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Just got out of prison

EupfhoriaEupfhoria Registered User regular
edited March 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Yeah, yesterday I just got paroled after doing about 20 months in prison, for that most odious and unconscionable crime of getting into drugs in my late teens and twenties, and consequently being around some shitty and stupid people and getting myself into even shittier and stupider situations.

Really don't want to talk about the situation(s) that got me there, and I know what I need to change in my life, and what aspects of myself I need to sublimate or otherwise alter...

In fact I really don't know what advice I'm asking for, to be honest, but I guess one thing I wanted to ask is what would be some of your perceptions that you might have upon learning that someone is a convicted felon.

Obviously I don't plan on telling everyone I meet or see on the street 'hey, what's up. I just got out of prison', but then again if I do meet some new friends (which, incidentally, I really need to do because pretty much all of my erstwhile friends are drug users and/or complete dickbags) I will eventually need to tell them.

So maybe I do have some specific advice to ask for: how should I tell someone that I am a convicted felon? How can I do this tactfully, and without seeming weird or creepster-ish about it?

And also, if anyone else has had an adventure in the 'System', what kinds of practical advice can you give? (i.e., parole, getting (back) into college? is there funding/grants for college still available for me? travel restrictions for felons? etc. I realize this might not be the best place to ask this kind of thing, but hey, what the hell. Plus, you'd be surprised to find how difficult it can be to find this kind of information without paying for a lawyer)

Eupfhoria on

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Posts

  • OnTheLastCastleOnTheLastCastle and you're not happy, but you're funny and I'm tripping over my joyRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    It is not any person's business except your own that you were in prison. You're not on a sex registry or anything and your debt to society is paid. The only time you need to list it is if you're applying for a job or something official that specifically asks for criminal history.

    So don't feel like you need to tell anyone ever. Unless you want to. But it sounds like you feel like you need to explain it so probably just don't.

    Good luck. (and it is really good that you plan to avoid your old friends who led you into trouble because I have seen that go south many times)

    I'm a published writer and have a very unique and interesting writing style. I'm also sharp and witty. My profile is well-written and hilarious. My messages are likewise brilliant. And I've been doing this stuff for...four or five years. I know what "works" in terms of good internet dating writing. "Works" in the sense of leading to a "date" with a human female.
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Spending too much money eating out. That's about it. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    It is not any person's business except your own that you were in prison. You're not on a sex registry or anything and your debt to society is paid. The only time you need to list it is if you're applying for a job or something official that specifically asks for criminal history.

    So don't feel like you need to tell anyone ever. Unless you want to. But it sounds like you feel like you need to explain it so probably just don't.

    Good luck. (and it is really good that you plan to avoid your old friends who led you into trouble because I have seen that go south many times)

    Schools will definitely be asking about it. I know when I filled out my FAFSA they asked if I'd ever been convicted of a felony as well.

    You'll probably want to call the school you want to attend and make an appointment with an advisor.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • EupfhoriaEupfhoria Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Well, one reason I might need to tell someone in the 'meeting new friends' context is because if they happen to be a gun owner and have a gun or even just ammo in their house/car/where ever and I'm around, even without knowing anything about it, I could potentially get another 10 years federal time.

    This is especially relevant given the part of the country I live in (its a pretty gun-friendly/redneck kinda place)


    PSN/MGO- Eupfhoria
    XBL- Eupfhoric
  • OnTheLastCastleOnTheLastCastle and you're not happy, but you're funny and I'm tripping over my joyRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I meant explaining it to people. You do not have to.

    I very clearly said you do have to list it for a job or "something official that specifically asks for criminal history."

    I imagine there are support forums for people out of prison. They'd know a lot.

    edit: the gun thing: see, I just don't know anything about that so I can only comment on the social aspect.

    I'm a published writer and have a very unique and interesting writing style. I'm also sharp and witty. My profile is well-written and hilarious. My messages are likewise brilliant. And I've been doing this stuff for...four or five years. I know what "works" in terms of good internet dating writing. "Works" in the sense of leading to a "date" with a human female.
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Spending too much money eating out. That's about it. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I meant explaining it to people. You do not have to.

    I very clearly said you do have to list it for a job or "something official that specifically asks for criminal history."

    I imagine there are support forums for people out of prison. They'd know a lot.

    edit: the gun thing: see, I just don't know anything about that so I can only comment on the social aspect.

    I was only reaffirming it from personal experience. Dial back the defensive.

