What advice would you offer if you could talk to a younger you?
I just decided to go to my high school reunion, the first one I’ve been to in twenty years.
Almost immediately, a dusty collection of memories started popping into my mind, and soon I started thinking about all the things I will be returning to …
To a place–my home town.
I only lived there for six years, but Mom stayed for thirty more. Dad is still there, and I’ll be visiting his gravesite when I first get into town. Even though I lived in other places before high school and many after, Columbus is still “where I am from.”
To a group of people–old friends.
Those were fun times. Hanging out, laughing, and goofing around with high school friends form some of my most vibrant memories. The things that were funny then are somehow still funny now, at least to us, even though the stories have been told and retold dozens of times.
To a special time–the teenage years.
It was a time of “firsts” including the exhilarating independence of driving, the nervous excitement of dating, and the sober realization that my choices and decisions actually mattered.
And it was a time of transition, wandering somewhat randomly toward adulthood, preparing to go out on my own, and not really being sure just what all that entailed.
Then and Now
After a while, it hit me that for my renuion I would also be returning for something else, to visit with one particular person most of all–a younger “me.”
In those years, I was trying to find myself, but wasn’t even aware that this search-for-self was going on. Maybe it’s that way for all teenagers. But character traits were practiced and seeds of future habits planted as a by-product of short-term decisions rather than with any type of plan in mind. I wish I knew then what I know now, but don’t we all?
Later, I would learn that high school is just one of many periods of change in our lives: college, the first real job, building a career, getting married, having children, and then watching our kids go through the high school years themselves.
In retrospect, at least for me, the most important life lessons were not learned in high school. They came much later, and (did I say this before?) I wish I knew then what I know now.
Advice to a Younger Me
Which led to an interesting question: If I could talk to the “high school me,” what should I say? I decided that some of the things I’d like to say would be:
- Live in the moment, take more chances, and enjoy the fun of those years without worrying about needing all the answers.
- Recognize that being cool or popular is not that important in the long run. Be who you are, search for your passion, and learn to be comfortable in your own skin.
- Pay more attention to your character choices and the habits you are establishing. Understand that those set the foundation for who you will be down the road.
- Follow a path of faith and accept that God is in control of your life. Don’t try to go it alone, as God has a plan for you that is far better than what you can do on your own.
I’m not sure if the high school version of Steve would have listened or not, but that would have been my advice for a younger me.
Come to think of it, that’s also pretty good advice for the present-day me.
What about for you?
Question: What advice would you have for a younger you?
Action: Think of advice the you from twenty years from now would have for the present-day you.