For my son, as you head out on life's adventures, from a mother who tried desperately not to F it up (...and perhaps did)
(Obviously the more personal parts of this letter have been left out, but the bulk is still here in case anyone else finds value in it)
1. When it comes to finding the right girl, make a list of all the things you feel are important in a partner. When you are finished, look carefully over the list and set to work BECOMING THAT PERSON. God will provide the rest.
2. Always do what you say you will. Make your word your bond.
3. Accept credit for your accomplishments with grace and humility, and give others credit whenever you can. Being gracious will never return void.
4. Hold the door open for others.
5. Two important things in life are love and money. Don't believe the lie that 'love is all you need', because that is crap and is only spouted by people who already have money, or don't have any and are clinging to the fairy tale. Both are necessary. Life is best when you work hard to produce them, and they belong to you and not someone else.
6. Nobody ever made actions done out of spite, envy or revenge look acceptable. When these things are clearly the motive, you will look like a jerk. Period. The best course of action when these feelings arise is to carry on and succeed despite the actions and choices of others. Taking the high road will allow God to fight your battles without the mess of you getting in the way. He's always better at it anyway.
7. Never waste people's time or insult their intelligence with lame excuses. They've heard them all already and they won't believe you anyway. Be unique and try honesty. It happens so rarely that people find it a refreshing surprise. More often than not, they will grant you grace.
8. If you EVER let your underwear hang out of your pants (migrane forming) so help me there are no words for the shame you will bring on your family.
9. You were raised to be the best of men, but don't, even for a second, ever think of treating anyone as beneath you. NOBODY likes that guy. Check out any fraternity and you will see what I mean. They are crawling with that guy.
10. Everyone is pretending. You are not alone. Nobody is as cool as they appear. It is OK to fake it, in fact it is an essential survival skill. So on those low days when you feel like a fraud, just remember, the other guy doesn't have it all together either.
11. Please spare your fellow man. No one wants to see a photo of your meal, your feet, or your right eyeball.
12. Don't rest on your laurels. Yesterday's homeruns don't win today's game.
13. If a street performer interests you enough to stop, he's earned your money.
14. If it is already burning, put down the lighter fluid and back away.
15. Never leave a wedding without dancing with the bride or shaking the groom's hand.
16. There is just no good reason EVER to look in a woman's purse. Hand it to her or another lady to do the dirty work.
17. Stand up when you shake a man's hand. No exception.
18. Have the other guy make the first offer in a negotiation.
19. Put the seat down.
20. Putting a frame on a poster does not make it art.
22. If you wonder if a lady is pregnant, keep it to yourself. It is never OK to ask. NOT EVER.
23. Freud was wrong. Let's move on.
24. Only post online content you would be OK with your grandfather, boss or daughter seeing.
25. Asking anyone about salary or politics is asking for trouble. Avoid it at all costs.
26. Help your friends move.
27. If you dress in drag, go ALL THE WAY- don't sell it short.
28. If you borrow a car, it goes back with the gas tank full.
29. Good clothing will open doors. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
30. Brush and floss. Seriously.
31. Surround yourself with witty people and life will always be fun.
32. Never burn bridges.
33. Find other people that have what you want and keep company with those people.
34. Remember names.
35. Drink water. Yeah drink more.
36. Good hygeine is attractive. Deodorant is not optional.
37. Don't leave anyone hanging on a high five, no matter how much it kills you.
38. The only thing you may regret more than smoking are the photos of yourself smoking.
39. Be mysterious.
40. The only difference between truth and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.
41. Get a library card.
42. Everyone teaches you something. Learn the lessons.
43. Normal is just a setting on the dryer.
44. Fight the system if it is immoral or flawed, but never cheat people.
46. Stories improve exponentially when you 'do the voices'
47. To avoid awkward situations, don't name pets after real peole.
48. Chillax will always sound dumb. Pixar couldn't even pull it off in Dispicable Me.
49. If someone is making money selling you something; don't ask their opinion.
50. Buying something of quality once is less expensive than replacing cheap crap over and over again. You get what you pay for.
51. If you grow your hair long, you are inviting people to touch it.
52. Take every offer to travel to new places.
53. If it's on the internet and looks fake, it's fake.
54. A foolproof way to keep your personal life private is to NEVER post it online.
55. Chicks dig grammar.
56. Own your mistakes. People will respect you more if you admit when you screw up. Apologize, make it right, and don't do it again.
57. Always have a plan B
58. Sleep is great, but don't exchange it for the excitement of doing new things.
59. Develop a win-win thought process. It isn't always easy, but work at thinking about things from all angles to come up with solutions where everyone benefits.
60. Dont argue with women. It's a waste of time and energy.
61. Don't pick on the weak; it's ugly and cheap. Only jerks suckerpunch. Don't piss off the strong with out a really good reason. It's stupid. If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough.
62. Learn from those who came before you, deal fairly with your peers, and mentor those who come after you. Networking is a combiniation of all 3 and are important to your reputation and success.
63. Understand that very few people have your best interests at heart. Your parents and family are about it. Everyone else is too busy looking out for themselves. That being said, be compassionate, even when others are ugly to you. Everyone has issues and most of the time it has nothing to do with you...but also, don't let people take advantage of or abuse you. Never be afraid to say "This isn't working out" and walk away. This applies in both business and relationships.
64. Understand that there are things beyond your control. Past, present and future. Being at peace with things you have no power over is key to happiness. Just trust that it will all work out as it should.
65. In peer pressure situations, other guys respect the one who says 'that's stupid' and walks away. Mostly because they wish they had the guts to do the same but could never figure out how. No matter how much heat you take, it's worth it.
66. Do hard things.
67. Eat your fruits and veggies.
68. If you take a girl out, pay.
69. If you can't afford a 20% tip, you can't afford to eat in a restaurant.
70. Popped collars...just, no.
71. Half your age plus 7. Date any younger and it is just creepy.
72. If you see a girl eating from a half gallon of ice cream with a spoon, just walk on by. You don't want to know.
73. Your jeans should not be tighter than a girl's.
74. Always respect a girl who can drive stick shift.
75. Not everything will sound as good 'out loud' as it did in your head.
76. Read for fun.
77. Write down your goals and dreams.
78. Appreciate beauty, humor and irony. Point it out when you see them, because not everyone can recognize them at first.
79. You will not be young forever. One day your co-workers will be younger than you. The next, your boss will be younger than you. Someday the President will be younger than you, and before you know it the Pope will be younger than you, and then he will die. Cherish the youth you have and the abilities that come with it. You will miss it when it is gone.
80. Never EVER speak badly to others about your wife or girlfriend. She should know she has a partner who backs her up against the world (even when she is wrong).
81. Don't be an internet troll. Live life.
82. If you do something that goes 'against the norm' expect to be harrassed and prepare a defense.
83. Things break down and need replacing all the time. The more you plan and save, the less it feels like a disaster and crisis when it happens.
85. Make marriage the sacred commitment that it is. Don't marry until you are prepared for a lifetime of joy and compromise. It is both wonderful and difficult. Never cheat. Date your wife your whole life and enjoy her as your partner and best friend. Raise your children to respect and honor her. Take the word 'divorce' out of your vocabulary and off the table as an option before you take your vows, and never use it, no matter how rough the argument or situation.
Picture in your mind the end result of a lifetime of commitment and work backwards to where you are in any given moment, always asking yourself if what you are doing or saying is leading you toward that end result. If it isn't, FIX IT. Never stop laughing together, holding her hand, or seeing her beauty. Be the first to apologize. Listen. Talk. Above all, trust God to be there and stand in the gap of your shortcomings and hers, understanding that only HE can be all things.