What Richard would tell the 18-year-old version of himself

By Richard Zowie

This time of year for the newspaper, we’ve been busy with high school graduations. I took pictures of both Faith Academy’s and Marble Falls High School’s graduations. Both ceremonies took me back to 1991, when I and others from A.C. Jones (Beeville) High School wore black caps and gowns and braved the non-air conditioned Bee County Coliseum (now the Bee County Expo Center). Thank goodness neither our valedictorian nor our salutatorian both chose short speeches.

As the Flames and Mustangs received their diplomas, it made me think of my own life since high school.

At 18, my plans were to go to college, get a journalism degree, write fiction novels and by my forties be married with four kids.

Life has certainly not turned out as planned.

The newly-minted graduates have certainly received plenty of advice already. Here’s what advice 45-year-old Richard Zowie give to his 18-year-old self:

Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something. There’s nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know” as long as you’re willing to find the answer. Granted, there are some questions this lifetime we’ll never know. 

Treat your elders with respect. They’ve been around the block more than you have. Inevitably, they’ll know a few things you don’t.

How do determine what to do for a living. Make two lists: one would detail the types of jobs you’d love to do. The second list would be jobs that pay well. Cross reference the list until you find a job you like that pays well. If you don’t see your job, then train for a day job that pays the bills while you can spend your off-hours working on what you really want to do. 

Take time for yourself. All work and no play indeed makes Jack (or Jacqueline) a dull boy or girl. Relax. Enjoy hobbies. Get some sleep.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There’s nothing wrong by earning life experiences through mistakes, but if you learn nothing from them, then you’ll inevitably keep making the same mistake again and again. 

So, you’re discouraged that you didn’t do better in high school? Don’t be. One mistake I made in high school (I graduated 29th out of a class of about 200 students) was to assume that making good grades meant things would just fall in place. Wrong. If you want success, you have to work hard and pursue it relentlessly. Study. Work. Make connections.

Don’t be in a hurry to get married.One of my favorite Bible teachers is Dr. Charles Swindoll, and he once made what I believe is an incontrovertible observation about marriage: the only thing worse than being single is being married to the wrong person.

Go out and have fun. Meet people. If you meet someone you like, spend time getting to know them. If they seem equally interested in knowing you, that’s a great sign. Ask your parents what they think. A parent (something I’ve been for around 20 years now) have this notion that only the best will do for their child and sometimes Mom and Dad can see the great signs and red flags that you might be oblivious to.

Take the path that’s less traveled. Sure, seeing the lack of worn-in tracks might be intimidating, but sometimes that means people don’t know what they’re missing.

Email Richard at: richard@highlandernews.com

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