Twenty years ago today, I graduated from high school.  Holy buckets, batman!  Twenty freaking years!   And if you’re a kid, you’re saying “you’re old” and if you’re an adult, you’re saying “I know.  Where does time go?  I can’t possibly be that old.”  (But you are.  If you need proof, we didn’t have internet, cell phones, or boxers hanging out of sagging jeans.  Hence, we are old.)

But the good news is, I’ve learned a few things.  Now, would I first recommend Bill Gates’ advice on life?  Yes.  Do I have a few things to add?  Yes.  Are you shocked?  No.

Lesson #1 – Avoid pot-stirrers.  They suck the life out of you behind your back.  Always surround yourself with good people.  They’re damn hard to find, but worth every penny, beer, and bowl of ice cream you have to bribe them with to keep them around.

Lesson #2 – Balance.  Sure, it would be smart to balance your checkbook, your schedule, or weight, but really, the way I see it there are the things you need to be doing and the things you want to be doing.  Rarely do they mesh so you have to balance between the two opposing sides.  If you can do that, you’re effing amazing.  Just sayin’.

Lesson #3 – Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, unless of course that forces your hand to donate more to the local 4-H or church, coach a little league team that’s coach-less, or scoop the elderly lady’s driveway.  If it’s to buy a pretentious car you can’t afford or put your children in a private horse club because that’s what the snotty bitches at work or next door do, then man up!  In the real world, people like other people who have principles and integrity, not stupid sheep baaing at the herd.  (Boy, do I hate sheep!  They climb fences.  They’re loud.  Damn lambs.)

Lesson #4 – Be who you are and don’t look too close at it.  Twenty years later, I still don’t fit in with the crowd.  I still am a little overweight with bad teeth and a smart ass (it’s also big, but I prefer to think of the smart part).  On the other hand, I am not so un-okay with myself that I have to have plastic surgery to fix my wrinkle creases on my forehead or suck the extra dimples off my butt.  Just don’t stare in the mirror too long or judge your checking account too harshly and all is good.

Lesson #5 – Family first.  Hate on whoever you want after that, but spouses, kids, parents, siblings, and whoever else you’re related to should get first priority.  Why?  Why wouldn’t they?  We are often worst to the people who are the closest to us because they have to love us no matter what.  Hence, love them no matter what and do what you can to be a member of the family without coddling.  Don’t be juvenile and not talk to them.  If you are an adult, act like one.

Lesson #6 – Money makes life easier so work your ass off for it.  I know they say all that bullshit about money can’t buy happiness and it can’t, but it can buy an easier lifestyle.  When you don’t have to panic about money or your health, life gets pretty easy.  That’s just a little secret between us though.  I wouldn’t want anybody else to catch on.

Lesson #7 – There will always be someone smarter, prettier, or more successful than you, but the flip side of that is that there will always be someone dumber, f-uglier, or more loserish than you… unless you’re in jail for murder or rape, in which case, you’re at the bottom of the barrel.  You need more than my life’s lessons, dumbass.

Lesson #8 – Show consideration for others.  Pleases, thank yous, sorrys, and here, let-me-take-thats pretty much make you better than most.  However, don’t ever think you’re better than everyone else, unless you’re comparing yourself to murderers, rapists, or those stupid people that drive 45 in the fast lane.  Actually, it’s probably just best that you don’t compare yourself to others, but if you figure out how to not do that, shoot me an email.  Twenty years later, I still haven’t grown out of that one!

Lesson #9 – Age is relative.  Lots of people spend the first 21 years wanting to be older and the rest of their lives trying not to be.  Personally, unless you were a rockstar in high school, things only get better from there.  My teen years sucked.  My twenties were frustrating but okay.  My thirties:  they’re pretty damn good.  In fact, you reach a point where you can’t even remember how old you are without having to think about it.  And most people won’t care or talk about it too much unless of course you’re a tanned piece of leather hunched over, too thin, and coughing up a lung from emphysema or having a mid-life buying-a-convertible-doing-a-21-year-old breakdown.  Seriously.  Age only matters to the young.

Lesson #10 – Be selective.  Work.  Think. Play.  Help.  Vacation.  Love.  Just don’t settle for less than you deserve on any front even if there’s pressure from all other fronts.  Success is a mind-set and you’re only as good as the decisions you make and the belief you have in what you’ve done.  Put that on a Hallmark card and call it advice.

20 years ago today, I graduated from Oakland High School in a place I still call home.  Today, I can tell you I’m not rich.  I’m not famous.  I’m not a good dancer, but at the end of the day, I can walk away knowing I pay my bills, I have Siri to answer my questions, and I have a husband who will probably say good things about me at my funeral…probably.  Not bad for 20 years.

Got anything to add?  Would love to have you add your lessons learned.  Hit the comment button.