Letter to my 18 year old self
How many times have you thought “if only I could write a letter to my 18 year old self? Oh boy would I give myself some worthy advice to follow!” Funny thing is, my 18 year old self probably wouldn’t even read the letter. But, if he did, I may be lucky enough to get the proverbial finger before he threw it in the bin. Nevertheless, I’m hoping some of these pearls of wisdom will help some of the young readers here.
Don’t quit doing fulfilling shit for frivolous reasons
I started a carpentry apprenticeship not long after highschool and I really enjoyed the work. It was just me and a master carpenter. We were building timber framed houses through Western Australia (a rarity in this part of the woods, most houses are built with thermally inefficient double brick). When we arrived on-site, there would just be a cleared block for the house. We built everything. Installed the posts, built the floor, wall and roof frames, sheeted the roof, clad the external walls and fitted out the interior. I had my life planned out in my head.
I was going to become a master carpenter, become a registered builder and start my own business and earn money on my own terms. But, I quit after 6 months and none of that ever happened. Why?
I had an unhealthy obsession with eating 6-7 times a day and working out all the time. If I couldn’t get to the gym at least 4 times a week, I’d freak out and think I was going to shrink away. And, because we would often need to spend a week or so away at a given time, that didn’t gel well with my obsession. So I quit and recommenced my search for the dream job.
Your dream job probably doesn’t exist
Do yourself a favor and go read my article Are you wasting your life at your job? Chances are buddy, that dream job you’re chasing doesn’t exist. If it does exist, you might have to fight your way through corporate politics and bullshit for 20 years to actually do it. And then, would it still be your dream job after you have gone through all the shit and wasted all that time? Do yourself a favor and create make your own dreams. Don’t think they already exist and it’s just a matter of finding them.
Please try and use your brain a little more
The average age a person’s brain fully develops is 25 years old, so I realize you’re half-idiot at this time in your life and it maybe asking a little much. But, please, please, when you have a problem, opportunity or decision to make – stop and think about it. Take the time to consider the risks and all the possible outcomes. Get into problem solving mode and brainstorm at least 10 ways possible different solutions or outcomes. Once you have completed this step, make a pros/rewards and cons/risks list of each solution or outcome. Make sure the pros/rewards and cons/risks are legitimate and non-fluffy. Then, choose the solution/outcome with the most pros/rewards and least cons/risks. Or at at least a comfortable balance between risk and reward. Hopefully this will stop you making a lot of stupid decisions over the next ten years or so (hindsight is a bitch).
Don’t let fear run your decision making
You know that obsession you have with weight training? Yeah, yeah I know you really like it. I still like it now, it’s great fun. But remember what got you started? It stemmed from being bullied as a young teenager for being a little skinny kid. Well, that all changed when you had that growth spurt, reached 6ft tall and put on 20kg (45lbs) of muscle in 2 years. But, even if you don’t know it, you still fear being that skinny kid again and it sticks with you for quite some time.
That fear will hold you back and make you miss out on great opportunities if you don’t get a hold of it. This is something you’ll learn as you grow older, but I’ll help you understand now. Fear, except for a few extenuating circumstances, is completely useless in modern society. Most fear is generated from some form of illogical perception of social rejection. The thing is, in the modern world, being different and standing out from the crowd is a brilliant foundation of leading a successful and happy life. This is because of a few reasons:
One, you are significantly more likely to be true to your actual self when you ignore fear. When you’re true to your actual self you’ll do things that make you happy. Like building cool shit, or saying fuck off to people’s opinions that add no value to your life. You’ll put yourself out there for everyone to see, and you’ll do stuff you really want to do. You won’t give a shit what others think.
Two, when you’re true to your actual self you won’t waste your money on consumerist crap. You won’t care what other people think of you and you’ll follow your intrinsic motivations. You won’t give a shit if you don’t have the latest iPhone, a ridiculously manicured haircut, the latest most awesome fuel guzzling SUV, the biggest house on the street, or whatever else. This means you’ll have more cash to make your own dreams a reality.
University is an expensive way to increase your knowledge
Don’t take a decision to go to university lightly. Weight up the pros and cons. It’s expensive and should serve a practical purpose, like obtaining a high income job to reach financial independence quicker. Please don’t spend a tonne of money on university degrees if you’re not serious about working in the fields you’re studying.
If you need to do some soul-searching, and want to obtain a well rounded knowledge on stuff, head down to your local library. You can read as much as you want to on psychology, economics, philosophy, criminology, business theory, management theory, biology, neuroscience and whatever else interests you for a few dollars in late fees. And, if you’re anything like Mrs No Pants – you’ll get a buzz of excitement every time you’ve borrowed a new book (you won’t unfortunately).
You’re young and full of energy
Make sure you get out there and have some fun along the way. There is plenty of time to be Mr Serious (why are you wearing pants) Man. Smile, laugh and say hello to a stranger every now and then.
Make some Money!
Compounding interest is a wonderful thing, but it takes time for that snowball to start getting some size. Don’t spend 7.5 years at university getting two degrees (refer to advice on university above), get out there and start making some real money as soon as you can. Don’t waste your youth looking for perfection, you can fine tune it later. Just get out there and start making some real money! Your future self will thank you for the awesome head start you have provided them.
Listen to your Gut
Remember those multiple choice tests at school/university? Remember how annoyedyou were when you changed your first answer, only to find out it was correct? That first answer came from your gut, your intuition. Intuition is good. Listen to it more often. Your actual self will speak to you through it. And, the more you listen and act upon your intuition, the louder the voice will grow and the easier it will be become to pursue what you truly what to.
Just remember to occasionally back up your intuition with solid research, especially for the massive life decisions. Weight up those pros and cons.
To much of a good thing is a bad thing
Don’t drink too much alcohol in one sitting. Enough said.
Ask for your parents advice and listen to it (but you don’t have to follow it)
Your parents were young once too. Chances are they have experienced similar shit to what you are going through right now. Don’t be afraid to ask for their advice on issues where you might appreciate another opinion. Remember, they are only human too and not mind readers. They probably won’t want to volunteer advise easily because your a hormonal narky teenager that would generally just yell at them and tell them to mind their own business. So, be kind. Ask and listen. It doesn’t mean you have to follow their advice, but take it into consideration when you stop and think about that problem you have to solve.
No Pants Money Man