Letter to your younger self

Go ahead, ask a man with a loaded machine gun to take a picture with you.
Go ahead, ask a man with a loaded machine gun to take a picture with you.

If you could go back and talk to your younger self, what would you say?

In case you are wondering, I don’t regularly talk to myself out loud. I don’t say affirmations in front of the mirror. I am not on medications, but I think that medications can be helpful. Just like glasses, hearing aids and shoes.

Interestingly, the research shows that we talk to ourselves. We do it internally, silently. And we are listening.

If talking to your younger self seems weird, you could just have kids. I recommend having at least two, that way you have better odds that at least one of them will listen to you. Wait until they are old enough to listen to your advice, then lay it on them. Keep in mind that children have a mind of their own, and like most of us, they don’t listen well to advice. They take the good stuff and forget most of it, just like students. How often do you ask your kids to do three things and they only do the last thing… actually that’s me. I have to write down what my wife asks me to do. Just can’t remember it all. My head is too full of questions, crazy stories and dust bunnies. Who named it a dust bunny anyways? I don’t see any rabbits in those dusty little wispy things between the books.

I admit, I ramble sometimes. I will get to the point now.

I thought about this the other day, “If I could go back and talk to the 24 year old Sean, what would I say to myself?”

So I wrote this letter to the 24 year old me. I think this is important because it helped me to take stock of lessons I have learned. I felt happy that I have been through a lot of stuff and I have some things to share. If something makes me happy, then I like to talk about it. In a way, this is like a self-gratitude letter. Interestingly, letters like this make us focus on our strengths. And that is a very good thing.

At 24, I was unmarried, had no children, I was at the beginning of my career, I was renting, I had no girlfriend. But I had my hair. Still do, although it is turning into a snowy grey color. This list is not really a complete, categorized or finished list. It could be better. This is my first draft… first drafts can be shitty, but they also contain some truth. You get to decide which of these points are true and which are mental dust bunnies?

  • Make room for your art and for the artist that you are
  • Forgive easily
  • Fail small and often. And learn from your mistakes. But don’t take any of it personally
  • See failure and rejection as a gift. Learn from it
  • Ask for help
  • Know yourself, your strengths
  • Accept more, fix less
  • Travel
  • Laugh more
  • Be quiet often enough to hear yourself think. Listen to your own voice
  • Then take a risk and speak up
  • Guard your heart above all else: your faith, your hope
  • Consider your strengths first thing in the day
  • People are more than the sum of their past/present behaviors, their motivations and dreams, their pain and experiences
  • Expect to be surprised
  • You are greater than your greatest hits. The best is ahead
  • Study yourself. When are you at your best? What time of day? With what kind of people? Doing what kind of projects? With what kind of roles?
  • Never surrender your need to dream. Go ahead and daydream at work. What better place to envision a better future?
  • You will accomplish greater things than your parents because you stand on their shoulders. Be grateful
  • Walk in grave yards
  • Always be creating in the way that fits you. If it’s wood, paint, pen, pencil, steel, dirt, flour or design… Always create. And go ahead, make a mess
  • Take your time reading. The fact that there is more and more to read does not erase the need for slow reading. And don’t waste time on bad TV
  • Ask questions. Life rewards questions

So today, why not write your own letter? Share it or send it to me at smswaby@icloud.com or post it at www.facebook.com/seanmswaby, I’d love to read what you have to say. What you have to say is important because no one else can say it like you do.

Life is more fun when more than one person takes a risk.

Keep it real.

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