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25 Things I Would Tell My 20 Year Old Self

by Wayne

Perhaps a little rough around the edges, this is the ‘no frills, no fluff’ advice I would give to my 20-year-old self if I ever got the chance to travel back in time.

  1. Life is significantly easier when you’re honest with yourself and others.  This doesn’t mean you should be rude and inconsiderate, but it’s better to be upfront when you have to rather than concealing things and letting them fester.
  2. Stand up for yourself.  Some people will do anything for their own personal gain at the expense of others – cut in line, take money/property, bully/belittle, pass guilt, etc.  Do not accept this behavior.  Most of these people know they’re doing the wrong thing and will back down surprisingly quickly when confronted.  In a public setting people tend to keep quiet until one person speaks up, so SPEAK UP.  Read In Sheep’s Clothing.
  3. Drama is never worth putting up with.  If someone over age eighteen can’t be a reasonable, reliable adult on a regular basis, avoid this person.
  4. The biggest disappointments in life are the result of misplaced expectations.  Tempering unrealistic expectations of how something ‘should be’ will greatly reduce unnecessary frustration.
  5. If you can make a reasonable living doing what you love, DO WHAT YOU LOVE.  You may not get rich, but you’ll get to do what you love, and that’s priceless.  Of course, be smart, take the necessary steps, and ease into it.  Don’t quit your day job until doing what you love pays the bills.  In the same regard, don’t incur large debts getting a law degree or an MBA if you really want to be a graphic designer.  Read Quitter.
  6. In most corporate professions, there is no greater differentiating factor in income than a college degree.  I agree that it shouldn’t always be this way, but that is the unfortunate reality.  So if you’re planning to work in a corporate atmosphere – regardless of your profession – get your degree.  It’s never too late to start.  Just attending school looks good on your resume; and many companies offer tuition assistance, so it doesn’t have to be that expensive.
  7. Understand that at twenty years of age you are at your most energetic and most creative, but your labor is valued very little.  All the more reason to #1) stand up for yourself and look for the highest bidder and #2) get that degree.
  8. Buy fewer things.  When you feel the need to splurge, buy knowledge and EXPERIENCES instead.
  9. Little things that you want but don’t necessarily need cost money, and they add up.  This is why so many people in my age bracket don’t seem to have a cent to their name: that $90 a month iPhone plan (or whatever it costs), that cable TV, that 65 inch LCD TV, a new car every three years, etc.  Don’t get carried away.  Maintain a simple budget and do some basic accounting each month.  Read I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
  10. Set up a safety fund.  Yes, I know the savings account interest rates are insanely low right now, but having at least six months of expenses in readily accessible cash can save you a lot of hassle on a rainy day.
  11. Loan money to friends and family judiciously.  Nuff said.
  12. Your credit score will come in handy some day.  Don’t be careless with it.
  13. Everything in moderation.  Don’t be a slave to any substance, especially food.
  14. Avoid fatty, sugary foods.  Eat your vegetables.  Stick to a healthy balanced diet.
  15. Start exercising yesterday.
  16. Staying in shape is simpler than most people make it.  Body fat is dictated by what you eat and your activity.  Working out affects two things mainly: fat and muscle.  Aerobic exercise burns fat and builds a little muscle.  Weight training builds muscle and burns a little fat.  In most cases, if you’re overweight you’re eating too much and/or not exercising enough.  Period.
  17. Don’t merely exist… LIVE.  Experience as much as you can.  Do not fall into an endless routine.  Do not become overly comfortable with TV and YouTube as your primary sources of entertainment.  Go places.  Do things.  Try new things.  Follow your curiosities and passions.  Take chances.  Carpe diem.  No one ever achieved anything great through laziness.  Don’t let fear and complacency stop you from a truly rewarding life.  Read The 4-Hour Workweek.
  18. Always do what you feel in your heart is right.
  19. Love is a choice; it’s not magic.  There is no such thing as ‘the one.  You are not destined for any relationship other than the one you help create.  Spend enough time with another loving person, and biology eventually kicks in.  So use your head and find someone you really enjoy spending time with, who you don’t feel pressured to impress – someone who makes you feel loved, relaxed, and comfortable in your own skin.
  20. Read more.  And not just blogs.
  21. Invest time and energy in yourself every day.  When you invest in yourself, you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your life.  You are simply the product of what you know.  The more time and energy you spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control you have over your life.
  22. Learn some basic, modern survivability skills – how to change a tire, jumpstart a car, safely bust a car window if you’re stuck, render first aid, etc.
  23. Help your fellow neighbor.  The whole “what goes around comes around” concept is the truth.  You may be on top of the world right now – feeling untouchable.  You may have all the tools at your disposal to do and say whatever you want.  But life is a circle that eventually comes back around.  So be polite, be courteous, and at least dream that civilization can be civil.  Either way, it starts with you; because a society is the sum of its parts.
  24. You actually die twice in this world.  Once when you stop breathing, and a second time several years later when somebody says your name for the last time.  So do things that matter; leave a legacy.  Time is running out.
  25. Try to picture us older folks as the twenty-somethings we used to be.  Talk to us.  We’re still pretty cool, we’ve just learned a thing or two over the years – things you will likely find interesting.

Photo by: Kevin Dooley

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