Dear Younger Self,
In about two decades’ you will become aware of a new market; the self-help industry. Countless individuals will provide you with advice on how to navigate through arduous times, find your soul’s purpose, and framework(s) to live your best life.
But what you will soon realize is these authors never had you in mind as their audience. Their work was never for the kid who will have to deal with a family tragedy in his young 20’s, an individual who will tackle life threatening health issues right after college, or someone who’s brunches contained more samosas than mimosas.
Also, all these well-intentioned self-help gurus fail to realize that the mistakes they made are what shaped their mind, redirected their life’s journey for the better, and gave them the expertise to provide the advice they bestow to their readers. Further, there is no, nor will there ever be, a set process or quick fix for clearing your mind, enhancing your creative thought process, or becoming happy.
So, I won’t flood you with a sea of advice that may need to be amended or deemed irrelevant given the circumstance. All I can do is help you try to be at peace with the mistakes you will inevitably make, suggest a few spiritual investments, and a provide you with a loose template on how to utilize advice.
Someone once said happiness is expectations minus reality. And you sir will have a lot of expectations. There will be desires for people and some situations to end up a certain way, and you will be disappointed several times. But that is okay. Because with lofty expectations and goals, comes endless amounts of defeat and disappointment.
You will commit a variety of errors — such as throwing parties in college the day before big interviews, not knowing when to shut up or speak up at work, or making sacrifices for people who never had any intention of appreciating your philanthropy. When these things happen, take a step a back, and look at life as a marathon and not a sprint.
Don’t let jealousy or anger get the best of you, because these emotions are an everlasting scar on the soul and a cancer to the mind. Have faith in yourself that you will quickly re-calibrate and find the necessary framework to excel in the work force, befriend those who appreciate your altruism, and develop mechanisms to find peace with your past.
From the 6th grade on you will have some peculiar interest in financial services, but realize that the best investment, regardless of market conditions, is the ones you make in developing your social ecosystem. And don’t let other people tell you friendships aren’t an investment.
The idea that strong connections with others are simply organic constructions is a farce. You’ll find the strongest and most genuine bonds are formed over copious amounts of mind altering liquids, countless moments of vulnerability, and shared experiences of joy.
The only specific glimpse into the future I’ll provide you today is that on February 15th, 2017 a wonderful friend will lend you a book titled, “On Friendship” by Professor Nehamus. This sociology nerd will argue that you can’t define or understand what makes someone a true friend. You’ll realize he’s wrong, because you can. Find people who add value to your life and who’s values align with yours, and you’ll be fine.
The only other consistent investment you should make is in expanding your mind. The world is unfair, but intellectual capital will be your David to society’s Goliath. Learn by reading, writing, and traveling. However, don’t spend too much time reading about writing and writing about traveling. But remember, in your quest for knowledge, know the difference between the certainty that there is a truth and the certainty that you know that truth.
Finally, what’s the best way to utilize advice? That is a question I may never has an answer for. You may be distraught because I promised a guide for guidance. I don’t. Sometimes well-meaning individuals who genuinely have your back will promise you things and will unfortunately be unable to deliver. Secondly, most of the time in life, you really will have no set template for the future and things will turn out great.
You will grow up in a state where no resident ever had your name until you came along on October 4th, 1986. In your youth, you will wear sandals with socks, rock old man khaki pants, develop an odd fascination with circle shaped desserts, and still date plenty of white girls.
Though you will alter your attire preferences for the better, keep the spirit of the zero-fucks teenager who had no reservations rocking flip-flops with socks. Yes, there will be instances like your foray into reading self-help literature items, viewing Hollywood flicks, and that time where you were docked a full letter grade because you didn’t know the names of all of Santa’s reindeers (fuck you Dasher) where you feel out of place in Western society.
But keep being you. I promise you, no matter how socially obtuse you feel as a young beige boy, you will find a group of people who appreciate your presence and perspective. The universe eventually rewards authenticity, courage, and kindness.
Finally, don’t get too caught up on an idea, set of beliefs, or public policy positions, because the world is always changing. Be ready to be humbled and to adapt when things change.
Who knows, maybe someday, when your knees are shot and you are fully gray, President Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will announce an American made it safely to Mars. You’ll seek out a quiet Sunday brunch spot where you can ponder this historic event, only for your moment of observation to be ruined by a bunch of incorrigible millennials screaming and over indulging over some chai and samosas.
You’ll take a deep breath and reflect on how far we’ve come from the days of obnoxious melanin-deprived young adults, in colored shorts, spending their weekends drinking mimosas.