Winders: Just a little advice from a non-advice guy

I’ll say it again: I’m not an advice-giving kind of guy.

Even though folks seek it from me from time to time, even though I offer it up on occasion, I ‘m not sure I would buy everything I’m selling on certain topics. For instance, don’t ask me about mutual funds. Honestly, my generation’s theory on sound investing revolved around keeping our Han Solo action figures in original boxes.

But I don’t lose too much sleep over this gap in perceived wisdom.

Oh sure, you might have investing down cold, but I’m guessing you might fall short when it comes to knowledge of Ramones albums or small-engine repair. Remember, most Renaissance men or women died out sometime around, well, the Renaissance.

So don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself.

This week, we welcome many young men and women into a sometimes confusing, always sticky world of first-year university. In honour of their annual rite, I offer up the following (as I have too many classes before you at many stops in my career). Not advice, mind you, these are simple nuggets I would have found quite helpful if passed along to me before entering the post-high school years.

I know you’ll ignore them; that’s what 17 year olds do. But at least I will retain I-told-you-so rights.

Nugget No. 1: You are never as smart as you think you are. Coming to grips with this could have saved me mounds of embarrassment, frustration and a number of municipal fines. Funny, after all these years, I still forget this nugget about every other day or so.

Nugget No. 2: Limit the number of things you will do for a free T-shirt.

Nugget No. 3: You are not fooling your parents, your professors/boss or your friends. Not only have these folks heard every excuse in the book, they probably tried to use them at one time or another. Your parents know what you’re doing, your professors/boss know what you didn’t do and your friends probably don’t care either way. So be honest in everything, especially your shortfalls.

Nugget No. 4: I’m serious about that T-shirt thing. I cannot stress this enough. If you think people are just giving you a T-shirt for no reason, then see Nugget No. 1. Nothing made from a poly-cotton blend is worth sacrificing your credit score or dignity.

Nugget No. 5: Never follow through on an idea that starts out with the phrase, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we …” Doing so usually ends up with the phrases “banned for life” or “sorry about that, your honour” entering your lexicon.

Nugget No. 6: Speaking of credit cards … Before you use one, think if what you’re buying today is worth paying three times that tomorrow. Trust me, you should learn a little about how interest works.

Nugget No. 7: Capturing your naked form on camera is never a good idea. If you don’t think that trick will return to haunt you, refer once again to Nugget No. 1.

Nugget No. 8: If you ignore Nugget No. 7, please do not post said image to anything that ends in .com. Believe me, current and future employers are not amused.

Nugget No. 9: Learn all you can about as much as you can, but don’t worry if you’re not reading all the pages. Enjoy the meandering that is life.

Nugget No. 10: Your high school years aren’t even close to the best years of your life. So get over them immediately. Trust me, when you’re 20 years old, let alone 40 or 50, you don’t want to be That Person who repeatedly uses the phrase “Remember back in high school …” Nobody’s life experience should end at 17.

Nugget No. 11: Yes, that haircut looks ridiculous. But who cares? You’re young, go ahead and celebrate your inner “coif.” This is the kind of stuff you cannot get away with in a few years.

Nugget No. 12: No matter what they say, or how convincingly they say it, no one has all the answers. That’s really the only advice I can give you. That and the T-shirt thing.

Welcome, first-years, and good luck.