The Advice Column (I Wish Someone Had Told Me)

A friend's brother and sister (they're twins) will graduate from U of I soon, and last week I got an e-mail from the brother asking for advice on how best to succeed in the "real world" (his words, not mine). Being the self-aggrandizing blowhard that I am, how could I refuse?


Fail spectacularly at least once; you'll learn more from a day at rock bottom than from a lifetime at the top.

Don't be suckered into believing that what makes your friends/favorite TV show/boss/parents/significant other happy will make you happy; only you can decide that. Anyone worth the dirt they'll be buried under knows that one person's heaven can be another's hell, and you should be no different.

Money is nothing to be reviled, nor is it anything to be revered. It will do you plenty of good but cause you plenty of problems as well; be ready for both of these to happen. And always remember that success has nothing to do with how much you make. There are too many people to count who have kicked no small amount of ass in their field that can't pay the rent, and by the same token there are too many rich people that could too easily be classified as failures.

Don't lead people on and don't toy with their affections. Ever. You're not only mocking someone's feelings but you're wasting both of your time.

To young men: At some point, a beautiful woman will ruin you one way or another. And don't for a second trick yourself into thinking you've got the opposite sex figured out. It's like trying to calculate pi or conclusively prove evolution; the further you get, the harder it is to link the data.

To young women: There has never been a perfect man and there never will be. Don't be fooled into thinking otherwise.

Don't begrudge other people their happiness and good fortune, regardless of whether they earned it and whether they deserve it. Petty jealousy will get you nowhere and that's time and energy you could've used to solve your own damn problems.

When Harry Met Sally isn't funny because of any jokes, gags or punchlines; When Harry Met Sally is funny because it's true.

Emotional baggage is a very unattractive feature in a woman. Ladies, please do your best to conceal or accessorize around it.

Don't fear change, but don't embrace it too readily either.

Despite their mass e-mails stating the contrary, the company you work for ultimately does not care about you.

Show me someone who doesn't hate a co-worker and I'll show you someone who's never had a job.

Never judge the people closest to you. Listen to them, observe them, take notes, hear them out, but never judge them. In the end, we are only as good as the company we keep...meaning none of us is really better than anyone else.

But hey, what do I know?