    As for reactions from people, personally I would be a little wary, especially because you were in for drug use. I've known a lot of people in your position and many of them aren't very trustworthy folks. Expect a lot of that. You're going to have to prove yourself to your new relations and friends.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • Muse Among MenMuse Among Men Suburban Bunny Princess? Its time for a new shtick Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I would probably be a bit wary of someone that was a felon, to be honest. I think it would really help if you didn't look the part of an ex-convict. That is to say, maintain yourself reasonably well groomed, don't get tattoos, and don't wear dirty, ratty clothes. Boring dress shirts and khaki maybe? I don't know how old you are but at some point wearing long shorts, tennis and graphic tees makes a man look immature and you really don't want that right now. If you have scruffy facial hair grow it out into a handsome beard/mustache combo or get clean shaven. Scruffy just won't work at this point.

    That gun thing sounds like unfair bullshit and I can see why you would be worried. You know how there are gun pride bumper stickers? The opposite exist too. Anyone who sees your car would see it.

  • AiouaAioua Novus Ordo Seclorum Lord of the ForumRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    One of my friends was in prison for a couple of years. Its not really a thing... the shitty guy who got himself into prison isn't the same guy that came out. He's just a nice normal dude, who happens to have a bunch of hilarious prison stories.

    As long as you don't introduce yourself as 'Hi, I'm Eupfhoria, and I just got out of prison!' I think you should be fine. If you act like a normal dude, and people get to like you, when they find out you were in prison it's just interesting.
    And really, if someone decided they didn't want to hang out with you after finding out, even though they know your a normal guy? Fuck 'em.

    ( Edit: and yeah it sucks that my friend can't go shooting with us :( )

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  • GrizzledGrizzled Registered User
    edited March 2011
    I would echo Aioua. I would let people get to know you, and then if it comes up it comes up. I've known a fair number of people with felony convictions. Some of them were terrible people, some of them were good people who made terrible mistakes. Just like the rest of us. I judged them on the way they acted in the present, with a little extra circumspection when around those who had done something particularly dangerous.

    In terms of telling people about it, I think the approach that put me most at ease was to briefly make the point that your old lifestyle got you into prison, and your new lifestyle is different. For example:

    "Yeah, that was a really screwed up time in my life, and I made a lot of mistakes; sometimes I don't know what I was thinking. But it really made me reevaluate where I was going and now I'm 100% focused on my job/education/children/whatever and staying out of trouble and away from drugs - I never want to go through that again".

    After making that kind of statement, it is basically up to you to live up to it and let other people see that it is true.

    And really, if someone decided they didn't want to hang out with you after finding out, even though they know your a normal guy? Fuck 'em.

    In regards to the gun thing, you could just make it really really clear that you don't want to be around guns, and if you are pressed you can tell them why. If people can't respect that, then again, too bad for them. I don't have any experience living in an area where guns are a part of daily experience, but I certainly made a point of telling my old acquaintances that they were not to bring their weapons into my house, car, or when hanging out with me in public. Sometimes that means you have to pass on an activity or an opportunity to get a ride or something, but just remind yourself that you don't want to go back to prison.

    Best of luck to you.

    Robman wrote: »
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  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Eupfhoria wrote: »
    Yeah, yesterday I just got paroled...

    ... is there funding/grants for college still available for me? travel restrictions for felons? etc. I realize this might not be the best place to ask this kind of thing, but hey, what the hell. Plus, you'd be surprised to find how difficult it can be to find this kind of information without paying for a lawyer)

    Wouldn't your PO be the best person to talk to regarding what support you can get and what limitations you will have now that you are a felon?

    I'm assuming that since you were paroled that you'll be restricted from interstate travel, but again, your PO is the person to ask. There should be some kind of work program that will get you employed. You might have to put up with some shitty jobs for a while, but it beats a cell.

    The good news is that you seem really anxious to get on with your life and leave the "old you" (along with the old friends and the old lifestyle) behind, which is awesome. I wish you luck.

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I think the explanation you gave in your OP is pretty much enough for casual conversation: I got into drugs and involved with some bad people and made some dumb decisions. Folks can connect the dots on their own, and if you get to know them well enough then they can have whatever the whole story is. It's not likely to be a sticking point for most people, and if it is, to hell with them anyway.

    WRT scholarships: there are some important particulars: if you were convicted of a drug crime, or were convicted of a crime while in college and/or receiving financial aid, a lot of federal and state programs are going to be closed to you. Strangely, the the federal financial aid system is a lot more forgiving of folks who commit non-drug related crimes (even violent ones), and also of folks who commit crimes while not a student. There's probably title four money available to you, but depending on what you were convicted of it's likely to be substantially restricted. Fill out a FAFSA; there's no way it can hurt you and it'll be required for any government aid you do qualify for. Your parole officer might be able to offer more direction about this, but if not, I would reach out to whatever your local community college is. It'll be much cheaper to start your education there anyway, and they'll be able to help you figure out how to pursue financial aid.

