My Advice to the Young People

I am younger than a lot of people I know, but I am also older than a lot of people I know. Bless them, most of the younger people seem to think I know something, because they are always asking me questions about how to do things, like get a job or publish a book or make basil-kale pesto. (The last one I do know, and the reason people could ask me was because I just made it for them. Actually, my boyfriend made for us, but I totally watched and so I know. And, no, I cannot tell you how to get a boyfriend who makes basil-kale pesto. I have no idea how I did that.) In any case, I have blathered a lot of advice over the years about networking and agent-hunting and enduring endless rejection. It may or may not have been useful.

Here is the only piece of advice that I am sure applies to everyone, and that I wish I had known sooner: You should do stuff. You should have your career, yes, and you should work hard at it, but you should also do things you probably suck at, or are at best mediocre at. To this end, taking up running and starting a band were the best things I ever did after the age of 30. I am a slow runner; some people walk faster than I run. I’ve been running for five years, and I get only negligibly better at it. I will never be a good runner, and I love that. I love not feeling the least bit of pressure on half-marathon days. I’m not going to set a record, and if I do, it will be more due to the particularly fast pace of the Pink and Britney Spears songs that come up on my running mix that day than it will be to any athletic prowess.

I am also a decent, not great, but very passionate singer. I am a struggling, but invested, guitar player. Naturally, I teamed up with a friend who’s a professional opera singer and plays serviceable drums to start a ’90s rock cover band called No Ambition. Naturally, I, not the professional singer, am the lead singer. Naturally, we play a version of Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” that includes a flute solo. When we play a “show,” that mainly means we convinced a critical mass of our friends to come out and indulge us for 40 minutes or so. Why do they do this? I don’t know. But I know we have an outrageously good time. I particularly enjoy messing up — there’s nothing more freeing than finding out you can screw things up with a room full of people watching you and skate right through it.

Now you, too, may enjoy some of our less-than-perfect work here:

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3 comments

  1. Every experience teaches. We can’t help it, whether we admit to having learned or not. All living things are wired to learn. That may be one definition of “living thing.”

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