned much from the stories of others. It was one of those “Good News — Bad News” storylines. The Good News: I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel for each excursion into a new frontier. The Bad News: The view only changes for the lead dog.
Moral of all Stories: We can learn from others all that they know — and, no more.
Unless we want to follow others, forever, there is a point of departure from the known, into the unknown. In fact, we can never duplicate the experience of another by listening to the stories of how they did something.
We are unique — our experiences will be, too.
Once our formal education ends, the real learning begins. The process is aptly referred to as the “School of Hard Knocks“. There are plenty of assignments, pop quizzes, final exams, and lessons to be learned. We choose the curriculum and face the consequences of our choices.
As our eyes are opened to Universal Principles, we quickly learn that there is a ‘right way‘ — a way that is right for us, individually. That way is different for each of us and can only be learned by courageously taking the steps along our, individual, journey of life.
No one else can do it for us. All of the stories from other people are of limited value. This life is ours — we are Trailblazers. There are no maps for territories, yet, to be discovered.
Upon our return from the wilderness, we have stories to tell and an education to share.
The cycle repeats. Young people receive a glimpse into the world that waits. Soon, they leave the stories behind to do it — Their Way — and, then learn: Good judgment comes from experience; Experience comes from bad judgment.
Over the course of our individual journeys, we learn that it takes both —
Education and Experience.
Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teenager uses the phrase “It’s not fair” 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.
Rule No. 2: The real world won’t care — as much about your self-esteem — as much as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it’s not fair. (See Rule No. 1)
Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won’t make $60,000 a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a Gap label.
Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait ’til you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he’s not going to ask you how you feel about it.
Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren’t embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.
Rule No. 6: It’s not your parents’ fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of “It’s my life,” and “You’re not the boss of me,” and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it’s on your dime. Don’t whine about it, or you’ll sound like a baby boomer.
Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room, and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.
Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn’t. In some schools, they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone’s feelings are hurt. The effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4.)
Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters and you don’t get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don’t get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we’re at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)
Rule No. 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.
Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.