What should men know by age 22?

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Perhaps the most important thing you should know as a man by the age of 22 is how to be a man without being a brute. This means having the confidence to stand up for yourself and argue your position without being nasty, disagreeable or using ad hominem arguments. It also means standing up for those weaker than yourself and not tolerating abuse or humiliation of others if you can, by your voice, stop it.

A man should be able to stand up straight and look people in the eye when speaking and treat all people -- from bosses and managers, to waitstaff and homeless individuals with the respect they deserve as humans.

By 22 a man should be able to say no to things he doesn't want to do or accept peer pressure and be resistant to arguments to vanity and ego.

A man should know how to purchase a suit and tie a necktie and know that if you are wearing a tie it should always be tight against your neck until you are in the bar with your friends or at home. Also, a tie should never be worn with a short sleeve shirt. Many men cannot figure out colors and patterns and that's ok - a white cotton shirt goes with anything. You should also know when it's NOT okay to wear a baseball hat and T-shirt. If it's not a softball game and you think photos might be taken, don't be caught looking like a slob.

A man should know that a clean body, a clean mouth, and clean clothes go very far. So does politeness and manners. Open doors for everyone, men and women. Never arrive empty handed. Don't be greedy with shared goodies. Say please and thank you. Smile. Be patient. Keep an even temper.

A man at 22 should be able to balance a checkbook and pay his bills on time; he should make saving and investing for the future a priority. He should know or learn about credit cards and other credit instruments and how they work and their repercussions - and avoid credit as much as possible. Credit is a necessary evil and a veiled trap that ensnares many young people, who then spend the rest of their 20s paying for their credit mistakes.

At 22 a man should know what duty and loyalty to family, friends, organizations and his country requires. There should be respect and gratitude for those who have gone before and made your life possible. That doesn't mean accepting those institutions without question -- you should always question authority, but only with the goal of improving it, not tearing it down. Don't be raising questions and making problems unless you have a possible solution and the ability to contributing towards its implementation. It's easy to criticize and tear things down -- there are no perfect people and situations. But the bigger man tries to understand the underlying reasons why those things are there before tearing them down.

A man at 22 should know how to treat women properly with courtesy, confidence and respect, and he should expect the same and not tolerate anything else. At 22 you should know that walking away is not always a sign of cowardice but is often a show of wisdom and farsightedness. It doesn't make any difference if you are dead right if you are dead. As the Marine slogan goes, "Choose the hard right over the easy wrong". It's very, very easy to get into difficulty and often very hard to get out. A thoughtless moment of anger or impetuosity sometimes take years to correct. The best fight you will ever have is the one you never have. If you do find you have to fight, then fight hard, fast and to win. But that should always be the last resort, not the first thought.

It's very hard to be a man at 22 in today's world. The world is hard, confusing and often painful. As the saying goes, you avoid mistakes from years of experience: you gain experience from years of making mistakes. You will make mistakes, you will hurt people. Learn how to say you are sorry and mean it, and to try to make amends. An apology means nothing if it just words. You have to make amends as well.

At 22 a man should begin to know what he loves if he hasn't figured that out already and he should be doing it. And he should be trying every new thing he can. The world is full of amazing places, things, sensations, smells and flavors. Try them. Use good judgement and moderation. Avoid things that cloud your judgement and realize that just about everything that seems to good to be true usually is. Remember words have power, the power to hurt and the power to heal and the power to make love happen.

At 22 a man should begin to be a role model for younger men and boys. Try to view yourself from the outside -- if you were a young man watching you, would you want him to emulate you? Become like you? Whether you realize it or not someone, somewhere is seeing what you do and it alters them, makes them want to be like you or to avoid you. Act in such a way that if someone says something bad about you, no one would believe it.

Finally, as a man, remember that kindness in any form is never wasted. Character is what you are in the dark and the things you do when no one sees what you are doing. You can't call on it, you have to develop it over time. Never be afraid to ask for what you want, whether it's a job, a raise, respect or the hand of a woman. That's what being a man means -- knowing what you want and going out and getting it, honestly, with intention and with confidence.

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