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What Would I Tell My Younger Self…?

If I Could Offer My Troubled Teenage-Self a Little Grown-Up Hindsight...

“Hindsight is always 20/20.” ~ Billy Wilder. (Writer, Producer, Director.) 

Mistakes are important – if you choose to be self-aware enough, remove all ego and pride to take those moments to reflect – they are often proof that you tried something new and it didn’t pay off, for better or for worse. 

Regrets are healthy, they show a lesson learnt, an active conscience, a modest personality kept in check and a measure of wisdom. Throughout my life I  have met those who say that they have no regrets, implying that they stand by their choices or choose not to confront something that may had been a wrong path or decision.

Though I see where they’re coming from, but that’s not necessarily the same as bearing a regret or a mistake like a burden, more so a simple notion of acknowledging where something went wrong and jotting a mental note of it before moving on with life, ready to employ a fresh method with the newly acquired lesson. 

But would I say this to my younger self? Knowing what I know now? Understanding how a few simple manoeuvres would make a world of difference but – like in the legendary Back to the Future movies – would ultimately create alternating choices that could potentially knock me off my current path today? Would I have become a different person? Not meet my partner or closest friends? Be in the position that I’m in today?Where I express daily gratitude for the little details that come with it – as broad as that may sound. 

So rather than travelling back in time to speak to my younger self, only to provide winning Lottery numbers or any other cheating thought like that, I’ll think back to the more turbulent times to provide some advice that would help with perseverance, pivoting and preservation. 

EVERYONE IS A LITTLE BIT F*CKED UP

 “It’s not just you, kiddo,” I would tell my teenage-self. 

Those high school years with the bullies, the pressures to succeed and impress; whether that’s pleasing the parents or passing exams at school, trying to impress other kids by ‘conforming’ to whatever flash-in-the-pan trend is fleetingly passing by. 

“Everyone is a little bit f*cked up!” 

The older you get, the more you start to notice it – how everyone you meet and everyone around you has some little messed up side to themselves (anyone who disagrees with this has a serious case of self-denial!) and no matter how hard they try to hide it, whatever problem or issue they’re dealing with, those gremlins shall find their way to the surface, it could be excessively obvious or subtle, either way, your intuition will detect it. 

But there’s nothing wrong that! 

What’s important is having the capacity to embrace that craziness you have, come to terms with it, understand it and learn how to control it because despite its ugliness and ability to ruin your life and your mindset, it has its uses – creatively or otherwise – our messed up selves can develop the skill to channel something to our advantage. 

So let your freak flag fly, don’t take yourself too seriously, be understanding and empathetic to others and remind yourself every once in a while – to coin a corny line here – it’s okay to not be okay. 

Don’t be like the poor souls who choose to bury their pain and anguish, trying with all their energies and efforts to wear a mask and conceal that side that we all have, pretending that it isn’t happening. Like any other illness or ailment, left untreated and chosen to be ignored can only lead to further problems and a larger issue to deal with in the future. 

Let the band wagon roll on by, because there are plenty more coming along and they don’t go anywhere most of the time; listen to your common sense, because I know it has been crying out whenever you try to ‘fit in’ that it is not who you are as a person and ‘selling out’ just to be accepted is simply not worth the trouble you’re about to go to. 

SOMEONE’S HATE COMES FROM PAIN

Branching off from the ‘everyone is a little bit f*cked up’ segment – this reaches into the wild bouts of anger that you’ve faced from many people, particularly those closest to you.

It can be upsetting, frightening and painful when anger is being directed at you from someone who is a family member of a close friend. Whilst this does not at all excuse poor behaviour and any essence of unnecessary verbal and psychological abuse, it does help to understand that it stems from something deeper than the present moment. that it comes from some deep-seeded source of pain that was planted there years ago.

This pain of theirs is where it is because – like mentioned before – it has been pushed down deep inside themselves instead of confronting it, coming to terms with it, letting go or acknowledging that it exists. They know that it’s there, but the anger is a symptom of their denial or lack of awareness to express it in a healthy manner. 

So whilst your lizard brain will always take you to the ‘fight or flight’ mode when you are confronted by anger and hostility from another person, where it may be tempting to fire back, flee or take every word to heart like knives to the chest, left to bleed to death afterwards, keep this thought at the forefront of your mind: ‘This is coming from deep-seeded pain.’ 

Of course, heed the genesis of what started the tantrum because you may have taken a step wrong but no wrongdoing is worth the hatred that you have come face-to-face with from others over the years. 

The same goes for the hateful online that you will one day see in droves day-after-day when the Internet fully gains a monopoly on our lives – you have so much of that to look forward to! 

BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR GODDAMN MONEY!

Oh, how I wish I had this lesson when I was younger. I am literally paying for past mistakes with mismanaged finances to this very day – I know for a fact that if I had taken more careful steps, the brunt of what I had to endure would have been less painful. 

Money may not be the be-all and end-all – that’s a toxic and destructive mindset to hold onto – but that doesn’t give you license to toss it away like confetti on nothingness. 

Take a pinch of every pay check and squirrel it away into a savings account and let the interest do the rest – the tiniest contributions would have gone a long way if you had done this from the start. 

Granted, you may face some immensely difficult times – you’re going to walk out of your family home and go at it alone with zero support; everything you earn will be on your own merits and hard work. But this is where the backlog of safety funds would have saved you the trouble of resorting to debt in order to keep yourself fed and housed. 

Finances are boring! They will never be interesting for you but – as the world will teach you – finances take an interest in you, so be ahead of it when it tries to trip you up, because it will and always will seek to keep you dependent on its services that pursues methods to keep you in a vicious circle, which will be damn hard to break out of once you’re caught in it. 

