Lazy Man & Money did a fun post about fifteen things he’d like to say to his high school self. I always find ideas like that challenging, because I get so caught up in the idea that you do the things you do to learn something. And if you don’t do them, would you still be the same you? But since I suppose you could learn & grow without actually having some of the experiences, here’s what I’d tell my high school self:

1. Make yourself happy, not other people. Quit caring so much what they think about you. Chances are they’re not even thinking about you anyway.

2. Stand up for yourself.

3. Start talking louder, now. This way you won’t be annoyed to no end by people thinking you’re “shy”. They are just confused, and they can’t hear you!

4. You’ll make mistakes, but most of them will be worth it in the end & you’ll learn a lot. Don’t beat yourself up too much, because you’ll make some great decisions too.

5. Wear sunscreen. The song you’ll hear many years later is right.

6. It is ok to fail if you’ve really done your best. The world will still go on.

7. That job you’ll take in a restaurant while still in high school? No, they CANNOT pay you less than minimum wage unless you are actually getting tips. Report them, or demand the tips. Or better yet, get a job somewhere else quicker, because there’s a reason you’ll feel very uncomfortable standing in the walk-in freezer at a certain point. If your head & your gut are telling you different things, always go with your gut.

8. Start saving for retirement now. Open an IRA, and when you’re eligible for a 401(k), contribute the MAX (not just 3%) because you’re getting 100% matching. This is highly unusual! Then, don’t take the money out until you retire. Be sure all your savings are diversified, because there are going to be some major issues with the stock market SOON. And then again later.

9. When you get married the first time, get your husband to sign up for a 401(k) too. He’s eligible. Not only will this help him, but your own retirement accounts won’t get cut in half when you divorce.

10. Do not spend money on other people that was given to you as a gift. Save it, or if you must spend it, spend it on yourself.

11. Do not accept other people’s stress or problems. And by the way, you WILL get that full ride to college, so don’t stress so much during the last few months of high school.

12. College is for meeting people and making connections. Meet some people and stay in touch with them regularly.

13. You need nothing but A’s to get into graduate school in that program you’re interested in, and even then competition is going to be tough since it’s such a small program, so take physics first and get a tutor if necessary. Teaching yourself physics instead is going to suck and reflect in your grades, and you won’t get in. Or, take programming and photography instead. You’re interested in that too & you’ll wind up working & playing with computers & cameras anyway.

14. Use the student fitness center or join a gym and get a personal trainer. Yes, you may feel stupid because you don’t know how anything works and can’t do as much as other people right off the bat. But your health will thank you later and you’ll get over the feeling. Better to develop good habits now.

15. Spend time with your family and tell them you love them. Hug them even though they’re not huggers. They won’t always be around.