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Hey buddy. This is meant for my child in particular, but it can apply to anybody who lacks a father figure. If you find yourself needing some guidance in these increasingly turbulent times, I want to reassure you that you're doing fine. Even so, we all need help at times, so consider the below a personal chart to help you navigate the choppy waters of adulthood.

1. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

We call this the "golden rule", and too often we desire to act out on our baser impulse when treated with disrespect. This is understandable and sometimes even justified. But the consequences of losing your cool and further escalation really only does more harm to you in the long run. The wiser individual chooses their battles and only retaliates when absolutely necessary. Besides, the toes you step on today might be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.

2. Never take an unpaid internship.

It's a scam. It always is. They get free labor out of you for months for the possibility of a position there. Furthermore, once they know how little you value yourself, you will have less bargaining power than an outside hire. It's the "sunk cost" fallacy. Sure, they're offering you less than the guy down the street, but you've already put in so much time here. You don't want it to be a waste. And after all promotions and raises are surely right around the corner, right? Don't fall for it. They are asking you to do a tough job that they need done and probably involves hard work and travel. Never accept less than you are worth. Never let somebody disrespect you like that.

3. Take care of your car.

If you're lucky enough to get your own vehicle, it's a responsibility. Learn how to do at least basic maintenance on it. At a bare minimum, know how to check your oil, refill your washer fluid, jump your battery, and fix a flat tire. But it pays to go the extra mile and get a manual for your car. Every job you can do yourself is one less job you'll have to pay for. But even if you have to pay for it, make sure you are getting that service done. A well-maintained car is a lot cheaper in the long run than one that's about ready to break down. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You never know when you might need to take a long drive.

4. Don't be afraid to travel.

Especially when you are young, single, and relatively unrooted. Not everybody has the means, of course, but jump at any opportunity you can. Even if it's just a trip around your home state, getting outside the town you were raised in and seeing how others live can be very enlightening. Most especially be willing to look for trips that will take you out of the country. We can become very insulated in our own culture that we completely ignore the perspectives of others. If a job will take you out of state and feature a lot of travel, jump on it! It's very helpful to be constantly on the move, as you don't know who might be looking for you.

5. Respect nature.

While you're traveling, take some time to visit some national parks and take in the scenic vistas of your homeland and abroad. In an increasingly industrialized world, we often forget that we are just children of this tiny blue dot in space, and we have a duty to safeguard it for the future. Be safe, and make sure to secure your food from bears and other wild animals. If you sleep with anything edible in your tent you might be the next meal for some hungry coyote. Put out your fire completely by dousing it in water until it's cool to the touch. Don't wander alone in the woods at night. Or whistle. "Leave it as you found it." Don't take souvenirs from these places outside of photos, and don't leave anything except footprints. And, if possible, cover your footprints behind you when you leave.

6. You get what you pay for.

Price doesn't always guarantee quality, but if something is cheap, there's usually a reason for it. This doesn't just apply to products, but also lodging. Sometimes spending a little bit extra on a hotel will get you a nicer room and keep you free of bedbugs. Finding a hotel room without any mirrors is basically impossible, but it's handy if you at least have a separate bathroom. Blackout curtains are good too, and a sturdy lock. Shame there isn't much you can do about the TV. Oh, that reminds me…

7. Limit your screen time.

I know, heresy in this constantly online generation. But believe me, too much net consumption can rot your brains as quickly as TV rotted mine. Try for two hours a day on the weekdays and four on the weekends. Though try to see if you can go lower. I'm down to about ten minutes a day. I usually don't have much more time than that anyways. You can get distracted from what's important. Besides when the screen is turned off your phone can act as an emergency mirror. That can be handy at times. Sometimes it's the only way to see them.

8. Practice good hygiene.

I know it's a little gross to bring up in mixed company, but honestly, this is very important. Make sure every day begins with a shower and vigorous tooth brushing. Don't go out in underwear you've worn more than once and clothes you've worn more than twice. Change your socks, comb your hair, and look presentable. Shave your facial hair so that it's neat and trimmed. If you're growing it out, still shape it. You only get one first impression, so make it a good one. Soap can also help mask your… let's say "natural musk". This can be handy if something is trying to sniff you out. Use hydrogen peroxide and cold water to get blood stains out of your clothes. Sunglasses can hide the redness around your eyes from crying.