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  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Specifically to the firearms limitations (and also other possible limitations) which might get you more time, I would suggest limiting the places you go to your own residence and public areas and post a sign or explain to anyone entering your house that you do not want firearms (and other stuff) inside.

    I don't know what the specific limitations on your parole are but if it was me I would stay away from any area where it might even possibly happen, and you really have no control over what people have in their own house or private clubs, even if you specifically tell them you cannot be around them.

    My recommendation if you want to tell people would be either saying you can't be around them for other legal reasons (it's not really their business why you can not be around them) or be full and up front about why you are on parole, whatever they might imagine is probably worse.

    Again though I will echo that it's not really anyone's business.

    There is also something about expunging it from your record or something after time? I don't really know.

    Good luck, you can get through this.

    He's a superhumanly strong soccer-playing romance novelist possessed of the uncanny powers of an insect. She's a beautiful African-American doctor with her own daytime radio talk show. They fight crime!
  • ATIRageATIRage Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    From my perspective, if someone is asking you in an official capacity, just answer truthfully. From what it sounds like you are very young. Although you've made bad decisions in the past, if you are honest, forthright, and genuine about making things better, then the people who request that information will see that.

    As for your hopefully better and new friends, it is a good idea to keep your prior history to yourself until your friends move from just friends to really good friends that you can trust. You don't need to wear that fact that you were in prison on your sleeve.

    As for being around guns being a violation of parole, your conditions of parole are what they are. You need to comply. Thus, if your friends have guns, you don't go to their house. The fact that your movements are somewhat restricted by parole regulations may require you to be more forthright with your friends about your past. That sucks, but it is what it is.

  • RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Unfortunately, there's a large stigma about convicted people in most circles. Fortunately, if they know you or even have talked five minutes to you before they hear that you were convicted, you usually get pulled out of the "convicted people" slot in their minds, and put into the "people" slot in their minds, with a little tag that says "was once convicted".

    If you would have told me three years ago that you were a felon that served time, I would have quietly tried to go the other way and not associate with you, but I've begun to realize some of my biases like that recently, so I would like to think that I would at least give you a shot.

    There's no reason for you to tell most people that you were convicted when you first meet them. Sure, if it comes up, then you can tell them, but let them set their initial impression of you first.

  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Now I don't want to sound preachy or anything but if part of your parole doesn't already include going through a program like Narcotics Anonymous, it might be a good thing to do even if you never plan on doing drugs again. As a plus if you ever have to explain your situation to people, being able to add that you went to NA and have been clean for ___ years/months should give the impression that you're serious about wanting to change.

    GT: Acidboogie PSNid: AcidLacedPenguiN
  • Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    My friend got his brother a job in plumbing after he did a few years, and he is doing very well. So being a Con is certainly not the end of the world. i think a lot of corporate office type jobs are going to throw right on the DENIED pile once that "convicted of a crime" field of the application has been filled out. but going back to college is a great way to throw a wrench in that stigma that a lot of employers have.

  • ED!ED! Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Eupfhoria wrote: »
    is there funding/grants for college still available for me?

    Yes. Get on that ASAP. Deadline to file is almost past the priority point; even if you do NOT attend a local school, at least you have the FAFSA on file, if you choose to attend for spring semester.

    It when you are receiving financial aid and you get the drug conviction that is the biggie. I would say getting back into school is probably the easiest way to avoid falling into old circles and helping to build new ones.

    So yea, fill out the FAFSA right now.

    "Get the hell out of me" - [ex]girlfriend
  • SarcastroSarcastro Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    It's not a personal reaction, but on my part, we could never be more than the merest of acquaintances. My work requires that I submit to background checks from time to time, and not only do they check me, but also all of my friends and sometimes even their friends. An ex-con in the circle could be potentially limiting, so I probably wouldn't risk it.

    Personally though, other issues aside, I'd absolutely give you a shot. You are who you are, not who you were.

    Edcrab wrote: »
    "See," said Lucifer, "God's an asshole."
  • Descendant XDescendant X Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Speaking as someone in the post-prison field, albeit in Canada, the most important thing that you can do is change who you spend your time with. Those guys you used to hang out with and got into trouble with? You need to pretend that they do not exist. If your PO finds out that you're chumming around with anyone you shouldn't, you'll be under a microscope.

    That said, your PO should also be able to help you with some of these questions, or at least point you in the right direction. See if your area has a John Howard Society. They're there to point you in the right direction as well.

