We’ve all fantasised about going back in time – perhaps to a life changing event or to re-enact a wonderful memory from our past. Reliving the first holiday without our parents, reminiscing about our first kiss or those hot, childhood summers that seemed to last forever.
Our brain does a brilliant job of filtering out the pain and the hurt in favour of these moments. It’s probably why the horror of last weekend’s Jack Daniel’s induced hangover isn’t carried forward to our next drinking session.
The rose tinted specs do their job.
Memories can therefore become distorted. What we think occurred may not have happened quite the way we remember. Hindsight, whilst being a wonderful thing – is pretty useless. There is no such thing as a difficult exam once you have looked at the answers.
That’s why learning from our past mistakes is difficult. Our past self and our current self are two completely different people. The plans we made yesterday don’t necessarily align with the plans we want to implement today.
Tomorrow’s plans may as well not exist.
If only we could go back in time and rewrite history. Erase our bad memories from existence. Take opportunities that we missed out first time around and save ourselves years of hassle by choosing the right path to begin with.
Alas, that time has passed.
So I want to do something a little different.
I want to meet the younger Jamie.
I want to warn him about all of the mistakes that he will make during the next 15 years of his life.
Apparently, we’re not supposed to interfere with the past in case we rip a hole in the space time continuum or drastically alter the future. Like that scene in The Simpsons when Homer steps on a bug and when transported back to the present day, realises that his family have crazy lizard tongues.
It could happen. Don’t mess.
But what if we could have a chat with our younger selves; think how amazing that would be.
Usually, most people try and pass on their life experience to their children, but seeing as I don’t have any of the little terrors running around – this is the next best thing.
Sadly, science has yet to offer us the opportunity to travel back in time or to meet our younger self. Yet, when it does happen – this is how I envisage the conversation going down;
Jamie – sit down, shut up, listen and learn.
1. Don’t worry, you’ll never be bullied again
“How can you be so sure? I was pushed around a few weeks ago by someone who wanted to pick a fight.”
“Trust me; you’ve already started going to the gym and within a few years you’ll be big enough that no one will try their luck; and they haven’t since.”
“Cool, I’ve always wanted to be like Jean Claude Van Damme. Do I get to kick some ass?”
“No. Remember that fight you had 2 years ago? That will be your last.”
“Meh, probably for the best…”
2. You may have only kissed one girl so far but you’ll do alright
“I’m not gay you know… I just haven’t found the right girl yet…”
“Calm down you fool. I said you’ll do fine. Give it a few years and you will make up for lost time, I promise.”
“I can’t believe that. Nobody seems to be interested in me…”
“It’s because you haven’t really tried. Trust me, you’ll start putting in the effort soon and besides…”
3. Your virginity is almost up
“Yes, I told you not to worry.”
“But I’m worried that I will be the last of my friends to have sex. I’m also pretty nervous that I will do something wrong.”
“You won’t be last, you’ll be going on holiday next year, and while it won’t be the most enjoyable experience, at least you’ll be off the mark. You’ll also never hear a Welsh accent the same way again!”
“Now I’m really scared…”
4. You will always be scared, but it’s normal
“Wait, what? I thought you said I become big and strong?”
“Yes, but fear doesn’t necessarily arise from confrontation. It can occur through regret, expectation and a lack of confidence.”
“So what are you trying to tell me?”
“Accept fear. It’s completely normal and even high achievers experience it daily. Just don’t allow it to stop you from trying something new.”
5. Work harder at college and go to university
“I’m pretty bored at college. My course is ok but I just can’t be bothered with it. I don’t think I want to pursue a career as a personal trainer or gym instructor, let alone continue with education.”
“Keep up with it. You don’t have to go to university just yet. Wait until you are 21, don’t work at Tesco and apply for University. I waited until I was 32 but you can get there 11 years earlier.”
“So what, you became lazy?”
“That pretty much sums up my twenties, young man!”
6. There is a reason why you feel lost…
“You don’t quite understand it yet, but that lack of energy and motivation is a sign of depression.”
“Don’t be stupid, I have nothing to be sad about.”
“That’s not how it works. It’s an illness, but don’t worry. You will be fine. Just don’t ever believe that you are alone – it’s more common than you think.”
“Hmm, I’m worried.”
“It’s ok, just…”
7. Don’t drift apart from your best friends
“Why would I do that?”
“You don’t do it intentionally, but over time people change and life gets in the way. 2009 is the turning point – if you move away, remember to keep in regular contact with everyone.”
“Ok, but why did you allow them to slip away?”
“A combination of a new town, new friends and laziness… it’s never too late to re-connect, but save yourself the hassle and don’t be like me.”
