This September, I turned 17! And I have some advice for you. Yes, you specifically. I've been waiting to write this article since July, but I can't really put "17 pieces of life advice for teenagers since I'm 16.8 years old" as the title. And I know last week I wrote about advice – so next week I think I'll write about a really fascinating math game.
Buy a nice deck of cards from Theory11. I like the 007 cards, the Artisans, and the Star Wars Gold Edition. Theory11 cards are just way better than your run-of-the-mill playing cards, and it's completely worth it when someone inevitably says at a social event: "Hey, we should play poker!"
Learn your way around your computer. Learn about keyboard shortcuts, Terminal commands, and file systems. These skills will always be useful, and you'll automatically be more productive.
For Spotify users: if you really enjoy a song, add it to your Liked Songs and never remove it. (Not using Spotify? Most music platforms have something similar.) Your Liked Songs will serve as a memory capsule because you can look at the date you liked that song. Then you can travel back in time by listening to that song.
Host more social events. A social event can be as simple as burgers and game night at someone's house. Social events are psychologically difficult to schedule, but really only cost the price of dinner and snacks. And they pay rich dividends by strengthening relationships and creating memories you'll never forget.
Connect your car keys to your wallet with a carabiner. You'll always need your driver's license (in your wallet) if you're using your car keys (to drive). It's way easier to keep track of those two items if you physically link them together.
Take calculus. It's an incredibly useful math course and it's more fun than algebra, geometry, and precalculus. Plus, colleges love it when students have taken calculus. And if you really don't want to take calculus, take AP Statistics.
Invest in a good pair of headphones, preferably a pair with good noise cancellation. It's only an extra $100-$200, and it's way easier to focus when you don't hear background noise all the time.
If you want to pick up a hobby, try chess. It's super fun (I promise), and it's a great conversation starter & way to pass the time. Chess is also super great for your cognitive function – it doesn't necessarily make you smarter, but it makes you better at problem-solving.
Close your open browser tabs (and applications!) if you don't use them. If you have more than 20 browser tabs open right now, close at least 10 of them. The fewer browser tabs and applications you have open, the faster your computer will run.
If you often get distracted by social media (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit) or online games, use SelfControl (download here) to forcefully block yourself from those sites. Once you start a SelfControl block, there's no easy way to undo it.
Practically everything is better with friends.
Try to watch at least one movie per month. Recommendations: Ocean's Eleven (2001), Rush Hour, Interstellar, Inception, Penguins of Madagascar (super fun & whimsical), Top Gun, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Good Will Hunting.
Use a calendar to remember birthdays, appointments, meetings, and anything else you need to remember. Calendars are generally awesome.
Always have a $20 bill in your wallet if you get into a bind.
Don't use YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, TikTok, or any other platform that serves videos to you on a vertical timeline. It's one of the best ways to destroy your attention span and waste your time.
If you freeze bananas or grapes, they last longer and are (arguably) more delicious. Frozen grapes are actually amazing.
Learn how to write. Writing is the most transferable skill in the world and opens up all kinds of opportunities if you can write well. David Perell explains this well in his essay Why You Should Write.
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