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September 12, 2012 / Mervyn Dinnen

Eighteen

“Lines form on my face and hands, lines form from the ups and downs
I’m in the middle without any plans, I’m a boy and I’m a man
I’m eighteen and I don’t know what I want, eighteen I just don’t know what I want
Eighteen I gotta get away I gotta get out of this place I’ll go runnin’ in outer space oh yeah
I got a baby’s brain and an old man’s heart, took eighteen years to get this far
Don’t always know what I’m talkin’ about feels like I’m livin’ in the middle of doubt
’cause I’m eighteen I get confused every day eighteen I just don’t know what to say eighteen I gotta get away”

(Alice Cooper – I’m Eighteen)

Today my little boy turns 18. Unlike Alice Cooper’s confused, frustrated and restless teen, my son is pretty clear what he wants and where he wants to go. He has a goal, a path he wants to follow. He puts a lot of effort into trying to make it happen, even though his journey down this path has yet to fully begin.

I’m reliably informed that he gets his looks, charisma and character from his mother. That leaves a slight self-centredness and stubbornness down to me then. Thankfully for him I appear to have kept the dogmatism to myself.

I remember my 18th birthday fairly clearly. It started with a Maths A-Level (one of the teenage banes of a June birthday) and ended with a massive argument with one of my friends (over a girl, naturally) since when we have never really spoken again.

I had no idea what I wanted to do, and was almost certainly closer to the confusion and self-doubt of which Alice Cooper sang, though without the anger. (Remember this is the song John Lydon sang/snarled to McLaren to get his gig with the Sex Pistols). In a more polarised political landscape getting the vote seemed like a burden (I doubt it will weigh heavily on my son’s friends) whilst getting a car was an absolute necessity. A package holiday to ShMagaluf was the rites of passage.

I was in the middle without any plans and no real idea what I wanted to do and probably ended up listening too much to what friends and family thought I should be doing.

My son, on the other hand, knows what he wants to do and I can’t really fault any of the decisions that he has made so far in pursuit of that.

I was wondering what advice, what polished pearl of wisdom I should be offering him. He already knows that I think he should stick to what he wants, have belief in his convictions but keep his feet grounded in reality.

I then took a quick glance at twitter whilst I was thinking and in the kind of serendipitous moment that only Twitter can provide I saw my friend @TreacleTiger tweet:

What’s the one bit of advice you’d give a teenager today? #curious

I’m not sure…what advice would you give an 18 year old? Or what was the best advice you got as an 18 year old?

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7 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Meg Peppin / Sep 12 2012 8:42 AM

    What a great post. My advice – you can do anything, be anything so be open to all possibilities. Happy day to you all.

  2. Katrina / Sep 12 2012 8:55 AM

    I wish someone had told me at 18 that “it’s not possible to be liked by everybody. Some will like you & some won’t, the most important thing is to like yourself. When you like yourself, you’re comfortable in your own skin and others will naturally be drawn to you” Hope that makes sense 🙂

  3. redsprings / Sep 12 2012 10:20 AM

    Great read Mervyn. He is a fortunate lad to have a caring and respectful Dad. The best advice I would give to a teenager is that you can be and do many, many things. Don’t just settle for one. I love that you have given him a licence to be who he is, a great gift.

  4. stephenod72 / Sep 12 2012 1:41 PM

    Knowing what he wants to do gives him a huge advantage over most other 18 year olds. That being the case, working out the steps required to get there is the priority.

    Aside from that, I’d advise him (as I do my own sons) to always be occupied, and have many and varied interests. From industry comes inspiration. There will be plenty of time to rest when he is much older.

  5. Niki Rosenbaum (@treacletiger) / Sep 12 2012 3:21 PM

    Great blog. So many opportunities for those turning 18, but so many challenges too. I hope Dinnen Jr overcomes them in style and enjoys every success. And thank you for the mention.

    My own advice? As Polonius says in Hamlet: “This above all else: to thine own self be true.” It’s never steered me wrong and I wish I’d taken those words to heart many years earlier.

  6. Lizzie Cernik (@BaggageGirl) / Sep 12 2012 7:19 PM

    Advice for an 18 year old? It’s great that you’ve got a dream and know what you want but don’t let it get too consuming. Have fun, go out, try other things, travel, head to uni… Try everything once. (Except class A drugs and jellyfish salad. The drugs rot your brain, jellyfish tastes like sea flavoured gelatine. Admittedly I’ve only tried the latter…)

  7. Lizzie Cernik (@BaggageGirl) / Sep 12 2012 7:19 PM

    Oh hang on- ‘crunchy sea flavoured gelatine.’

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