“I’m not going to be like you… you’re stupid.”
8. Your arm size is going to increase by 4 inches
“Yep, you’ll start training seriously within a few years so knuckle down now while your raging hormones are still in abundance. You could even grow bigger than me.”
“So I will have more girls interested in me?”
“Yeh, something like that…”
“Maybe you’re not as stupid as I thought!”
9. People will laugh at your goals but you can’t let them drag you down
“Who will laugh at me? What goals?”
“You will learn that most people are happy with their lot. Or to put it another way, they haven’t the balls to change their lives. They will look down upon those who dare to dream.”
“I see… so what sort of things will I be aiming for?”
“Initially you will want to become a rock star, but that is fleeting. After this you’ll want to quit your job and live life on your own terms.”
“A rock star? But I hate spandex!”
“You’re not auditioning for a role in Motley Crue, you berk.”
10. If you ever find yourself laying on your bed, hugging a girl that you really care about – do something… anything!
“But you said I will lose my virginity soon and meet lots of girls…”
“Yeh, but you’re still gonna act like a complete pussy on occasion.”
“Not me. I will have huge arms and be a future member of Mutley Spew.”
“Motley Crue!!! Do you ever pay attention? Anyway, just promise me that if there is someone you really like, kiss them or do something proactive…”
“Ok I promise.”
11. Retail work is not for you…
“No shit! I hate working on a checkout. Retail sucks.”
“I’m sorry to say you’ll be working in various supermarkets and department stores until the age of 31.”
“Kill me now!”
“It’s ok – you don’t have to follow my path. Start teaching guitar as soon as possible and earn money on your own terms.”
“Teach guitar? I suck pretty hard right now…”
“You’ll be pretty good soon, so keep playing and it’ll come.”
12. By the way, all minimum wage jobs suck…
“I could have told you that!”
“Yeh – so don’t do it. If you have to work somewhere, choose something that pays relatively well.”
“Is this why you wanted to be a rock star, you’re after the big bucks?”
“Not really, but money allows you to…”
13. Get off your ass and go travelling. In 2013 you will have a massive urge to visit New York, so trust me; go there within the next 2 years.
“Why in the next 2 years?”
“For some insane reason you develop a bit of a ‘thing’ for skyscrapers and soon the two most iconic will be the target of a terrorist attack. So visit the World Trade Center before it’s too late.”
“You’re a bit strange, you know that right?”
14. I’ve been on hundreds of nights out and spent thousands over the last 15 years. Save some of that money instead.
“Save for what? I want to party like its 1999.”
“You’re not funny.”
“So what’s wrong with having fun?”
“Shh. Listen to you elders. All I’m saying is that you will waste a lot of money on nights out that you don’t even enjoy. Reel it in a little and try not to spend so much when you do go out.”
15. You know that internet thing that is full of boobs and funny conversations? Ignore that and start a blog!
“Boobs? Those things take 60 seconds to load on my screen.”
“You just wait until broadband then…”
“Nevermind – start a blog and write about something that you love doing. Keep it up a few years and you could start earning some decent money.”
“Really? Can I write about boobs?”
“Oh dear Lord…”
16. Drop all of that Indie nonsense and start listening to Metallica – you’re going to do it eventually so you may as well start now.
“I’ve heard of them. I think I like that album ‘Reload’ but I don’t think I will ever stop listening to Indie music. I love it.”
“Just buy ‘Master of Puppets’ and save yourself the hassle of going through your ‘Limp Bizkit’ phase.”
“Don’t they have Viagra for that kinda thing nowadays?”
“I’m going to punch you in the face!”
17. Being uncomfortable in large crowds is normal, so don’t panic.
“I don’t think I panic in large crowds. Is this some future disease you’re going to give me?”
“Stop being a drama queen. You’re what they call a highly sensitive person.”
“Now you’ve hurt my feelings…”
“Man up. It just means that as an introvert, you’re more sensitive to your environment. It’s also a good excuse not to talk to people you have no interest in.”
“Cool. Can I stop talking to you?”
“Not yet, we’re almost done.”
18. Believe in yourself
“At times you will question yourself. Your lack of confidence will be crippling on occasion. Fear will smack you around and your ego will take a hiding from all directions.
But guess what?
We all go through this.
You’re stronger than you think – people are stronger than you think. You will meet hundreds, if not thousands of people in the next 15 years and in some way, they will all influence the person you will eventually become.
Never hate. Don’t hold back. Give 100% of yourself to everything you do and marvel at the wonders that will come your way.
Your life will always be a blank canvas. Whether you’re eighteen, thirty-three or it’s your last day on earth – you will have the opportunity to change – to progress – to become the person you’ve always believed you could be.
