I'm reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin right now, and am about half way through. At the beginning of the book she has Twelve Commandments and Secrets of Adulthood. I don't know if I will venture as far as to write up twelve commandments for myself as I would rather stick to the 10 Commandments in the Bible, but I thought about secrets of adulthood that I've learned in my 24.5 years of life. I remember once for a creative writing class having to write "10 Things I Learned From____" (I chose my mother…I might have to dig that up…)
Anyways, here are a few tidbits of wisdom I've gleaned from living in CA, TN, AL (and 5 weeks of living in GA):
*Note, these are not ranked in any particular order.
1. If you know you will be out and about for a while, bring an apple with you from home before leaving the house. It will keep you from being tempted, when hungry, to run to Starbucks and get coffee AND a sweet that will likely push you over your daily calorie allowance and daily budget at the same time.
2. Always go to the bathroom before you leave. One time I was about to leave my internship and head to my weekly chiropractic appointment on a very rare, snowy day (in TN). I had to use the restroom, but decided to wait until I got to my chiropractor's office because I like the smell of the hand soap in his bathroom. By the time I drove the 5 minutes it took to reach his office, it had really started snowing, and sticking! I reached his office and found it locked. I checked my cell phone, and sure enough, had a voicemail from his office saying he was closing up for the day because of the snow. So, I still needed to use the restroom, but thought I would just wait until I got home (a 30 minute drive) to use my own bathroom instead of pulling over at a gas station. People don't know how to drive in snow in The South. You would have thought it was snowmageddon! It took me over 2 hours to get home because of all the snow-induced traffic. By the time I arrived, my worried roommate tried to hug me, but I just pushed her off and made a bee-line for the bathroom. Lesson learned: use the restroom before you leave.
3. Check your email account at least one a day. These days the "I didn't check my email so your message sat there for three days before I even saw it" excuse (…whether it is an excuse or is reality) is just unacceptable. If you have secondary email accounts, check them at least every 7-10 days. You never know when someone from your past may have shot you a fairly important message, and your old email account is the only way they have to contact you. Bonus: if you check your email daily you will most likely avoid the dreaded inbox pile up.
4. I agree with Gretchen Rubin: always bring a sweater. My mom instilled this in me at a very young age as she was always freezing (…in San Diego the AC is on year round in most restaurants/ stores). She thought we, her daughters, would be freezing and then she would have to give up her sweater that she sensibly thought to bring along to one of her poor, freezing children. If you are one of those "always warm" people, God bless you; I'm jealous.
5. Write thank you notes for all gifts you receive. If you are one of those people who "don't know what to say besides 'thank you'" look in an etiquette book--seriously. I'm always a little surprised when I give someone a present and they don't write a thank you note in return. Don't send a "thank you email" or write them a message on Facebook--just, send a card the old fashion way.
6. When in doubt, write it down, store it away for three days, and then come back to it and see if you still want to send it. I once remember my rhetoric professor saying that anything that went on the internet was "instantly achievable and instantly changeable" meaning that as soon as your post something on Facebook, someone could read it, copy and paste it, and therefore it is instantly archived. It is also instantly changeable in that you can normally go back and edit anything you've previously posted online. I've learned the hard way--even if you are ranting and just letting off steam, word will probably get back to someone and then you will be embarrassed. I've learned that if I write it down, store it in my desk drawer, and come back to it after three days and still want to post it online, then it's probably pretty important. Most times I look at what I've written and think "Phew! Glad I had enough sense to put that aside and not post it on the internet."
7. Learn the art of persuasion. My father is in the real estate business, and he's also an entrepreneur. We used to play this game with a deck of cards called "Salesmen". I'm not sure where he learned it along the way, but the whole point of the game was to practice persuading others. A good salesman can think on his feet, and can twist a person's words to get them to buy whatever it is he is selling. Now, mind you, I'm not saying "con everyone you can." I'm saying learn the art of persuasion. There may come a time and place when your idea really is the best one out there, but you can't get anyone to accept it. In those instances, you will be glad you know how to do a little persuading.
8. If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. It's just really good advice.
9. If you ever find yourself in a position to be invited over to dinner at your boss's house (or your husband's boss's house), come prepared with some possible conversation starters. My great aunt always used to read 2-3 pages of the newspaper before leaving for a dinner party. That way, if there was a lull in the conversation, she could very easily bring up something she read about in the newspaper. It seems a little corny, but what's worse than those terribly awkward seven-seconds of silence? Not much, in my opinion. Warning: steer clear of overly-political or religious subjects. Graphic retellings of murders or rapes that you read about in the headline are also not welcome conversations among a crowd of polite company.
10. When someone else talks, try to really listen to what they are saying, especially if it someone whom you are meeting for the first time. There's nothing worse (except for those terribly awkward seven-seconds of silence at a dinner party) than seeing someone whom you've met a few days/weeks earlier and then having nothing to talk to them about because you can't remember their name, or what it was they said they did for a living.
So there is just a short list of ten of my "secrets to adulthood". As you can tell, most of them have to do with social situations. I am a very social creature, and was brought up in a very social, very polite society. I believe good manners will get you very far in life, but I believe that being a good conversationalist will get your even farther.
What are some of your secrets to adulthood?