Monday, 17 August 2015

Things I Wish I Knew

I just sent off a package the old fashioned way... by mail... so they can promise a delivery date... and the horse dies... and it's late... again. I swear the post office still uses the pony express and there's a secret livery and trail hidden in the shrubbery behind the office.
The whole ordeal (which wasn't really an ordeal) got me thinking about writing letters. Real letters. The ones with ink and good quality paper and an envelope you hated to lick and a stamp on the corner and exploding pens. I sometimes miss those. It was less of an instant world back then.
Of course, I would have to wait days or weeks for a reply which would make me mentally unstable. I wonder what that says about me? Hmm...
Anyway, if we could write letters and mail them backward to our younger selves, what would we say? What advice would we give that innocent, awkward person? Would anything I say now make a difference in their lives? I suppose it would only make a difference if I had learned something along the way.
The younger me might think I had become temporarily insane... on a permanent basis. He would certainly be appalled at my language.
I would probably write a letter to myself when I was fourteen. My grandfather had died a few months before and my parents were splitting up. It was one of the darker times I can remember. I could have used a letter from my future self then.
So here goes...
Dear Me,
Everything is going to be alright.
Life is going to be messy at times. It just happens. It's messy for everyone. Sometimes it will look like there aren't any options or it will feel like the world is crashing around you. There are moments when you won't know which direction to take and it will still be okay. Just keep getting up. No matter how many times you get knocked down, keep... getting... up. It gets better. I promise.
You're only old if you convince yourself you're old.
When it comes to girls and women, don't be so afraid. They're just as scared shitless as you are. Probably more so since they are being judged by society at every turn. You're not as freaky to them as you seem to think. Just be yourself. The right people will show up at the right time.
There is a difference between giving up and deciding this isn't what you want.
Slow down! Not everything has to be done immediately. You'll finish school when you finish school. You'll get married when you get married. You'll learn to drive when you're ready. You'll be legal drinking age when you're legal. Not everything that looks adult really is adult behavior so stop being in such a frigging rush to get there. Trust me... where you're at now is a lot more fun so enjoy it.
Take advice with a grain of salt (even mine... which is your own... only we're older... in most ways). Most life advice given by people is their way of convincing themselves they know what they're doing when the truth is they are playing it by ear just like everyone else. Their advice is based on their experience, which will never be your experience. Keep what they say in the back of your mind and blaze your own trail anyway. Live your life your way. Use their advice when it makes sense to you.
You're never going to be ready so just try.
Respect those who respect you. Those who don't respect you are to be removed as soon as possible. If there is one thing I have learned that has changed the way we live our life, it is this... no-one is allowed to be disrespectful of you or your character. There's no need to stand up and fight about it. It's a better man who simply walks away.
Trust your judgment. You're a pretty bright guy. There is going to be some shit you might not know how to handle and that is when you ask for help. As good as you are at figuring things out, there are times when it's just too big for you to handle. Someone will show up to help. And so you know, it often won't be who you think or hope it will be.
There is always an answer.
If you try something and it doesn't work, you can always back up. You're allowed to go back to the fork in the road and decide to take a different path. There is no rule which says you cannot reverse and try something different. Forcing forward is not always the best solution. Most paths lead to other paths and life crisscrosses itself anyway. The path to a goal is seldom a straight line. And your goals will change as you get older. There is no deadline in life. There is no ending of to-do lists. There is always something more to do and when the end comes, there will still be more. Do what you can as best you can as honorably as you can.
Be true to yourself.
You are valuable, no matter your station in life. Whether you dig ditches or discover new worlds, you have value. Remember that everyone else, no matter their station in life, also has value and are to be respected. They are doing the best they can with what they know... just like you.
Everyone who shows up in your life is there for a reason.
Don't be too influenced by what others are doing. You might feel like they are ahead of you or behind you because they are married or have kids or are vice-president or discovered a vaccine. They have a different path. They have different things to learn. Your path is exactly where you are supposed to be. Judging yourself against another person's success only makes you feel less than you really are.
Don't be too proud of your successes. Don't be to hard on yourself if you fail.
Don't be in too big of a hurry to get into relationships. Instead of becoming somebody's just to feel like somebody's somebody, focus on being a somebody. True love, whether with friends or partners or family, will inspire you to be a better man. If someone's idea of love is "what have you done for me lately" or they try to "fix" you, it's time to go. If a relationship breaks, sometimes it's best to let it go and leave the pieces alone rather than cut yourself trying to put the pieces back together.
There will be times when you are alone. It's okay to be there. Don't be afraid to venture out on your own. No-one cares if you dine alone in a restaurant or go hiking alone or travel alone or show up at a function alone. Anyone who judges you for being alone has their own issues and it has nothing to do with you.
Don't downplay a sincere compliment.
All the stuff that has happened to you is gone. Don't forget about it because we are all an accumulation of our experiences. But, don't let those unsupportive experiences run your life. If someone treats you badly, leave them behind. If you make a mistake, leave it behind. Your past is no indication of how your future will turn out.
Reminisce about the good things.
Read. A lot. Read books on a variety of subjects. Learning doesn't end when school is out.
Listen more than you speak. Hear what the other person is saying.
Make sure you get out into nature as much as possible. Try new things. Your confidence will build as you become successful at more activities. You don't have to be the best at any of them. Just knowing that you can is enough.
How much money you have does not determine your worth. How much compassion you have for yourself and others does.
Give a shit.
Don't be afraid to feel too much, to say too much or to care too much. Feeling does not mean you are crazy. Saying how you feel does not make you crazy. Caring about other people does not mean you are crazy. Them not accepting that you care or feel means they are crazy.
In the end, it is your life. Be open to any possibility. Be vulnerable. Be courageous. Be yourself. Share who you are.
You're far more valuable than you think.

Your future self