    Whatever you end up doing, do not get discouraged. If you get down on yourself and begin to beat yourself up over your past you have a greater chance of falling back into old habits.

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  • EupfhoriaEupfhoria Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    yeah, I plan on attending NA at least occasionally, and part of my parole is completing an Intensive Out-Patient drug treatment.

    And I will not be hanging around anyone I used to know. Right now, the plan is really just to get a job, complete parole (about a year), get back into school, and spend the rest of the time with family (and maybe spend a little free time playing some games)

    The shitty part about the gun thing is that I was a gun owner and really like to go shooting. Sucks, but knowing what the consequences are, I won't allow them to even be around me anymore.

    Also yes, I've heard that expunging your record is possible, after so many years (5-7, I think), but it comes down to someone else decision, so I can't really count on it.

    I see my PO for the first time tomorrow, so I'll have to see what he says. I should probably write down some questions I want to ask.

    thanks for the advice, guys


    PSN/MGO- Eupfhoria
    XBL- Eupfhoric
  • OnTheLastCastleOnTheLastCastle and you're not happy, but you're funny and I'm tripping over my joyRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Best of luck. You certainly sound like you want to make a fresh start so that's great. People will see that and it'll make all the difference in the world.

    I'm a published writer and have a very unique and interesting writing style. I'm also sharp and witty. My profile is well-written and hilarious. My messages are likewise brilliant. And I've been doing this stuff for...four or five years. I know what "works" in terms of good internet dating writing. "Works" in the sense of leading to a "date" with a human female.
  • lewsivlewsiv Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Be careful when having someone expunge convictions from your criminal record. As someone who orders background checks we have had many instances of things showing up that were supposedly expunged. Depending on the type of background check being run different things show up.

    On an FBI check everything shows, convictions and even charges. Charges can not be held against you for employment purposes but convictions can depending on the type of work you are going into.

    Good Luck.

  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    lewsiv wrote: »
    Charges can not be held against you for employment purposes

    So they lie about why they are firing/not hiring you.

  • OrganichuOrganichu Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Eupfhoria wrote: »
    Well, one reason I might need to tell someone in the 'meeting new friends' context is because if they happen to be a gun owner and have a gun or even just ammo in their house/car/where ever and I'm around, even without knowing anything about it, I could potentially get another 10 years federal time.

    This is especially relevant given the part of the country I live in (its a pretty gun-friendly/redneck kinda place)

    wrt this one thing: the firearm needs to be 'reasonably accessible' to you. so, a firearm resting casually on a coffee table in front of you is bad. but you can absolutely be friends with gun owners, assuming their firearm is secured against 'reasonable' seizure.

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    A friend of mine had a felony drug charge and has been able to work with children, teach, and win back his right to vote.

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  • TL DRTL DR Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    -FAFSA / federal student aid will only be denied to you if you were receiving it when you were charged with a crime
    -Your past is your own business. It's the kind of thing that you'd want to tell someone eventually, but it doesn't need to be brought up if it doesn't come up. You can always allude to a rough patch without going into details.
    -Practice, in whatever language works for you, the statement 'It was a stupid mistake and I'm not going to let it define the rest of my life.' Good for job interviews.

    Speaking of job interviews, what kind of employment are you looking for? Federal student aid will run a background check for certain, as will government employment or most positions of handling money or for a larger corporation. A small business owner might be more likely to just get a good impression and run with it, especially if you can drum up some references.

    Dress nice. All the time. Especially when you're seeing your PO and to job interviews. People need to assume it unthinkable that this fine looking kid was mixed up in some trouble.

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  • LockedOnTargetLockedOnTarget Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    A past involving drugs and prison? Sounds like you should just record a rap album. That seems to be what the cool kids do.

    Seriously, though, things may be tough but a lot of the advice given so far seems pretty good. I think you should probably get as many details about this gun thing as you can. Make sure you know exactly what can and can't get you into trouble.

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  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2011

    Speaking of job interviews, what kind of employment are you looking for? Federal student aid will run a background check for certain, as will government employment or most positions of handling money or for a larger corporation. A small business owner might be more likely to just get a good impression and run with it, especially if you can drum up some.

    Any position handling confidential info as well. I've had mine run for jobs because I handle paperwork with lots of private info in them. A lot of other places run them too. I volunteer at an aquarium that runs them and if you are a convicted felon you can't volunteer.

  • ATIRageATIRage Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    The key is man, do not be afraid of reporting your past. It might make things more difficult up front, but the people you would rather be working for, or learning from are the people who are willing to look at you as a whole and see that you are trying to do better in your life.

