This crazy thing is happening. My baby brother is starting college. He is installed in his dorm room, with his guitars and many blocks of cheese and mason jars of kombucha — did I mention he’s at Evergreen? As his much older sister, I potentially might be wiser, and even if I’m not, I have opinions. So here, for Aidan, is my setting-out-into-the-real-world advice.
1.Life is easiest when you stay on top of the details. Pay your bills on time. Do your homework on time. Don’t let the hairball in the shower get so big you think it’s a rat.
2. Listen to people’s words: Everything but yes really means no, whether the question is about if you can kiss them or borrow their peanut butter. Respecting what you hear is the essence of integrity.
3. Wear your seatbelt/helmet/condom — hopefully not at the same time.
4. You can’t talk anybody into loving you. See #2.
5. Consumer debt is enslavement to the status quo. Be wary of credit cards.
6. Cars don’t mix with texting/dancing/drinking/deep philosophical conversations/phone calls to your sister. To maximize fun, stay away from cars.
7. Don’t do things you don’t believe in: the integrity of what you do and believe and the love that those beliefs and actions embody is what gives life meaning. However, integrity is not the same as rigidity and judgment. Think of it as a supple rootedness rather than a line.
8. “I’m an artist and need to experience some things,” is not a better rationalization for doing stupid things than “Everyone else is doing it,” or “Woo hoo, freshman year!!!” In other words, lofty bohemians can still do slimy things. Be warned.
9. Speak up for what you love. It’s ok to get arrested if it is for something that matters.
10. School is not worth pulling all-nighters for. Girls are. (But see #1.)
11. Always ask for what you want. Don’t feel entitled to having it given to you.
12. Exploring altered consciousness is a time-honored human pursuit. However, traditionally it is done inside the shelter of a ritual, and in my observation that piece is important. Be picky about what you surround yourself with if you’re exploring — there can be unhealthy rituals too, like when the Mt. Si football team hammered bottle caps into each other’s biceps. Listen to yourself. Substance induced oblivion is not a sign of maturity or awesomeness. Trust me, ok? I’m right. Avoid needles. Meth sucks your soul out and makes you lose your virginity in public restrooms, so they say. Regardless, it’s gross and stupid. The process of making coke is just foul — that stuff is not just a plant. Mexican pot is fueling the drug lord insanity in Mexico. I know too many people who’ve died of heroin. Also, there are many ways to alter consciousness without substances: dancing, playing music, meditation, running barefoot in the rain….
14. Buy your own underwear.
15. Remember your family loves you and we’re here for you, although you better take care of that hairball on your own.