What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?
Today I’ve got a question for you.
If you could go back in time and give advice to your 20 year old self, what would you say?
What would you tell them in the hopes that you could somehow live differently?
Would you say something simple like, “Stay in school and get a better degree”?
Or maybe you’d tell yourself to “Give more effort at the office so you can rise through the ranks faster.”
You probably wouldn’t look back and say, “You should play it safer… Don’t take too many risks,” would you?
It’s pretty rare to find someone who wishes they’d taken fewer risks. For most of us, it’s the exact opposite. As we advance in years, we look back and think, “I wish I could tell kid me to push a lot harder and really go for it…”
Hindsight is 20-20, right?
As for me, I used to think about what advice I’d give my past self a lot. I really stewed on this question.
After all, if I’d had the perfect advice, maybe I could have avoided the painful years, the time lost to addiction, the spoiled relationships.
And maybe – knowing full well that I can’t travel to my past, no matter how perfectly I could advise myself – if I had a really great answer to this question, I could use that answer to help others.
After all, I know I’ve got younger people in my life and in my audience. If I could craft the perfect advice, I could share it and save people a lot of pain, right?
With all this in mind, it was really hard to come up with the right answer to this question.
At first, I thought I’d tell myself to really get in touch with my own true feelings and desires so I could avoid addictions.
I’d say, “Get into meditation or a physical practice – you can avoid so much pain and trouble that way.”
I’d instruct myself to get clarity on what kind of impact I should make in the world and how I could use that impact to help others.
I’d also say, “Spend time becoming more self-aware. Forgive yourself more.”
I thought if I could pass all of this on to 20 year old me, I would have avoided my struggles with addiction. I would have been more connected with friends and family instead of isolating myself all the time. I could have been more aware of the needs of others instead of acting in the name of greed and self-promotion.
Now that I’m looking back with the wisdom of age, though…
My advice to my 20 year old self is a lot different.
After sitting and stewing on this for awhile, I realized…
I Wouldn’t Change a Thing
See, if I’d made changes way back then and skipped out on a lot of the suffering and pain I went through, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I needed to go through the pain, the isolation, the addiction. I needed to go through all of it to be the person I am today.
So if I did somehow have a time machine, I would tell 20 year old Brian to go all in. I’d tell him to make mistakes, stumble, and get to the edge where he’d barely survive because that’s how growth happens.
Growth does NOT occur on the happy, sunny days where everything goes well. Growth only happens in the dark times when it’s hard and it sucks and your only choice is to fight or die.
If I hadn’t gone through all of that, I wouldn’t be able to share with you. My words wouldn’t have as big of an impact.
Now that I know all of this, I can offer proper advice to all the 20 year olds – and even those older than 20 – who aren’t living their lives to the fullest.
Quite simply, you’ve got to pull the trigger.
Life is about taking advantage of the opportunities in front of you, and that will never happen if you don’t take chances and pull that trigger.
No matter what your goal is – you know, the one in the back of your mind that you keep pushing down – you’ve got to take chances to make it happen.
Maybe it’s travel. Maybe it’s a new career, or more schooling, or a business of your own. Whatever it is, you’ll never have it if you don’t make the leap every now and then.
In addition to taking personal risks, take a stand for what you believe in. Stop worrying so much about offending other people.
Listen, you’re allowed to have a position and you’re allowed to defend that position. You know all the world greats? Everyone who ever made a difference? Those people had the guts to know their position and they weren’t afraid to tell other people they were wrong.
Go your own way and don’t worry about what other people will say. Your parents, your friends, your contemporaries – they’ll all have something to say about whatever it is you’re doing, but who cares? They’re not living your life – you are.
Ignore anyone who wants you to play small and don’t look back because you’re not going that way.
Oh, and one more thing? While you’re out there doing your own thing, remember to make a contribution back to the world. Helping other people is while we’re here on this Earth, and when you help others, you help yourself, too.
That’s all. These rules sound simple on paper, but they can be intimidating to follow when it comes down to it.
If you want that full, rich life, though, you can’t let intimidation get in the way.
Go get some. Pull the trigger. Take a stand.
I don’t care if you’re 20 or 80. When you take chances, your life will be better for it every time.
Editor, Brian Rose Uncensored