By Polo Munoz, Managing Editor/Publisher

Disclaimer, this has nothing to do with Ice Cube, except that the look in that picture personifies most folks that got advise that they did not expect, much less want. But for the two students that have asked me seriously for some guidance, here you are. First and foremost, stay in school. Take the time to learn from all those adults in your path and ask the hard questions. Challenge your teachers and your peers, and always be elegant. They will provide opportunities that you could not imagine are there. They need you to spark their imaginations and their fire; you can bring passion back into their lives; or you could end up at continuation school and would be allowed to create a curriculum that fits your needs. You win either way, but for your sake, and all of ours, stay in school.

Here is some academic help if you want to be a rapper, warning, there are some rough lyrics. If you can get these folks to sit with you and mentor you, go for it, other than that learn to learn from others and get some music theory classes  to help you. If you are a musical genius, find a great publicist.

Having said that, here we go, don’t expect anyone to reciprocate just because you do something that you think benefited them personally. Do not spend too much time trying to get people to like you or spend time with you, they will do so if they want to do it. Focus on acquiring and developing the skill sets and the network you need in order to get closer to your goals; and if you don’t know your goals, that should be your first focus.

Find people that believe you can be more than you think you are, especially adult mentors that are doing something you are interested in; don’t wait to find your passion, that will probably be your life long quest and a continually moving target. Learn what solipsism is and stay the heck away from those driven by that philosophy; practice compassion as moral compass because it is the best mechanism for a great life.

You must learn how to have a conversation, it is what will help you create a connection with people when you need one, and you will need many in order to thrive in a world that has given us the devices to be constantly connected to each other, but has not helped us to develop the emotional  and social skills to manage our feelings or actions; people are overwhelming. If you are in middle school, you know exactly what I mean.

Your parents are who they are, and what you see is what you get. Those conflicts and difficulties you experience daily with them, or in the past, will hopefully be resolved in time with the appropriate support and therapy. If your parents or caretakers are constantly physically or verbally abusing you, that is not normal, let several people know immediately. Family relationships are a challenge, in truth, all relationships are a challenge, work through them and just be aware that they will take a lifetime to resolve, do not let them keep you stuck. Look for support from those people you feel or think you can trust, and if they prove themselves to be untrustworthy, mourn that choice and move on, not an easy decision but a necessary choice. Most of us have a limited time to become self-sufficient, some of us don’t; don’t squander it.

The way people speak to you can be healing or hurtful, make sure you do not stand for abusive language, address it as soon as you can, and that could be much later than at the moment its happening, but learn to address it. Some folks invite their demons to walk next to them; don’t be one of them.

As you get older, it’s going to be tougher to make friends, we are not around as many people as you are around now and we are too worried about making payments to those that hold our lives in their pocket books. A bit of advise on this; learn to budget. Make sure that you know how much you need to live and do not get used to surviving, that would be a horrible circle that will be difficult to over come. A budget would include, how much would it cost to rent/buy a place similar to where you live now, how much are all the utilities and the food you would need. How much are you spending now and how much would you spend if you would buy all those things you desire instead just what you need. What is it that you would need to live the life you need; let the desire for a much larger life help drive you toward financial success, not ruin your present situation. This last piece can be very subjective and can be debatable.

Here is one tip that you need to keep in mind; do not let TV shows, films or any other type of entertaining media or form “teach” you how to live your life, how life should be and especially how life is. It can and should inspire and can sustain, but if you are getting your direction from a person who has been invented by a person who has been sitting down for years to tell the story that influences you as part as of their commercial plan for financial success, things will go wrong because as mentioned earlier, they are made up. Those stories that you love so much, are great for inspiration, but not practical. Go see them to escape and to gain a grain of philosophical intensity, then go and read the books that will help you do the same. Learn how to be practical, or at least learn what it is to be practical. Let’s start with its definition, practical – of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas

Learn the one skill that helps people understand what you are trying to convey, learn to tell stories, through what ever medium you feel most comfortable with. We are all storytellers and all stories are special and important; that is our super power and our connector to other souls and especially to your own. And the most important ingredient in developing and refining this skill is to learn to listen with full openness and acceptance. As Artistotle is quoted as saying “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

As always, adults think they know more than youth, and in most cases they do, they have more experiences that they have had to maneuver through, learn from them, but do not discount your own.

Here is a bit of tragic truth; do not expect those that have grown up with you or have known you the longest, to appreciate you or understand you the most. They may not be the people that will acknowledge your success, your experience or your efforts to become who you want to become. Sadly, some prefer to bring you back to a more vulnerable moment in your life, it is a hard to explain truth, even biblical, bit its a reality. Always be the one to celebrate those events you know are important to you, regardless of how small they are to others. Be your own best advocate, do not allow for apologists to be the principal folks you surround yourself with. Always advocate for those you care about and know well.

Being the most authentic you will take all your efforts and many people will not appreciate that because it helps you become autonomous and truth to you, but always be open that there is something you do not know, just because you don’t. The development of skills and the opportunity to experience events and relationships of all types, and the willingness to make decisions and choose will help you learn to trust yourself. Be the best advocate you have, ALWAYS!