- Post these rules before presenting your list.
- List 6 actions or achievements you think every person should accomplish before turning 18.
- There are no conditions on what can be included on the list.
- At the end of your blog, choose 6, or less, people to get tagged and list their names.
- People who are tagged write their own blog entry with their 6 suggestions.
- Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged.
My first reaction, as was that of Abu Fares, is that 18 is such a tender age. An eighteen year old is only separated from childhood by a few transformative years, mere nanoseconds for someone rapidly approaching fifty like myself. Can a sixteen year old really be expected to know what are the most important things -aside from success in school- that they need to accomplish before the age of eighteen? This is, by necessity, wisdom gained in hindsight and transmitted by parents to children. My advice contains things that I did before the age of eighteen and that I consider important as well as things that I regret not having done. So if I sound, to the younger readers, a little too preachy, it is no accident, it is a rehearsed delivery that I have been giving to my fifteen year old.
1. Travel: Exposure to a different culture will widen one's horizon. Having said that, one has to have explored and appreciated the country of their birth. I benefited greatly from the travel brought about by out involuntary exile but missed out on much of what my own country had to offer. One of those days, I will come to visit you ya Abu Fares.
2. Volunteer: Children tend to grow up sheltered within a cocoon built by their parents. Their life experiences are limited to those of their immediate family and environment. Doing volunteer work to help the less fortunate or for the benefit of the greater good builds character and exposes a child to the realities of the world.
3. Work: Work teaches personal responsibility and discipline. Doing menial jobs is a right of passage for most teenagers in the U.S. In the Middle East, however, such work done by the sons or daughters of the middle and upper class is frowned upon. Such attitudes need to change but not at the expense of rich kids taking away job opportunities from those in need. But the benefits of work do not necessarily have to come from paying jobs (see number 2).
4. Learn to play a musical instrument: Even for those with little innate musical talent, the knowledge gained in the process of trying to learn will lead to a greater appreciation of music which in turn greatly enriches one's life. I realized this too late at age twenty at which point I taught myself to play the piano one summer between my undergraduate years. I progressed to playing simple pieces before I had to drop it when classes restarted. I still love music, but I am envious of those who can effortlessly play an instrument.
5. Learn to cook from your mother: And no this advice is not limited to young women. In fact, it is more specifically addressed to young men who, in the Middle East, tend to be spoiled silly by their mothers (ya ibni, ya habibi!). Food is not only for nutrition, it is for the soul; it is one's connection to family and culture. Growing up, I hung out often in the kitchen with my mother, helping out some but mostly tasting and "cleaning up". By the time I left home, I had to necessary tools to fend for myself. Those talents have since shrivelled as Um Kareem has become the absolute ruler of our kitchen; but I can't complain, she is by far the better cook.
6. Keep an open mind and remain humble, there is still much that you don't know. This is not something that needs to be done as much as something that needs to be left undone. Eighteen year olds, in their physical and mental prime, often exude a sense of youthful arrogance and invulnerability. They can seem to be dead set in their ideas or thoughts. They need to keep an open mind, the world is mosty not black and white but infinite shades of grey.