9. Eat healthily.

Food is fuel for your body. Junk food might taste good, but it's aptly named. It's junk. Our bodies rely on a delicate balance of vitamins and minerals for bodily function as well as a proportional caloric intake for raw energy. A little treat now and then isn't a big deal, but make sure you're getting what you need. Drink water as often as you are thirsty and limit soda and over-sugared juices. Don't skip a meal, especially breakfast. It's important to keep your strength up after you've been up all night. Prepare your own meals, so you know they're safe. Don't look in the water.

10. Learn another language.

Being bilingual is a gift unto itself. Along with your native tongue try to learn other languages spoken commonly in your country. If you get really good and have the time, try to learn three or four. I'm up to seven myself. It's difficult having to do it using old textbooks, but I manage to get by. But just because you speak in many tongues doesn't mean you'll always understand people. I've gone as far back as Aramaic, and I still can't understand what they are saying. I don't think it's a human language, but I have to keep trying. Sometimes I just wish they would stop talking altogether.

11. Show up to appointments early.

Did you make a promise to be somewhere? Show up before you're due. This is twofold advice. First, it's less about actually being early and more about assuring that you aren't late. We tend to lose track of time and can find ourselves in a rush to get somewhere, which is both reckless and stressful. But it's also good advice and shows that you are taking the appointment seriously. Make sure you bring everything with you that you will require. Sometimes the things you need will be provided on-site. Never forget the black book.

12. Worry about yourself first, others second.

This might sound selfish, but you can't help anybody if you can't help yourself. You can avoid a great deal of stress by making sure that you are good to go before taking on any additional burdens: emotional, physical, or spiritual. Look out for number one, as they say. Remember that the person you are interacting with chose for this to happen; maybe they want power or are just curious. Don't stick around. Don't listen to their screaming.

13. You can't go back home.

Sometimes it helps to call upon childhood nostalgia when we're feeling blue. There are ways we can capture bits and pieces of that simpler and happier time. But we have to remember that we are here now. Don't lose sight of the present wishing for something you can't claim anymore. Even going back to the old homestead won't solve all your problems. You're still afraid to look at mirrors, after all.

14. Invest in a sturdy lock for your home.

Most commercial locks are garbage and home security is nothing to sneeze at. Get high-quality stuff no matter the price. A latch that secures from the inside and several backup locks wouldn't hurt. Be sure you can clamp down your windows and have thick shades. Shatter your mirrors. Keep all the lights on.

15. Learn to read between the lines.

Most people are only going to tell you what is socially acceptable to say in any given setting. We're a polite people and we often are bound by this contract of civility to avoid saying what we really mean. It's beneficial for your fellow man if you learn to "take a hint". Sometimes you might even say what you mean out loud but in a dismissive or sarcastic way. Sometimes you might hide your messages at the end of a long rambling paragraph in the hopes that it will be read by the right person.

16. Say what matters to the people who matter.

It's never a bad time to tell those people who matter most to you that you love them. That your life wouldn't be the same without them. That the things you have done, no matter how terrible or difficult they might be, you have done for them. You might not ever get an answer back. You might not know for certain if they feel about you the way you feel about them. But say it anyway. Sometimes it's all they need to hear. And sometimes it's a relief just to say it yourself. I love you all.

17. Respect quiet hours.

Most places have a code of conduct about this. Usually, it's between 10 PM and 7 AM. During the day there's a general understanding that people have lives to live, and noise is part of sharing a house with neighbors. But people also have to sleep. Or at least, you hope they'll go to sleep soon. If you're listening to music, use headphones. Pay attention to the shuffling sound downstairs and make sure it's not getting any closer. Lean back against the door to your room. Even when the scratching turns to banging, don't make a sound.

18. Keep a tidy home.

Now, this is something that I know a lot of your generation struggles with. A clean room is its own reward. A tidy space improves attitude and prevents accidents. And don't just shove stuff under your bed or in your closet. It helps to have a well-organized wardrobe so you can always find what you need. Plus, sometimes you might need to use your closet for something else. If you have a closet that locks, good. Otherwise, just keep quiet and hope.

19. Learn some basic first aid.

Know how to clean wounds and properly bandage them. Learn about poisons and any local hazards to where you live. The thing about an emergency is it can happen at any time. A little bit of time studying today could very well save your skin tomorrow. Just remember that some wounds are outside of your skill and don't be afraid to go to the hospital if you need it. Sometimes not even they can help though.

20. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

I started with it and I'll finish with it too. Because it bears repeating. If you bring harm to your neighbor, it always finds its way back to you. If you do something wicked because you think you have no other choice, it always, always, always, finds its way back to you.

Be good, please.

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