Talking To Myself At 21

I don’t know what your situation is, but ten years from now, life will not mean the same as it does today. Ten years from now, you will not have as much time. Pay attention now, I know what I’m talking about.

Three things will call to you: money, power and respect. They will scream your name. Do not answer, do not even think about answering, and do not chase them. If you find the path that’s meant for you (and I pray you do), you will have enough of all three, the portions you can handle.

Come second, bloom late, fail, whatever. Your time will still come, it has to. You may feel left behind, like everyone else is moving and you’re not. Please, it’s not true. For who I know you to be, it just cannot be true. Your clock ticks for you alone, and as long as you don’t waste the time you are given, you’ll find your way where you need to be at the best time for you. You’ve heard this before but repetition brings reinforcement: Love yourself. Be patient with yourself and have some faith in your abilities.

Accept your humanity and admit your weaknesses but don’t use them as an excuse for bad behaviour. You can be better. Don’t lie to yourself, don’t hide behind your moral frailty, don’t push change forward. Save yourself every time you have the power to do it, always picking self-sacrifice (for lasting rewards) over easy choices and temporary comforts. Cowardice has no true benefit.

You’re going to be tempted a lot, every day even. Don’t bow to the rise of lust, bend to the will of your body or break beneath the pressure of popular opinion. Mind over matter, like they say, because what’s inside you will always matter more than the outside. Don’t blend in, your soul is too beautiful to be camouflaged, but you should also not be too concerned about standing out; if you’re truly different, it’ll be obvious.

I pray you fall for a woman; not hair, curves or a society-approved waistline. Conventional standards of beauty are fickle and reductive, you should know better. Don’t get carried away with things designed to disappear, that’s a recipe for an empty life. The right company exists: the kind that nurtures, shares your values, believes in your process, respects you and is going where you’re headed. Find it. Until you do, do not be afraid to be alone. Aloneness is better than compromise.

A suit and a tie will not make a gentleman out of a thug, just like a foreign accent cannot improve foolish talk. Read that again slowly. Don’t get stuck on the superficial, don’t let it dazzle you. Whatever is beneath the surface will find its way out eventually.

Finding God is not complicated but life will get in the way if you let it. Talk to Him often, no one knows you like your Maker. And when you do, drop the pretentiousness of sanctimonious prayers, skip the long-winded speeches, just come as you are. Heaven is fine with the real you. More than talking, listen. There’s a stillness you cannot feel if you don’t shut your mouth.

Your time is not unlimited, not everything deserves it. Neither does everyone. Measure it out like it would kill you to waste it, because there’s no getting it back once it’s gone. Just ask the seventy-year-old who threw away a good life for a ‘good’ time. Ask them what it’s like to wake up every day wishing for a second chance, a way back, a reset button. This life, the only one you will ever have, is not a rehearsal. There are no do-overs. You cannot go back.

Sunset over the Atlantic

You’re going to make mistakes. I wish that wasn’t true, but you’re going to. You will let yourself down sometimes. Don’t wallow, don’t beat yourself up about them and don’t settle where you fall. Learn the lessons and move along at your pace. Getting lost while finding yourself isn’t only normal, it’s purposeful. Your story will not be tainted because you missed a few steps, that’s part of the journey. So be grateful for the wrong turns and treasure the hard-earned wisdom for saving other people from pitfalls.

The best version of you is not trapped in a distant memory or waiting in some undefined future. It is what you make of yourself today. Leave the past alone, it has no power over you beyond what you allow. Don’t obsess over tomorrow either, you can’t control everything. Accept that and you will have a lot less to worry about.

I love you. It took me a while to get there but I love you and I am proud of the man you’re becoming. I will keep rooting for you.

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