Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been. When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day. What follows is one piece of that advice. I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child,
I felt as a child, I thought as a child.
Now that I have become a man,
I have put away childish things.
—1 Corinthians 13:11
World English Bible
In almost every state, once you reach the age of eighteen, you’re legally on your own. In the eyes of the law, you’re totally responsible for—and held accountable for—your own actions.
That fact frequently causes indignation in eighteen year olds. It most often takes the form of the old cliché “I’m old enough to die for my country, but I’m too young to buy a beer.”
Fair or not, that’s the way it is. And the sooner you embrace responsibility, the happier you’ll be. Being a responsible person is not a burden to be avoided. On the contrary, you now have the complete ability to determine the direction of your own life.
The idea of being a responsible adult is probably the greatest opportunity of your young life, but it comes at a price. We’ve already touched on the upside: you’re now your own person. You can live where and how you want, do whatever you want (as long as it’s legal), and do what you want with your life.
Now for the cost. It’s just the flip side of the same coin. You now have nobody but yourself to blame for almost everything. You—and only you—are responsible for every single aspect of your own life.
Actions have consequences; even inaction has consequences. It’s the price you pay to be in the game. Nothing’s free. You can do—or not do—just about anything you want. Just be willing to pay the price. As soon as you understand how the game works, you can make it work for you. You’ll wear responsibility as comfortably as the clothes on your back.
Many people never accept this simple concept, and as a result they are miserable until the day they die. They live what Thoreau called “lives of quiet desperation.” All the while, they blame cruel fate, cruel people, or a cruel world for their misery. They’d rather be unhappy than face the fact that they live in a world of their own making.
Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t blame anyone for your troubles—not even yourself. Take responsibility for the kind of person you will be, for creating your own life. You’ll find that—far from being a burden—responsibility is one of the secrets to a lifetime of happiness.