So, I asked last week what you would tell twenty-year-old you, and got a few answers, here and from other sources. I am happy to report that most people didn’t come back with huge regrets, and most of the responses were along the lines of “keep on keeping on.”
My knee jerk reaction is to tell that young man not to do so many stupid things he was already doing, and more to come. Two hits of triple dip (yeah, six hits of acid) was a really stupid idea. Riding on the luggage rack? Fun at the time and makes for a great story, but could just as easily have ended in Mom bailing me out of jail, or worse, identifying my not so pretty corpse. But young and stupid go hand in hand all too often.
Don’t get a dog; your landlord is going to evict you. Don’t give in to your passions; they will lead to heartache. Don’t steal, cheat, lie; you will have to answer for it someday, either to the (often unwitting) victims or at least to yourself and your God. On the other hand, I’m tempted to tell him to follow his bliss, for he will make many of his best decisions on the spur of the moment.
Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t give up the clarinet in eighth grade over a less than encouraging teacher. Don’t stop writing in college over the fear of opening yourself like that to the class. (They’re just as scared, probably.) Don’t not move on simply because change is more difficult than uncomfortable conformity.
This is my first answer to the question, and although so many told me that they wouldn’t change a thing (and I do believe them), we are still fond of the phrase “If I only knew then what I know now.”
Consider this question as an addendum: “Would you have listened?” If future you had come to you in your youth, could it possibly have made any difference?
Wait. Somebody did tell me all those things. My parents, teachers, older brother, books, movies, music. I had that wisdom, but chose not to use it.
(There is a happy ending. I’m still alive, I’m writing, I’m a more honest person these days, illicit drug use is a distant memory, I’ve lived in the same place for seven years now. And I’m happy most days, for most of the day.)
So here’s my follow up question: “Will they listen to you?” Many of you are parents, and if you’re not, you’re aunts, uncles, big brothers/sisters. It’s difficult not having some influence on the generations that follow us.
How will you make them listen? Can you?