#2. Advice tends to be something you don't truly appreciate until you wish you had taken it. It's not just you; we all do it.
In yet another article, I talked about bad sources of advice, and the overall message there could be boiled down to a single tweet by comedian Kyle Cease:
We aren't just talking about people who are where you want to be in terms of career, but in any facet of life -- emotional, spiritual, financial, mental stability, social status, criminal record. If I ever become homeless and nobody will help me out, I'm taking advice on how to keep warm from another homeless guy who survived last night's snowstorm. But I'm probably not trusting his financial opinions or warnings about the eminent invasion of the Eel Summoner.
It's important to know that, because you're going to get advice from everyone, all the goddamn time. It's good to know how to rank and prioritize that information. But regardless of where we get it, there's every chance in the world that you're going to blow it off because you have this all under control. It's human nature. "My life isn't a catastrophe, so I must be doing something right. Right? Guys?"
It's only later when the doctor is showing you an X-ray of a spot on your lung that you give the ball-crushing attention to his warnings that you are going to fucking die if you don't fucking quit fucking smoking, fucko.
"I'm just going to follow you around forever, doing this until you stop being a fucking idiot."
We all do it. People will do it to you when you get to a position in life where your advice isn't laughable pig farts and actually starts carrying some weight. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don't know. Probably a little of both, I guess, depending on the situation. But the point isn't so much about right or wrong as it is the overall lesson of "Be aware. This stuff happens, so take notice."
#1. Self-control is the hardest skill you'll ever have to master.
From birth until the day you move out on your own, pretty much every facet of your life is controlled by someone else. Parents, teachers, babysitters, the secretive, nameless guardian who taught you to kill from the quiet embrace of the shadows. There's always someone looking over your shoulder to prevent you from fucking up. "Don't run in the house, you'll get hurt." "Don't stab that guy, you'll go to jail again."
So from the time we're old enough to rationalize, we're trained that nothing is truly under our own control, and if we do happen to fuck up, the most we have to fear is getting grounded, spanked or yelled at. When you enter adulthood, that all changes literally overnight.
"Probably best not to follow me in. I'm going to be naked before the door closes."
For the first time, you'll be put into situations in which the only person you have to answer to is yourself. How will you react? Take away the teacher -- do you start slacking off? Take away mom and dad's rules on junk food -- do you start eating at McDonald's every day? Take away the police patrols -- do you strip naked and set houses on fire, cackling like a crazed hyena?
This is what we're dealing with when we talk about things like addictions, teen pregnancy and obesity (the type that's not tied to a physical cause, of course). It's an area in which the only person who is going to give you hell is your future self. Are you prepared for that? I wasn't. Hell, I'm not sure I know anyone who was. Because keeping yourself in check when the temptation is there to just take the easy way out is excruciating: "Man, I don't feel like cooking tonight. Maybe I'll just order a pizza again." Yes, others may voice their concerns about your choices ("Dude, you're pushing 300 pounds, and you've eaten pizza every day for two months"), but nobody is going to step in and force you to get your shit under control, unless it's flat-out breaking the law. That's your thing now, and failing to master that self-control could fuck your life right on up.
"CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG! Wait ... why am I chanting 'chug' when I'm the only one here?"
It's probably best to just accept this one right now. I didn't until I was in my mid-30s, and it damn near killed me. You're better than that. But if all else fails, at least remember this article in 15 years. I'll either be one of those guys I mentioned earlier who's completely full of shit, or it'll feel strangely prophetic.
John has a Twitter where he regularly gets mistaken for John Cleese.
For more Cleese, check out 5 Reasons Life Actually Does Get Better and 5 Reasons You Should Never Take Advice from Celebrities.