Advice for Newlyweds or New College Students

Congratulations on entering this new phase of your life. I'm sure you're very excited and maybe even a bit nervous. I don't blame you. When I was in your shoes, I wanted everything to be perfect, and I worried I was going to make mistakes.

Was I good enough and smart enough? Could I get along with others? And dear God, please don't let me do anything dumb or embarrassing!

Here's some advice for newlyweds heading out to their honeymoon or new college students whose parents just dropped them off at their dorm. Some of this applies to both groups, some of it is only for one of you. I'll let you figure it out yourselves.

There are plenty of new experiences and activities just waiting for you. Don't be afraid. Try something new, experiment a little. Figure out what you like to do, and keep doing that. Stop doing the things that aren't fun or cause you discomfort. This is the time to really enjoy yourself before you're ready to re-enter the world as adults.

Leave your room once in a while. There's plenty of activities to do outside too. If you spend too much time in your room, people will think you're up to something.

Don't try to do everything at once in the first few days. Slow down and pace yourself. You don't want to wear yourself out or damage your health. You've got plenty of time to figure out what you really like to do. Take some time to get into a routine before you take on new activities.

You're going to be judged for your early efforts, but it's okay if you don't do well at first. There's always room for improvement. You'll learn from earlier mistakes, you'll get better, and eventually you will become an expert. Or at least know enough to get the job done.

It's natural to be a little nervous, but just remember, millions of people around the world do this every year. If you're not sure what you're supposed to do, trust your instincts, or ask someone for advice.

You may be the first in your family to get this far. Good for you! It can be difficult if you're the only person who's taken this step. It's even worse if your family didn't want you to be here. But others of you come from a long line of people who have taken the plunge, so look to them for ideas on what to do and not do.

Hopefully your parents had "the talk" with you so you know what to expect. Ask some of your older friends and family members what it was like for them too. They may be able to offer some helpful tips on what you should do and not do to be happy. But if not, you can always read about it on the Internet.

There are also some videos that can be helpful too, but they don't always present a realistic portrayal of how this is supposed to work.

You have probably gotten a lot of unwanted advice from people, especially strangers. They mean well, but don't feel like you have to do everything they suggested. This is your time to try new things, but don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable.

You're going to hear new ideas and encounter new ways of doing things. Arguments will no doubt ensue. The important thing is that you find a peaceful way to settle your differences. And then kiss and make up. (That part is just for the newlyweds.)

Don't overextend yourself. As you find yourself in new surroundings, you'll want to try as many different activities as you can. But if you're not careful you'll wear yourself out by dinnertime and won't enjoy your evenings.

Practice good hygiene. Being away from home and family for the first time often means old habits will slip a bit, and you'll forget to shower or brush your teeth. Believe me, those closest to you will notice, so don't let standards fall just because you're no longer around family.

After a while, the newness will wear off, and you'll finally settle in to a comfortable routine. But don't get into a rut or you'll become bored. Try something new once in a while to keep life exciting. This is your time in life to learn something new, so be sure to have fun.

Remember that decisions have consequences. One wrong choice, one slip up, and you'll have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life.

Finally, call your parents once in a while, because they miss you. But don't feel like you have to share everything on Instagram.

Photo credit: Henri Rousseau (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

The 3rd edition of Branding Yourself is now available on and in your local Barnes & Noble bookstore.