The Advice You’d Give Your Younger Self

Young Jamey

Suspend reality for a few seconds and consider the following: If you could travel back in time and spend 10 minutes with your younger self (at any age), what would you tell him or her?

An interviewer asked me this question yesterday for this website, and I really enjoyed thinking about the answer, so I thought I’d pose the same question here. My answer for that interview was as follows:

“I’d like to have a decent conversation with him, but not reveal so much that I’d change the future and cause a paradox that would destroy the universe. So it would have to be small advice, like “don’t wait until your junior year in high school to kiss a girl for the first time” and “close your eyes during your first kiss.” So, mostly kiss-related advice.”

Yeah, I wasn’t going for anything brilliant or earth-shaking. After all, if I could give my younger self earth-shaking advice, it could significantly change the space-time continuum, preventing me from going back in time in the first place and thus causing a paradox that would end the world.

I’m trying to think if there’s anything else I should tell this kid. Heck, space-time be damned, here’s what I’d tell him (after the kiss conversation):

  • Smile in photos. All photos. Any other expression looks terrible in hindsight. You’ll wish you would have smiled
  • Always do the things you love. Sure, find ways to fit in and be socially normal, but don’t stop doing anything because it’s too geeky or dorky. Find fellow geeks and dorks who love the same things.
  • When R.P. places her beautiful mouth inches from your lips and encourages you to skip class with her to go to the river, DO IT. You will forget the class you attended instead, but you will never stop wondering how great it would have been to go to the river with her.
  • Enjoy high school soccer and track. Really enjoy it, and relish in the process of getting good at them and helping the team. It’s the only time in your life when it’ll feel like being part of a team really mattered, and that means something. Don’t make it your whole world, but enjoy it while it lasts. Oh, and don’t stretch before warming up. All of your coaches were wrong about that.
  • Take classes in college that you truly love. And learn how to code.
  • Call your grandmother once a month, every month. Don’t wait until you’re 25 to realize how special she is.
  • Find a place for faith in your life, but don’t let archaic rules and traditions dictate your limitations. Figure that out for yourself through trial and error.
  • You don’t know this yet, but you actually get along really well with cats. You’re not even allergic to them. Do with that what you will.
  • If you have doubts about the girl you’re dating, that means something. It will be better for both of you if you move on instead of dragging it out.
  • Always let your father look over the paperwork of every loan or contract before you sign it. Always. No exceptions.
  • Write a novel from start to finish by the time you turn 20. It will suck. That’s a good thing. Your next attempt will suck less. Do it again. And again.
  • Don’t wait until you’re 29 to start donating blood. You could save hundreds of lives if you start when you’re 18.
  • Buy Apple stock in 2003. Lots of it. Trust me on this one.

What would you tell your younger self?

6 thoughts on “The Advice You’d Give Your Younger Self”

  1. Great list! The first thing that came to mind for me was this. Grades are far less important than what you’re actually learning. Focus on what you can take away from a class and how you can apply it rather than how to get an A.

    • I completely agree, Trev. I think the discipline required to get good grades is a great skill to have, but in terms of content and how you apply it to life, focusing on what you can take away from a class has a much more lasting effect.

  2. I could write a small book on the subject. If I could restrain myself from beating the ever-living hell out of that dopey kid, I’d try to get him to understand the power of his own person.

  3. My gut reaction is nothing, in that I really think learning things yourself, often by trial and error, is better than advice. It sticks with you, it makes you who you are. It’s tempting to want to tell teenage Emma things but then I’d be different than how I turned out! I think even small good advice could change everything.


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