A brief guide to growing up in the 21st century.

Some of this may seem old fashioned. I understand that things are different now: we have lots of technology and stuff. What hasn't changed is us: we're still human last time I checked and we still have feelings and appreciate kindness and thoughtfulness.

In the world

Many good guides have been written on how to be an adult. Some are humorous and some are practical. Most of these are common sense to people over 50… but knowledge that one generation gained doesn’t always make it down to the next generation.

  1. Write thank you notes
  2. Do not invite yourself to stay with friends anymore
  3. Be on time
  4. Learn to walk in heels (for women)

George Washington wrote a small book called Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior which is full of excellent advice such as this:

22nd: Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy.

24th: Do not laugh too much or too loud in public.

35th: Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.

50th: Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any.

56th: Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.

62nd: Speak not of doleful things in a time of mirth or at the table; speak not of melancholy things as death and wounds, and if others mention them, change if you can the discourse. Tell not your dreams, but to your intimate friend.

73rd: Think before you speak; pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your words too hastily, but orderly & distinctly.

The adults I admire most respond to genuine inquiries and requests. They do not (and should not) say “yes” to everything, but they always give reply to people. Ignoring people is not an acceptable grown-up response. If you are a private person, you may say so, but do not be discourteous.

I'll add a few of my own here as well:

  • remember your appointments and keep them
  • return phone calls

So simple!