    Life is complicated, we all do dumb stuff. Some more severe than others. Everyone gets a second chance. If you can be forthright, and turn your past into something that shows recruiters, examiners, and other people that you really learned a lesson, you'd be surprised how much people will be willing to overlook your criminal record.

    If you need help with navigating financial aid for a college: go to that schools financial aid officer and ask for all the information for applying for aid (and ask that person for help in filling the information out, that is what they are paid to do).

    If you have troubles find a job, see if there are community groups who specialize in helping parolees get back on their feet. Talk to others and see how they have managed to get by with their criminal past.

    Remember that your life is going to be harder now, but that doesn't mean that you don't have a whole lot more life to live.

  • kaliakalia Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    ATIRage wrote: »
    If you have troubles find a job, see if there are community groups who specialize in helping parolees get back on their feet.
    In my area, at least when I worked for the welfare department, this most definitely existed - and wasn't very well advertised.

    There are, from what I've heard, actually employers who look at someone who's coming out of prison as a plus. They feel that you'll be more reliable & dependable.

  • RethiusRethius Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Hey, just wanted to chime in here. My girlfriend's mother is in federal prison for selling drugs, and all of her sisters are in and out of jail every 10 months for drug related issues. There's a long story about why my girlfriend was spared this life, but I won't get into it.

    Basically, there will be people who will write you off when they find out about your past. It sucks, but it's the way it is. I think the advice most people have given you so far about keeping your past to yourself until you can show most people that you're a cool and normal guy is the best policy.

    But please, please, please stay away from any shitty friends you used to have. My girlfriends sisters... every time they get out, they try so hard to get clean and stay out of jail. They come out with the best of intentions, and inevitably they start hanging out with shitbags again (just once, for old times sake. gotta catch up, it's been a while!), they start doing drugs again and lying about it (terribly), and they end up back in jail.

    It's so easy to slip up. I've lost all hope with them. Her father is an ex-con (again, with drugs), and the only way that he was able to stay clean and out was to move across the country and away from every bad influence. Now he's doing really well, and has been off probation for years and years.

    Anyway, best of luck. I may not be much help, but feel free to PM me if you ever want to play a game or something, I know that finding a new group of people to hang out with can be really difficult.

  • BerkshireBerkshire Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    You know, reading this thread I was thinking to myself about whether or not I know anybody who's ever been to prison. I came to the conclusion that I do not. But I also came to the conclusion that if I did, and I didn't know the circumstances, it would be kind of an asshole move for me to judge them.

    The old phrase goes "What have you done for me lately?" People who are worth knowing, if they know your past, will appreciate who you are and what you're doing NOW, as opposed to who your were THEN. The past isn't something you can change, and anybody with a little bit of sense realizes that.

    Something that might help you would be volunteering. I know it's not as cool as getting paid for work you do, but if you're having trouble getting into a job/school, a needy organization (and a grateful supervisor who can give you a good reference) might be your best friend. If you like animals, volunteering at a shelter would probably be a good way to go. I can see someone having concerns about having you work with kids right away, so if an animal shelter isn't an option, soup kitchens usually are. Showing that you're ready and willing to give back to the community can go a long way in convincing a potential employer that you're not a risk.

    I second the advice of a small business owner being your best bet at getting a job right off the bat. Hiring for state jobs is pretty regimented, and being a convicted felon will screw you over.

    Best of luck- the fact that you want to turn life around is an important first step. I hope you get where you want to go.

    "And don't you ever stand for that sort of thing. Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back."
    GT: FootlongKaPow
  • SkySky Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Welcome back to the free world. Good luck, stay strong, stay smart.

    Sky
    Wannabe writer (war, action, fantasy, history, power struggle), video gamer (strategy, simulation, action), former Soldier.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/skyanimal
  • The Black HunterThe Black Hunter Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I would probably be a bit wary of someone that was a felon, to be honest. I think it would really help if you didn't look the part of an ex-convict. That is to say, maintain yourself reasonably well groomed, don't get tattoos, and don't wear dirty, ratty clothes. Boring dress shirts and khaki maybe? I don't know how old you are but at some point wearing long shorts, tennis and graphic tees makes a man look immature and you really don't want that right now. If you have scruffy facial hair grow it out into a handsome beard/mustache combo or get clean shaven. Scruffy just won't work at this point.

    That gun thing sounds like unfair bullshit and I can see why you would be worried. You know how there are gun pride bumper stickers? The opposite exist too. Anyone who sees your car would see it.

    A silly as it could seem, I agree with muse

    Now is as good a time as ever to classy up.

    Find a long term plan, don't be afraid to do a trade, electricians and plumbers can both make very very good money

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