We all do. Nothing is set in stone.
Anyone who tells you differently is just scared. Don’t be like them, be like you.
You are you.
This was awesome! I smiled and chucked the whole way through.
Best parts were…
– Chill about getting girls. They will come. And the whole losing your virginity. I’m only 22 but I can relate so much to that 4-5 years ago.
– I understand 9 completely. Thanks for that advice.
– 14 is genius. I’ve been doing that for the past 1.5 years. I’s reassuring to know that I’m not completely mad. Most people my age think I’m a weirdo for not partying every weekend spending $200…
– 16… Fade to Black is one of my favorite songs.
SEBASTIAN recently posted..Madly In Love
4-5 years ago? You teenage dirtbag haha!
Fade to black is awesome. For years it was my favourite Metallica song and I remember taking an age to learn the solo. You’ve gone up in my estimation young man! 😀
Put a smile on my face:) Great advice! I would take nothing from my journey now.
Hey Lana, thanks. A smile a day is what it’s all about!
very nice and inspirational too
Thank you Karan!
Beautiful post my friend, this one really resonated with me 🙂 Two things came to mind when I read it.
– When I read #6 (on being lost), I immediately thought back to a couple of years ago when my girlfriend and I were laying in bed. I had had a rough day, and was in a pretty shitty mood, and then she said to me, “you’re not as lost as you think you are”. It’s a phrase I often repeat to myself that I keep growing more and more fond of
– When I finished reading this post, another quote came to mind, this one from Steve Jobs: “You can only connect the dots looking backward”. The connection to your post is pretty obvious, but I thought I’d share if you hadn’t heard it before.
Loved this one. Keep cranking them out!
Chris Bailey recently posted..How to determine the highest-leverage activities in your work
Holy crap, that’s one of the best pieces of wisdom I think I have ever heard. Not Jobs, your missus! We’re our own worst critic at times and it’s hard to get a completely objective view of ourselves.
That Steve Jobs quote is also true. I also think we shouldn’t try to connect the dots as we go along – the present is for living, not analysing.
Thanks for your kind words, Chris!
Very well done – and witty.
Of course I’ve thought about what I would say to my younger self (although the age changes frequently).
Hindsight does seem to be 20-20 doesn’t it?
Would I have turned out the same way if I had known any better? Of course not…but is it better this way?
I don’t suppose I’ll ever find out.
And I don’t think I would have ever learned to appreciate what I know now if I hadn’t felt the intense pain of not knowing back then – which led to my discovering all the things I would have told that young and naive girl.
Like building those arm muscles – sometimes the resistance is necessary for the growth.
I do know one thing though. If I had the chance (in concept only) – I’d love to tell my 22 yr old self a few things about self-respect. She couldda used that talk 😉
Dana recently posted..My Recent Lack of Blog Posts
The truth is, even if we could teach ourselves how to live a better life, that younger person would still make other mistakes. Life is a never ending pursuit of a perfection that never comes. It’s not supposed to. That’s what makes it interesting!
Imagine the 60 year old Dana coming to teach you about life. What would she say? Whatever you think… start changing now. 🙂
No words. Beautifully put. I be rather working on what I’d tell my 18-year self.
Thanks for this.
Pooja recently posted..Episode 2: The Second Principle of Success: Take Action
Hey Pooja. Thanks for your kind words.
Love the way you guided your readers as though you travelled back in time as a ghost or something! Cool post, Jamie, really enjoyed your “conversation,” and beautifully written.
“Accept fear. It’s completely normal and even high achievers experience it daily. Just don’t allow it to stop you from trying something new.” ==> This advice resonates most with me. It could be a game changer for many.
Jeremy recently posted..4 Mistakes You Are Making When Trying To Connect With Successful People
A ghost? Hey, I’m very much still alive and well! 😉
Thanks for your kind words and it’s great to hear that you took something from the article!
Oh the things I would tell myself if I could go back in time lol. I like the first part about working out. I was about 150 lbs soaking wet and I’m 6’3″. If I could have told the younger me not to freight because soon you’ll be 230 lbs I probably wouldn’t have believed myself.
John recently posted..The Best BCAA Supplement
Great post, I’d have to tell my younger self to slow down and enjoy the journey. I was too quick about wanting to become an “adult.” But now really wished I’d slow down, have more fun, and enjoy being younger.
Dan, you can enjoy being young now! Your older self may regret it if not.. 🙂
If we only know then what we know now. Ah, but then we wouldn’t have learned the lessons that made us who we are.
Dan Erickson recently posted..has writing become worthless?
Ahh the ultimate catch 22! I’m a great believer in accepting what’s already happened.