Pearls of wisdom for the new graduates | Opinion


Can you believe it’s happened again? Shockingly, no school asked me to address the Class of 2021. But, I was prepared with some pearls of wisdom:

Pizza and beer are not basic food groups. At least glance at a vegetable now and then.

If you like tennis shoes, buy tennis shoes, but don’t pretend you’re making an investment. How many pairs of Nikes has Warren Buffet bought?

You don’t have as much time as you think you do. Trust me on that.

There’s nothing wrong with drinking a cold beer on a hot day. If you find yourself home alone at 1 p.m., depressed and drinking warm, flat, nasty beer–there’s something wrong with that.

You’ll never regret being the bigger person.

How to succeed in life: Pay attention, work hard, don’t lie and help others when you can. That’s the magic formula. Oh, and nobody owes you anything.

Learn to look interested, even when you’re not.

Shaking hands willy-nilly may never be the norm again. Wait until he/she extends a hand.

You don’t have to go to church to be a good human, but it doesn’t hurt.

When you’re poor, buy peanut butter and apples. Man can’t live on ramen alone; I know this from experience.

Unfortunately, mean girls and bullies aren’t limited to high school. Don’t engage and don’t stoop to their sad, petty level.

Never brag about what you’ve got. It’s tacky.

Everyone needs someone who won’t lie to them. If you don’t know that person, be that person.

It’s good to have a life plan, but be flexible enough to pivot.

You’re a role model for someone, whether you know it or not. Behave accordingly.

Take care of your teeth, or they’ll cost you a fortune before you’re 40.

Find a mentor. It’s not hard; most people are flattered/pleased to share their experience.

Don’t take your health for granted; when it’s gone, it’s gone. Sleep well, exercise, hit pause on the Doritos and Twinkies.

If you have a temper—like I do—learn how to dial it down before your whole life becomes a lesson in regret.

Don’t spend all your free time on social media/playing video games. You won’t make bank doing either. If you need a stress-reliever, join a gym, volunteer or learn to knit.

At this age you should know how to change a tire, check the oil, dance, write a thank you note and cook a meal. (Disclosure: To this day I can’t change a diaper, and I have no regrets.)

It’s never too late to learn new skills.

Listen more than you speak. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Never play poker with a red-headed woman.

Live beneath your means. How do you think rich people got rich?

Set goals. Then figure out how to reach them.

Someday, someone will take credit for your work or ideas. Simply state your truth and keep going, knowing that karma never fails.

Watch your weight. Your knees, heart and blood pressure will thank you.

Make your bed every day. That way you’ve accomplished something before you even brush your teeth.

Working a second job won’t kill you. It’s amazing how many successful people have a side gig.

Lonely? Get a dog if you can walk it three times a day; afford vet care, shots and meds; and never stay out overnight or take a last-minute road trip. On second thought, buy a plant.

Learn to love leftovers. Already you’re saving money!

Given a chance, most people will do the right thing.

Julie R. Smith, who took forever to learn the basics, can be reached at

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