Have fun – you’re young. But be smart! 

FOCUS 20% OF YOUR ENERGY AND RESOURCES FOR 80% RESULTS

What’s more value than your money? 

Answer: Your time! 

Learn when not to invest so much of it in those who don’t deserve it, when you hear that voice in the back of your head insisting that you are putting too much of yourself into something or someone that will not repay, reward or respect what you have committed to, then obey that voice and step down until further notice. More often than not, you will be taken advantage of or unappreciated for the lengths that you go to out of hopes that perhaps a great result will greet you at the finish line. 

Focus on the 20% – that can cover many areas: people, money, happiness, work and education etc. ‘Multi-tasking’ as a concept never existed until the development of computers and technology, whose key creation was to do what humans can’t. Therefore, don’t take on board the ridiculous idea that you can multi-task to showcase yourself as versatile and diverse, whilst those may be great traits you will soon discover that multi-tasking leads to half-baked results and huge mistakes that will demand your time and skills to remedy. In turn, you have wasted more time by multi-tasking than simply honing in on one key job at a time. 

Many successful people and enterprises have done as well as they have because they chose to lean in on the 20% and not the rest of the 80% – so instead of trying to appeal to everyone as customers, they set their sights on a niche and specific 20%, build from there and reap 80% of the profits through customer loyalty and satisfaction. 

Think on that concept and apply it to all areas of life – you can make yourself happier by focusing on the 20% of happiness you already have in your life, you can be more fulfilled spending time with 20% of the people you know than trying to spread yourself thin trying to please everyone. 

Less is more sometimes. 

THE EDUCATION SYSTEM DOESN’T DETERMINE YOUR FUTURE

The school system today is vastly outdated and needs a serious overhaul by the government, but that might not happen any time soon. I was never a good student however, I turned out fine! I was a bit of a late bloomer and was a bit slow on the uptake, yet I possessed enough sense to take on board what I wasn’t good at and found my own way to get better at whatever my weakness may had been. 

Unfortunately, the education system forces a ‘one size fits all’ approach, when it isn’t as straight forward as that, which ultimately makes many kids – such as the one I was – feel like total failures and absolute idiots. 

So I spent a lot of time wallowing in my own self-loathing when I thought that I wasn’t a smart kid, unlike the rest of my superior classmates who seemed to be flying ahead with their grades and results – no matter how hard I tried, none of what I was revising, studying or examining would ever stick. 

I don’t know if anyone reading has seen the episode of The Simpsons ‘Bart Gets an F’, but that pretty much sums up how it was for me as a kid trying to please my parents and my teachers yet not getting anywhere no matter what I did. 

Sure enough, it wasn’t me – it was ‘them’, and this isn’t a cop-out excuse but a legitimate dig at how schools make kids feel inferior because they might be a square peg who can’t fit into the round holes of the system. 

As it happens, this was something that followed me around for years, I would never fit in anywhere – I always did things differently. I knew what I was passionate about and when I took an interest in something, I had my own ways of storing it away and now I’m regarded by many of my friends and family as having an impressive memory for recalling the tiniest details on any given day. 

So, I would say to my younger-self to not allow the naysayers to get to me when they say that I’m going to grow up to be a nobody or someone who could never get a job (yep! Teachers told me that!) and that I already know what I want to do with my life; following my creativity, embracing my passions and making a living out of those skills. And that it can be done. 

Not like I really needed to hear that seeing that I have done pretty well for myself in my life – but those words would have made my more difficult days a little bit more bearable and probably would have had some much needed confidence returned to me. 

PEOPLE ARE GOING TO LET YOU DOWN

A sad fact is that a good majority of people are total liabilities, eventually you’ll be only be able to count the completely trustworthy individuals on one hand. 

The goods news is: That’s all you’ll need – up towards five close friends who you can always rely on and the rest are a bonus. 

It’s never a nice feeling to be let down by others, and it’s a powerless feeling by simply ‘hoping’ a friend or someone won’t disappoint you. Listen to your intuition, it will tell you the harsh truth, which is that this person is going to eventually to fizzle out of your life by their own means. The true test of friendship will show how much trouble they are willing to go to in order to remain a friend – those who eventually drift away rarely come back. 

Facebook and social media may help keep connections alive between one person to the next, but the ones who pick up the phone and call or drop a quick message are the ones you’ll be friends with for life. Don’t take them for granted and don’t invest your precious time and energy with those who take you for granted. 

TRAVEL MORE!

Easier said than done when you’re on a minimum wage zero hour contract, but it can be done with savvy saving and careful planning – it would have been worthwhile taking the time to backpack and work remotely from one place to the next. 

Don’t fret over that one though, you’ll make up for it later. 

LIFE IS SHORT

A harsh part of reality, is that you’re going to lose people – through sickness, accident, old age and so on. 

It’ll make you realise that no-one is safe from their own mortality and if a piano dropped on your head tomorrow, what would your final thoughts be? 

So don’t sweat the small stuff, as they say – conforming to impress friends or spending time doing things that you don’t really want to do, you’re not going to get anything out of them. 

Focus on what you love and never underestimate the power of learning and personal development. 

I COULD TALK TO YOU ALL DAY

But I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprises yet to come. 

There are plenty of ups and downs ahead, disappointments, heartbreaks, gains and losses – a lot of it is going to hurt but a lot of it isn’t going to be amazing. Whatever happens, the world isn’t going to end and life will continue – so get over your problems and get over yourself, enjoy the little things, be constantly grateful and know your worth. 

On that note, I shall depart with following quote: 

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Have fun, kiddo! 

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