Growing Pains: Words of Wisdom from a Veteran Grown-Up
♦ 30 is NOT the “New 20”. It’s The “New 35″…♦
“Maturity is a High Price to pay for Growing Up”
— Sir Tom Stoppard, British Playwright.
Before I get rolling on this, I apologize for going nearly three full months w/out updating this thing. I have been bombarded with so many things that this blog somehow got lost in the shuffle, which is completely unacceptable. So for you, what few consistent readers of this blog that I actually have, I greatly apologize and Welcome back.
Well, now that I got that shit out of the way, let’s get down to business.
DETROIT — It is June 10th, which means college graduations have already gone down and high school graduates are springing up left and right. First and foremost, Congratulations to all the new High School and College grads, with a special shout going to all the new Alumni of Renaissance High School, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University (BTW: “Alumni” is plural. “Alumnus” is the singular form) . This means there are a lot of new people entering an entirely new world, especially if you are from Detroit because about 75% of you HS grads probably have never been outside of Detroit for more than 5 days at a time. As much as my family traveled during my childhood, including: New York, Miami (3 times), Orlando (twice), Tampa (Busch Gardens), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Atlanta (twice), Philly, and Nashville, I never really got to know any place other than Detroit. So when I hit Michigan State’s campus for the first time as a student on August 28, 1997, it was a legit culture shock to me. Bluntly stated: I wasn’t used to being around THAT many White people. That was just the start of my growth, and today, I am hear to impart my wisdom of 30+ years of living on you youngsters. Let’s Go.
I honestly wish someone had told me when I was 17 years old that the best years of my life had basically just ended (or maybe someone did, and I just didn’t pay any attention to them. I was hard-headed. I probably blew them off…but anyway…). One thing that many of us over the age of 25 can attest to is that shit is not as easy as it seems once you become a grown up. One of the dirtiest words you’ll ever hear is “Responsibility”, and how it seems that you have to take it with you everywhere like an American Express card. You often find out the hard way what that word means. While I can’t share everything with you here, here’s a short check list of what I feel every teenager (especially TODAY’S teenagers and young adults) needs to hear. Hell, who am I bullshittin’ here? I know a large number of cats my age and 10-20 years my senior who need to pay attention to what I have to say. Time to have some fun.
- Lesson #1: The Word “Hater“, or any derivative of such, should be eliminated from your vocabulary by age 25. One of the first things you need to know is that Not Everyone will like you. Get over it! I know that hurts to hear that because you have spent a majority of your life being led to believe that you are the shit and everyone else around you are the flies, but you in fact are NOT the Shit. Not even close. The sooner you figure that out, the better off you’ll be. When you’re 19 and feeling yourself, it’s semi-acceptable to claim that “These Bitches be out here hatin’ on me.” By age 30, you look like an insecure, childish coon. People are not gonna like you and everything you do. Some people are assholes. In many cases, you are the asshole. But whatever the case, just because someone doesn’t immediately co-sign on what you’re doing or like someone or something immediately, regardless of how horrifically bad it is, that doesn’t make them a “Hater.” Just means they don’t like it or You. They will live and so will you. If I gave a shit about what a lot of people thought about me, I’d have shot myself when I was 16. To put it in another way: A very intelligent, yet eccentric, young lady I know, dropped one of the greatest Tweets that Twitter ever tweeted a year ago when she said: “@Carmelita_W: If you are talentless/without ambition/retarded/morbidly obese/illiterate/foul smelling you do NOT have Haters! Some people just don’t like you!” Think about that before you dismiss someone as a “Hater.”
- Lesson #2: What You Do in Your 20s will stick with you for life. Choose Wisely. We all have pictures from High School and/or College that makes us say: “WTF was I thinking wearing THAT!?” Yes, while I’m sure you thought wearing Cross Colours Overalls was gonna be the new hotness, you looked like a damned fool then and you probably do now. We all make questionable decisions. Some of us make terrible ones. When I was 19 years old, I was just finding myself in East Lansing. I had an afro. I defiantly listened to bad rap music (What’s Good Master P!). I discovered that women of other races weren’t so bad. And I thought my shit smelled like Sparkling Spring water with a twist of Lemon. There wasn’t a damn thing a professor could tell me. By the time I was 23, I was an MSU Graduate and strolled out of East Lansing with a GPA of 2.43. Let me say that again so it can sink in: Two-Point-Four-Fucking-Three. Yes. Jay Scott. Whose High School GPA was those same three digits, but in a different order (3.42). A dude whose farts are smarter than a lot of you. I basically took 2 years off at Michigan State and I’m still paying the price for it. I had to get into Grad School at Wayne State on a Provisional Basis (meaning I had to pass an entry level class w/a B or higher just to be fully accepted). My current GPA at Wayne State is 3.51, but my slackeration in College cost me big time. I’m still basically paying for it right now, and I don’t just mean student loans. If you are fortunate enough to get into a legit school, I’m not saying don’t party and have a great time in college. ENJOY YOURSELF. But dammit, Go To Class. You and/or Your Parents are paying a grip to keep your punk ass up there, so make the most of it. It’s not easy…but it’s not meant to be.
