Monday, August 19, 2013

Forum: What do you feel you know now about life that you wish you'd known when you were eighteen ?

Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher's Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day. This week's question: What do you feel you know now about life that you wish you'd known when you were eighteen ?

Simply Jews: That it (the life) succeeds to be too long and too short simultaneously.

Liberty's Spirit: As the parent of two youngmen with autism spectrum disorders, the thing I wish I knew at 18 that I know today, is how to "embrace my inner bitch." Throughout our lives, we women are told to be quiet, to be gentle, to be circumspect in how we deal with issues that are important to us. What I learned as I needed to advocate for my sons, is that when you want something done properly you not only need to speak up, but at times you need to be forceful, dogmatic and unswerving in your beliefs, whether you are fighting with educators at every level (secular or religious), school districts, post secondary institutions, workplaces or even medical professionals. Remember though, "embracing your inner bitch" doesn't mean being vulgar, ignorant nor threatening. It is using your intelligence, education and ability to reason in such a way that you leave no margin for argument, nor prevarication. It is showing strength of purpose and strength of character.

To many this means coming off as a "bitch." Well let me tell you, it took me until my forties to understand that there is nothing wrong with being seen as a "bitch" especially when you have right on your side. I take it as badge of honor that I can so disarm someone that they have no way to respond to me except to attempt to disavow what I stand for by infantile bullying and name-calling. It means that they have no legal underpinnings to their argument and cannot defend their actions towards my child with any rational thought process.

it is important to remember too, that society uses the word "bitch" to denigrate and disarm women of their empowerment. As someone who rejects any unequal status associated with being female, I have learned to embrace the word and use it to my children's advantage. Whenever anyone tries to call me "bitch" quite frankly, I teach them a new definition of that word and let them know that they had better get out of my way or they will get steamrollered.

By the way, I would like readers to know that I am a volunteer advocate for special needs children. Please visit my blog Raising Asperger's Kids,  for practical information on raising children with autism spectrum disorders. Additionally, anyone who has questions on raising a child with special needs (autism, LD, OCD, epilepsy, etc) can also reach me through my autism blog. I will happily get back to everyone.

GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD : Well, see - 18 yo is not so far back for moi. I can only say at 18, I thought money was everything.  Now I know it is.

Bookworm Room: My European parents raised me to believe that the most important thing someone could offer was education and class. I've learned over the years that the most important qualities in a person are decency and kindness, along with a sense of humor that includes being able to laugh at oneself.

To be liked, you have to be likable.

Math and science are possible, even if you have lousy teachers. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, there's no reason for a lousy teacher to confuse you.

Don't let school limit your education (which it will). Look beyond school to things that truly interest you.

Interested people are interesting. Bored people are boring.

Because I was the ultimate nerd, jocks intimated me so I treated them rudely. Aside from the fact that one should never be rude to anybody, I was just completely wrong: jocks are not jerks -- or at least, not all of them are. Nowadays, some of my favorite people are jocks or former jocks who (in retrospect) were nicer then and are nicer now than the low-self-esteem crowd with which I ran back in high school and college.

When it comes to politics, labels come last. The first thing to do is to look objectively at the things that matter to you, both at a practical and a moral level. The next step is to determine what party both espouses those values and has workable ideas that achieve them. If I'd known that when I was 18, I would have registered as a Republican and not wasted my very first vote on Jimmy Carter.

If it's not good, it will get better. I was at Cal when I was 18 and I was not a happy camper. The school was so very wrong for me. I stuck it out, got as good an education in the liberal arts as Cal was capable of offering, and when on to better things. Time and maturity are very good at helping us cope with things. For me, turning 30 was a turning-point, because I finally started feeling comfortable in my own skin.

It's never to late to learn martial arts. If you haven't started learning them by 18, don't wait. Do it! The longer you wait, the less your body will cooperate.

Be open to new experiences. If you're pretty sure it won't endanger you, physically or mentally, give it a try.

 Rhymes With Right: Wow -- is that question rife with possibilities.  I can think of a number of things.

1)  Sign those enlistment papers for the Navy Reserve now -- you can always start college a semester later.  Instead I injured my back in a car wreck and was physically disqualified.

2)  You really ought to consider that college that seemed interesting but was located in that out-of-the-way town in Pennsylvania -- there's a girl there who you'll meet in another dozen years who will make you the happiest man on earth.  Who knows?  An extra dozen years of happiness might have been in the cards.

3)  Whatever you do, don't kiss the crazy girl.  I can think of at least three painful relationships that would have saved me before I met the girl in the previous item.

Oh, wait -- that isn't what you meant by that question, was it?  How about these instead:

1)  No matter how smart you think you are, you have to sell yourself -- no one will hand you a job (even one you are well-qualified for) just because you want it and apply for it.  You have to show that they need you.

2)  Keep in touch with friends.  I've spent the last couple of years reconnecting with people from my past on Facebook and Twitter.  It would have been nice to have had relationships with them for the intervening couple of decades.

3)  Idealism is nice, but the reality is that you have to compromise to move toward change you believe in.

 Well, there you have it.

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