Dear the young people,
I am speaking to you know from the future. Actually, the present, but your future. I am here to tell you about what we in the real world like to call "the real world." This is life, the one you live, so go and suck it up (with apologies to you, Ms. Romano). So many books exist which tell you about the rules of life and being an adult and they, well, they sugar coat it so being an adult seems like a reasonable and fun thing to do. Sure, I can set my own bedtime. And yet I keep falling asleep at 8:30, often while driving. Sure, I can eat whatever I want. But also have to pay for it (monetarily and digestively). I can watch R rated movies. But I have to pay for the tickets so I start to evaluate if the movie is worth the hours of my day and I usually decide that it isn't.
So in the pursuit of full disclosure (which I can do because I'm an adult) I present some real rules about life as a big person. Start taking notes because this is the good stuff, bucky.
1. Doing your best isn't good enough. I know, we have been telling you that all that matters is that you try your hardest and we'll be proud of you. Lies. Insidious, damned lies. Mostly because this allows you to do less than your best and claim that you couldn't do any better. But we watch you play with your phone or load up a movie and say "I'm done" and we know that it isn't really your best so we don't need to be proud of you. And let's say that you really did work really hard on something and still came up short. Should we pat you on the back and say "well, you tried and that's what matters"? Will that heal me? Will I feel comfy driving my car as long as the mechanic tried his best. Sorry to be mean about it but the world expects you to get things right, not right-esque. There is no A for effort. There is an E and it is perilously close to F.
2. The world doesn't care. That doesn't mean that no one in the world cares but that the world will keep on spinning even if you have a splinter. Whatever your excuse about not having stuff done, the world will keep on moving. If your boss needs work done and you don't get it done, he will find someone else who can do it. As a wise man once told me, "the cemetery is full of irreplaceable people." Get it right, get it done and move on. Stories don't get you out of what is the only commodity that matters: results.
3. Everything has to be top priority. Don't tell me that's illogical sport-o. That's the way life is. Everything is on the front burner all the time. This is why we call it stress and not "that relaxed feeling of knowing that you can take care of things on a comfy set of rolling deadlines." We want it all and we want it now. No apologies to Queen. So you have to work more hours than exist? Welcome to the world.
4. Life isn't here to be easy or amuse you. The world isn't going to cater to what you want and what you expect. You are here to cater to it. So what if that other guy didn't do his part. More work for you? Deal with it. You say your job is no fun? Can you pay your bills? Not being able to pay your bills is 'not fun.' Being able to afford to keep living in your house is a fricking laugh riot. You can't have steak every night, or every week, or sometimes, every year. The exception? If you win the lottery (literally or metaphorically) and trust me, that isn't happening. Why? Because I know you and I don't know anyone that lucky that I can sponge off him. So sorry sad sack. Set that alarm, pack your brief case and get back to the grind of the rest of your life.
5. You don't get a trophy just for participating. You get a social security number and a set of bills. Someone else has a trophy and you are going to have to pummel him with a shovel and pry it our of his cold, dead fingers, and then be on the constant lookout for the next guy hiding a shovel behind his back.
6. It doesn't get better, you just, in some way and to some degree get used to it. More starts to hurt. Less works the way it used to. Things stop being the kind of simple fun that you remember from the sanitized memory of what was, in reality, a pretty crappy youth. You begin to realize that things never were particularly good. People were always mean and flying was never really safe. You just want to lock the doors to your house, curl up in a ball and never move again. Guess what? The guy at he bank doesn't care. He dragged his sorry self in to work that day so when he comes to repossess your dentures and he sees you hiding from the world, he's going to be doubly annoyed.
7. Life IS work. Nice guys finish first or last depending on so many things that they can't always control. Be nice simply because you think it is the right thing to do regardless of life. Don't think that you get rewarded for being a good person. If you are a good person then you act that way because you don't know any other way to live. And then you work your butt off to go above and beyond what anything thinks is required or even a bit impressive. You spend every waking moment wondering how you can do whatever it is better than anyone else, and you worry constantly that you haven't pushed hard enough.
Old Man Rosen