Life isn’t one big victory lap

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“We used to have to walk two miles to school and home from school every day in the snow. And to make matters worse, it was uphill both ways.”

We have all heard that story from older generations through the years. And I’m sure we are all aware that every generation believes the next generation has it easier than the previous. It’s human nature. Grandparents think they had it harder than the parents of today. Parents know they had it much harder than their kids today and someday, they will think they had it tougher than their kids. I guess they will tell horror stories of how their cell phone wouldn’t stay charged. My point is the cycle is never going to end.

So at the risk of showing my age, I’ve got some advice for our younger, “softer” generation that will hopefully help them going forward. I’m going to put it in a David Letterman-style list and call it “The Top 10 Things Millennials Should Know So They Can Lead a Good Life and Not Get Their Feelings Hurt Too Badly.”

• Quitting is a bad habit to start. It becomes really easy to do and will follow you the rest of your life. Suck it up.

• People are going to disappoint you from time to time. It happens to everybody. Get over it.

• You are going to work for a boss that you may not see eye to eye with. Deal with it.

• Marriage isn’t just a ceremony and a reception. That’s just the beginning. It takes love, compromise, teamwork, patience, friendship, and more love. Know what you are getting into before you get into it.

• Children are the most important thing in the world. When you have a child, it’s no longer about you. Embrace it.

• Your elders know what they are talking about. Listen.

• Work is a grind. That’s why it is called “work” and not “play.” Get after it.

• You are going to make mistakes. Learn from them.

• Winners find a way to succeed. Losers find a way to fail. Find your way.

• You only have one reputation. Guard it.

Now, I’m pretty sure I could go on with this list but a Top 10 seemed like a good place to stop without easing into grumpy old man status; however, I do worry about these sort of things. I want the next generation to be fearless and take on all challenges. I don’t want them to hit one roadblock and run home to their mom or dad. I want them to achieve far greater things than my generation has ever imagined, but to achieve something great, the word “quit” can’t be a part of your vocabulary. There are so many great opportunities out there, but you have to go pursue them and work for them. They aren’t going to get dropped off at your parent’s doorsteps for you.

Look, life isn’t going to be one big victory lap. It just doesn’t happen like that. There are going to be some bumps in the road. Heck, there might even be a couple of five-car pileup, NASCAR type wrecks, but that’s OK. And do you know why that’s OK?

It will just make the finish line that much sweeter when you finally get there.

David Lee is the Wilson Parks and Recreation Department Director. He is also a part-time golfer, part-time writer and, along with his wife, Dana, full-time parents of two boys.