Just the other day, I realized that I graduated from high school 20 years ago this week. It got me to thinking about what I have learned in those twenty years. This is what I have come up with as advice for our recent graduates:

Listen to your parents - Sure, they are probably very repetitive, and you might think you know a lot, but they know more. Most likely, whatever it is they tell you most often, you should listen closely to. They are hoping against hope that you will listen and avoid the mistakes they made.

Work as hard as you can while you have the energy - Now is the time in your life to show what you are capable of. You are young enough to have sleepless nights and survive. You are young enough to take on a lot of stress and not have it really disrupt your health. Chances are, if you work as hard as you can for the next ten years, you will not have to work very hard after that. Ten years sounds like a long time now, but it flies by.

Fake it 'til you make it - Don't let anyone think for a second that you don't know what you are doing. If you pretend to know what you are doing, and are convincing, people will believe you. They will invest time and money in YOUR future. Then, when you find yourself in over your head, ask someone who truly knows what to do for their advice, they will help.

Failure happens - You will not do everything right. You will make mistakes and you will live to make more. No one cares, everyone has been there. Do your best and make your mistakes now.

Save money now - I wish I had. Even with car, rent, and student loans, you will likely have enough leftover for savings. It will help in a big way.

There is no relationship that is worth more than your future - You may think you are in love. You may ACTUALLY be in love, but just wait on all the big stuff. Don't rush to get married or have kids.

If someone says you can make $3,000 a week working from home, they are lying - We all fall for it once.

Don't do hard drugs - You know what drugs I am talking about. It will set you back by a lot of years if you are lucky enough to survive a dependency.

Identify what you love in life and make it your career - Do the math. Most people are happy on the weekends only. There are five other days that can be awesome for you if you insist on being happy every day. My job has it's not-so-great parts, but I'm happy seven days a week, not two.

If you see something on the ground and can't identify it, don't pick it up - You kick it first to see if it moves.

"It is what it is" is not a real thing - It's a thing that people say when they hit a road block that makes them feel better about not pushing through. It can be whatever you want it to be.

If you start dating someone and their parents seem awful, they are - Run, it will get worse.

If you are surrounded by knuckleheads, stop it - No friendship, no matter how many years you have invested in it, will be likely to survive your work schedule and your future relationships. Make new friends who don't make dumb choices.

Be nice - I'm not always nice. I wish I was, because it pays dividends. Everyone, at one point or another, in their life needs a helping hand. If you are a rude A-hole, you will have a hard time finding someone to help you when you need it.

I'm not preaching. I am far from perfect. These are things I wish I had done a better job with. If I had, my life would be better than it is today. Most people ignore their elders and do what they want. It seems silly to do that, though. If you ask 10 people who are older than you for their advice, you will probably find that they will all say very similar things. There has to be a reason for that.

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