- Lesson #3: Money is like your Woman. Take Care of Her and She’ll Love You Long Time. This is short and to the point. Most of us, and by “us” I mean Black Folks, spend money like the shit’s got an expiration date. Part of the reason a lot of you are living at home w/your moms, yet pushing a nice whip, is because you don’t prioritize when it come to your bread. Once you are over the age of 25, flossin’ is no longer cool…especially when you ain’t got it. I know there’s that dumb-ass song that says “It ain’t trickin if you got it!” Actually, that’s EXACTLY what it is! So stop being tricks and protect your money.
- Lesson #4: Humble Yourself. Here’s a list of the non-radio jobs I have worked since 2000: Guest Service Supervisor (Detroit Zoo), Custodian cleaning bathrooms and Vet. Science Labs (Phys Plant @ MSU), Customer Service Rep (Marshall Field’s), Cashier (Target), Bank Teller, Office Temp Worker, Delivery Driver/Sales Rep for Jimmy John’s, Sales Assist. at Spectacles. There isn’t a single gig that I listed there that I enjoyed doing. NOT ONE. I did them because I had to. The problem that I see in a lot of these young cats (age 23 and under) is a disturbing sense of entitlement and lack of general work ethic. A lot of you think that you are “too good” to do any of the jobs I listed and would rather be broke waiting to make it big. To use a baseball analogy, instead of trying to hit a homerun, try just getting on base and see where that takes you. Humble yourself! (Women, this applies to your asses too.) Would I rather be hosting a nationally syndicated sports and hip-hop show and writing columns for ESPN? Well of course. While I’m still convinced that will happen, I gotta make ends meet. Remember, Jesus Christ had a 9 to 5, so you can have one too.
- Lesson #5: Life’s Not Fair…especially when You’re Stupid. The other phrase I’d love to see stricken from the Adult lexicon is “That’s not Fair.” Life stopped being fair the second you got to Jr. High. Are there inequities? Yes. You either make the adjustment, or move on. Do the most qualified individuals always get the job? Hell No. Do Black people have it tougher than Whites? Yes. Always have, and always will. #GetOverIt. They are allowed to say, do, and get away with more dumb shit than we can. #GetOverIt. No matter who you are, life’s gonna be tough on you when you are Black in the United States. It’s doubly tough if you’re stupid. Just ask Kwame Kilpatrick. As Chris Rock put it “Just because they’re fucked up, we can be fucked up! That’s Ignorant!” Learn to account for life’s unfairness and tilt the scales in your favor. (PS: Black People, Not everything is about Race. Occasionally, your ass is just wrong in any color). If you spend your life waiting for a handout and a fair shake, the only thing the world is gonna give you is the finger…The MIDDLE!
- Lesson #6: 30 is NOT the “New 20”. Finally, if you are fortunate enough to get to 30 years old, embrace it. Contrary to popular belief, 30 is in fact NOT the “New 20”. It’s the same old 30. I can fully attest to it. At 20, I had an afro, could eat whatever I wanted w/out working out, drove a ’98 Tracer, lived with my parents, and had never paid rent. At 30, I’m balding, paying multiple bills per month, drive a truck with nearly 160,000 miles on it, and work out 3 times a week just to stay in shape. Don’t be afraid to have fun, but at the same time, GROW UP and FAST. Because before you know it, 21 becomes 25, becomes 30, becomes 40…and then what. Get off that childishness and get like a grown up. Or not. I could always use more examples of how not to do it.
One other thing I forgot to throw in there: Everything your Parents told you as a kid was right. Before you turn 30, you realize that. Be sure to thank them…as much as it hurts your pride…Do It! (There’s Lesson #4 right there). Trust me, it’ll be one of the best conversations you’ll ever have with them, so do it before it’s too late. In closing, I could’ve written 20 lessons on being a grown up, but hell, just like I had to find out, you live and you learn. The two are not mutually exclusive. But you don’t have to believe me now. Check back with me in 5 years and tell me I was lying. I bet you won’t!
Until Next Time, That’s The Way It Is. Thursday, June 10, 2010.
The 201st day since the Detroit Lions’ Last Victory
Take Care, God Bless, Always Dare to Be Different, and G.O.M.A.B. Σ
P.S.: This week, Detroit Radio lost a Friend and a Legend in “Tuff” Terry Nicholson. The man was a mentor to numerous Detroit Jocks spanning over 35 years. RTFM, WGPR, and all of Detroit’s Radiophiles Will Never Forget what You Gave to All of Us. RIP: Tuff Terry Nicholson, 1955-2010.