Garrison: Don’t learn every lesson the hard way

Zac Garrison Senior from Franklin, Ky.

Teenagers are infamous for being rebellious. Teens like to think their ideas are superior and that external advice is just a suggestion to be mildly considered and not a real lesson.

Even though I’m technically no longer a teen, I’m still plagued with this mental complex.

I live in an apartment on my own, buy my own groceries and toiletries and have manly facial hair now, so I’m a grown man and can think like one, right? Not even close.

Though the first part of what I just said was true, most of the time I still have absolutely no clue what I’m doing.

I feel like this is indicative of a lot of people in my generation. We move off to college, start to be considered adults simply by our age and decide that we can make our own decisions now.

The thing is, how can we make proper decisions for ourselves with very limited real world experiences? This is where teenagers and young adults’ ego and pride get in the way of them actually becoming adults.

Are we adults simply because we turned 18, or are there more qualifications?

For anyone who has read previous columns of mine, you probably know my love for ambiguous and elastic words.

Adult fits right into this category of words that make my cogs turn.

So many people have the definition of this word skewed in their minds and it affects how they make decisions. You aren’t an adult simply because you turned 18. For most 18-year-olds, you have lived in one or two states your whole life, have lived with your parents, have been financially dependent for most of your life and still have no clue what the real world can toss at you.

I don’t consider myself an adult at 20 for several reasons. I’m still financially dependent on my parents, call my mother for advice about the smallest things and embarrass myself while trying to write checks (I know I’m not the only one).

The thing is, when I was 18 and fresh out of Franklin, Ky., I thought I could take on the world and my parents couldn’t tell me a thing. This led to a wild ride of a freshman year, several bad ideas and a little bit too much trouble for my taste.

I learned that lesson the hard way. Seeing my parents trying so desperately to teach me and give me advice and me ignoring them makes me cringe even to this day.

What reason do we have to disregard our parents’ advice?

My father was a boxer, F-15 engine mechanic, night club bouncer, mailman, health inspector, professional body builder and Marine Corps drill instructor and he still found the time to be a positive male influence in my life.

So, why on earth would I think my own life experiences supersede his guidance? Parents and older siblings give some of the best advice when it comes to the real world and I think it’s time we listen.

It doesn’t just have to be parents and family members you listen to though; listen to upperclassmen as well. This is mostly directed toward the underclassmen and incoming freshman that may read this.

Even though I’ve never been a bodybuilder or worked on jet engines, I and other upperclassmen have a lot of wise words to offer young students when it comes to the trials of college life.

I’m about to be a senior, so I’ve had three years’ worth of bad decisions, gut busting laughs and memories I’ll hold with me for the rest of my life. I would love to share some of my tips and advice with someone who will listen.

I’m not saying to ask someone for advice before you make every decision – part of growing up is finding out that wrong decisions can sometimes make you grow as a person and you won’t always have someone there to tell you which decision to make.

What I am saying is that you don’t have to learn every decision the hard way. Some life-altering mistakes could be avoided if you would have listened a little more and scoffed a little less in your younger years.

It’s not about intelligence. Some of the smartest people I’ve ever met make some of the most juvenile choices because of how smart they think they are.

Becoming an adult is a humbling process – you’ve got to realize that sometimes you aren’t always the smartest person in the room and the guy giving you advice might be worth listening to.

Whether it’s a fellow peer giving you advice on what teachers to take for a certain class or your mother telling you if you don’t calm down on the partying you’re going to get yourself in some real trouble, listening never killed anybody.

You’re young. Be selfish, have a damn good time, but keep an open ear. Advice is free and it’s powerful. You never know if something you were told in the past could save your life in the future, so you can’t afford not to listen. You’re going to make wrong choices, stupid decisions and silly mistakes, but when someone offers you help, take it.

You don’t deserve to suffer from poor decision making because you assume you have it all figured out. The world is talking. Try to listen up.


Story by Zac Garrison, Junior from Franklin, Ky.