As you reach the non-teenage years, a lot of things will start to change. The difference between being a teenager and an adult is huge.
As teens, we barely have social graces, we have no etiquette; however, when you become an adult, you have to know how to deal with fancy dinners, dinner parties, events and much more.
Sometimes, as teenagers, we find ourselves not showing up on time, or even not showing up at all. We may be late to class, late to a dance, late to dinner; whatever it may be, we find time to be of little issue. What a lot of people don't consider is that being late is rude to everyone involved, especially if they hold up a certain part of the event until everyone arrives.
During the holidays or dinners, you may not find yourself helping out, but when you're older you have the responsibility to help out your peers/elders and may be expected to bring a dish to serve. Corresponding back to the holidays, you may get away with being impolite or snobby but when you're older, that's not acceptable behavior.
As you reach your 20s, you need to start to realize that maturing is very important.
As of right now, you may find yourself "going with the flow." However, when you become an adult, a lot more planning and scheduling is required. College has given me a taste of that. I need to be able to go to class at odd hours, work on projects with groups, finish all my homework and, in my case, go to cheer practice. All of this requires both planning and flexibility.
Right now, many of you probably stay at your parents' house. You come and go, without paying for rent, food or utilities. You don't really care if it's clean or worry about what's for dinner.
When you grow up and have your place, you have to worry about a lot more. And, regardless of how you feel as you read this, most of you will care about things you never have before. Having your own place usually brings on a sense of self-pride you Yes, it allows more freedom because it is your own but you might just find yourself saying, "You're not destroying my place!" when someone suggests a wild party.
Think of your schedule now and then think of all the times you've used the excuse "I don't have time!" Well, before you know it, that time you're lacking now will become a negative value.
Take your current schedule and add, say, a dozen things to that list that you never had to consider before.
And, behavior. Right now you can get away with a surprising number of bad decisions. As you get older, you can still get away with some bad decision-making but you'll find out that it is not tolerated at the same level or as often anymore.
All of this brings us to friends and acquaintances. Right now many of you will see friends come and go and think it's not that big of a deal because there are others to take their place. However, as you move on with life, you'll find your friend circle slowly shrink as people move on with life. At this point the friends you're still holding on to will become more important in several ways. If you've made it this far with them, it's pretty certain they're good friends who you've been through a lot with. Losing friends like that becomes painful because so much of your life has involved them. If you're not careful, patient and tolerant, you could end up losing more friends than you ever thought possible. It's a tightrope walk until you hit your 30s and then things usually settle down.
Nobody is saying all the fun from your life will be gone as you mature. The word "fun" simply takes on a new meaning in some cases. You'll have more freedom. which you'll appreciate and enjoy. The main thing to remember is that your life now, and a couple years from now, will be different and you just need to know its a natural progression.
Melissa Flathmann, a 2011 graduate of Oneonta High School, is a freshman at the State University College at Plattsburgh. Would you like A Word of Advice from her? Send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or send her a letter to "Teen Talk: A Word of Advice," C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. 'Teen Talk' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.