8 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

In a week I will be 35. <insert horror movie screams>

Those ‘on the fives’ birthdays can be a real bitch. They always arrive with a fresh existential crisis. This particular birthday is not unlike any of the others. The panic-inducing questions flood my mind:

  • What am I doing with my life? 
  • How long will it take to get to where I want to be?
  • How could I waste so much time?
  • Why did I make all those mistakes?
  • Why can’t I get a re-do on the past few years?
  • Shouldn’t I have everything figured out by now?
When I begin to think these things, my brain knows that it’s not healthy, that this is the pathway to despair. Yet, somehow it can’t help but to try and devour itself. I have to remember that there are no re-do’s in life just as there are no perfect lives. We all live our own unique experiences. 
But I still can’t help but think about what I would tell myself 10 years ago to make life a little easier. (Besides putting all my money in Tesla.) 
So I wrote a list of some basic things I would tell myself, not because I think they’ll make any difference for my past, but if I remember them, they might just make a difference in my future:
  1. READ MORE. Yeah there are some really kick-ass shows on TV (especially one about Zombies in a few years), but you’ll be able to binge watch entire seasons of a show in one day. You don’t need to commit every night to channel surfing.
  2. CREATE MORE. Stop worrying that one person won’t like something you write. LOTS OF PEOPLE WON’T LIKE THINGS YOU WRITE. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep writing, that doesn’t mean you should ever stop making. Leaving a trail of failures you were brave enough to put out into the world is the only way to evolve.
  3. JUDGE LESS. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle or so the quote goes. This is especially true for friendships. Learn from your mistakes, let other people learn from theirs. In other words, mind yo business.
  4. MOVE ON FROM UNHEALTHY SITUATIONS. Stop staying in a job if you don’t like it. There are others. Make your own job, start your own gig. Don’t like your living situation? Find another one. In an unhealthy relationship? Find the exit. And stop rage quitting bad friendships. Just move on, save the drama.
  5. QUIT SCHOOL. Sure, having only half of the classes for a bachelor’s degree done and having to pay for it seems wasteful. Know what’s worse? Finishing the whole thing, finding out no one cares about degrees anymore, and that you would’ve been better off going to the library for free than having to pay for the whole inflated bundle of loans. Not to mention by the time you finish a degree program you’ll probably want to do something completely different. Teach yourself
  6. CUT THE CREDIT CARDS UP. Credit cards are designed to screw people. That’s it. They’re not helpful. They aren’t for “emergencies”. They’re for dummies who decide that a European vacation is a worthwhile candidate for CitiBank to mess your life up for several years. Yeah, that was me.
  7. STOP COMPARING. Live your life, let other people live theirs. So someone is rich, good for them. So someone is broke, hope they work it out. You can’t spend all your time worrying about imaginary benchmarks for life. They don’t exist. Only you and your unique journey exists. 
  8. STOP STANDING STILL. There’s no time in life to stay stagnant. There’s no time in life for a few “figuring things out” years. No one ever figures shit out. You don’t have to know what you want to do with your whole damned life, most people don’t know what they want for dinner. You know what you want to do right now, so do that and the next thing will make itself known when the time comes. Spending our lives under the delusion that we know a damned thing about what our world will look like in six months let alone six years is a complete delusion. Let it go.
  9. READ MORE. Just in case it didn’t sink in the first time. Stop writing this list and go read something.
What would your list be?

4 Responses to “8 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

  • This is a great list! I like how you framed this not in terms of regret, but with growth in mind. I suppose I would tell my younger self to also read more (particularly fiction), workout more, and not buy as much stuff.

    I struggle with my choice to go to school and grad school. At the time (pre-recession), the job market for my field seemed pretty good and like a good (albeit not high paying) choice. Though I racked up the student loans like so many of us(and am paying them still), I do think my education helped get me to where I want to be career/passion wise. Job wise? No, not at all. Not in this economy. But I can't make those degrees disappear, so I'll just embrace them. And when someone suggests that maybe I "go back to school" for something "practical," I'll be sure to graciously accept their suggestion with a grain of salt.

  • Happy birthday, James! I really enjoyed your list, and you have a great head start to be so introspective at this still-young stage of your life. One thing I would add to your list is that I wish I would have saved more when I was younger and in the corporate world. Thanks for writing a great post, and I hope you have a terrific birthday and a wonderful year.

    • Thanks Eliza! Yes, saving more is a great idea. Something I would love to really start doing as soon as I get rid of my pesky student loans. Thanks for reading it!

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