Twenty years of wisdom on the small things, the big ideas and everything in between

Last weekend was my 20th birthday. It also happened to be my deadline for this article. So while crouching over my laptop and getting an intellectual hard-on for politics is still one of my favorite pastimes, I wasn’t about to make that the highlight of my weekend. Instead, here’s a list of some of the things I have learned in my 20 years on this earth.

Regarding family: Parents are not perfect and do not know everything, but still know a hell of a lot more than you. Consider taking their advice from time to time. Or keep doing it your way. Either way, you’ll likely find out they were right from the beginning.

Regarding birthdays: Remember them. Some time in October is not a birthday. Facebook posts don’t mean a thing. Pick up the phone.

Regarding friends: Don’t be brash. Mean what you say. Listen more than you guide, and never judge. Vulnerability is a prerequisite to companionship. Forgiveness is a process that is slower than most rivers and more delicate than a house of cards. It deserves to be treated as such.

Regarding sleep: Sleep is one of those things in life that is both a necessity and a privilege. The more you treat it like a necessity, the better. Also, never take a nap without setting an alarm.

Regarding frisbees: Good for a multitude of things – catching lizards, eating crackers in bed, practicing drum rudiments.

Regarding relationships: Don’t try to fix anyone. Figure out everything else on your own.

Regarding alcohol: It will not fix your problems. Use in moderation.

Regarding ice cream: See “alcohol.”

Regarding gratitude: Gratitude makes the world go ‘round. Don’t apologize when you mean to say thank you. Don’t say thank you when you mean to apologize.

Regarding politics: Read the news. Have informed opinions. It’s okay not to know enough about a subject to have an opinion on it. Again, Facebook posts and hashtags mean nothing. Pick up the phone and call your representatives. And never, ever pass up an opportunity to vote.

Regarding the future: Try to have absolute gratitude for what is ahead. Surround yourself with good people and be disciplined in what you love. Always be one of your top five best friends. Embrace the unknown. Expect nothing. Fear nothing.


Mackenzie Karbon is a sophomore majoring in jazz performance. Here’s That Rainy Day, runs the first Thursday of each month.

Featured image courtesy Flickr user Summer Plane.