Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...


Everything but tech support.

0700, 30 Apr 24

Don’t let your regrets be found on a path untraveled

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a look:

Graduation season is upon us. Our youngest two children will accept their college diplomas this year along with thousands of others across the country. As these graduates embark upon the sea of adulthood, I offer five pieces of advice that will serve them well.


First, do not have debt. If you have debt, pay it off as soon as possible and do not take any more debt. This might mean living meagerly for some time and making hard choices, but living without debt liberates you from servitude and creates a foundation upon which to build wealth at any income.


Without debt, every dollar earned can be spent on savings (for gaining financial freedom), necessities (for a life without want), or giving (to make your community better). You will have to resist the temptations of consumerism and get comfortable with having less than your friends. Work hard, be frugal, save for big purchases, and live beneath your means. Your mental health will be better, and your 40-year-old self will thank you for the financial freedom you gave them.


Second, do your own laundry. This is a metaphor to do everything for yourself. You are an adult now. Act like it. Do your laundry. Iron your clothes. Clean the bathroom. Do the dishes. Keep your car maintained. Make the grocery list. Shop for the economical phone plan. Buy birthday and anniversary cards for your family. Make the appointment with the doctor. Go to the dentist twice a year. If you don’t know how to do something, ask or find a YouTube video to show you how.


Doing things for yourself is not just about getting the task done. It is about severing dependency from your parents and giving yourself the confidence and self-assurance that only comes from living independently. Even if your parents offer to do something for you, kindly decline their generosity. You will never be respected as an adult until you act like one. Nobody respects the 24-year-old whose mommy does their laundry.


Third, travel. Don’t add debt to travel, but travel nonetheless. Drive somewhere. Hike something. If you can, fly somewhere. Take a bus. Take a train. Go alone. Split a room somewhere with friends. Camp. Travel to other places. Meet different people. Eat strange foods. Experience different cultures. Whether it’s a weekend in Memphis or a month in Europe, make travel a priority within your means.


Travel is the great teacher. There are things to learn by being somewhere, talking to people, touching things, and experiencing life that cannot be taught from a page or screen. Go educate yourself about the world by being out in it. Break out of your comfort zone or find another one. You will never have another time in your life with as few encumbrances as you have now. Don’t let your regrets be found on a path untraveled.


Fourth, work hard. Irrespective of your chosen profession, working hard will always serve you well. Yes, I know it sounds trite and you might think that you work hard already. Work harder. There are only a handful of things that differentiate mediocre employees from exceptional employees. Work ethic is one of those things.


Doubtless, your first few jobs out of college will be a grind. As the youngest person on the job, you get the most menial, tedious, grunt kind of work. Do it. Do it well. Do it with pride. Learn to grind. Learn to embrace the suck. Every great career starts with the grind and you don’t get to tell war stories as a seasoned professional at the top of your craft if you don’t put in the grind.


Finally, go to church, or synagogue, or temple, or whatever your faith commands. When you are out in the world, you are unmoored from the stable docks of your youth. It can be lonely. At church you will find that stability and a fellowship of people who will help share your burdens. It is also increasingly difficult to make friends as an adult. That is why so many of people’s truly good friends are the ones they met in their youth.


From the Christian perspective, which is my own, church also provides that sense of perspective and contentment that will get you through the tough bits. To know that you are adrift in an infinite sea of humanity across time and space, and yet still seen and held precious by your loving Lord is humbling and uplifting. You do not struggle or succeed alone. You are never alone.


For the graduates, your age of adolescence is over. Now your age of adulthood begins. Go live it.




0700, 30 April 2024


Submit a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest