What Would You Tell a Twenty-Year Younger You?

If I were to run into the twenty-year younger me in a Starbucks on my way to work (because there is something poetically ironic about this coincidence happening while racing to work) and I had only ten minutes to share what would ostensibly be guideposts for this treacherous and exciting journey called life, I would let my overheated coffee cool and tell him this:

  1. Be bold: you'll be surprised how many people let timidity hold them back.
  2. There will be a massive gap between those willing to try and those willing to watch others try. Don't let the watchers keep you from trying.
  3. You're going to screw up, a lot. Don't let it keep you from screwing up again. (You heard me).
  4. Don't let fear of what others think get in the way of doing what you want to do.
  5. Don't let fear of what others think get in the way of doing what you want to do.
  6. Don't let fear of what others think get in the way of doing what you want to do.
  7. You can't always do what you want but you can enjoy what you do. Your work will be as fulfilling as you make it. Find fulfillment wherever you land.
  8. Life is a gift. Don't piss it away. Live while you're living.
  9. You won't ever like classical music.
  10. Keep reading poetry. Let the cool kids make fun of you.
  11. I know you hate bumper sticker wisdom but mean people really do suck. Try not to be mean. To anyone. Ever. It will be hard. But you need to try.
  12. Stick to discussing ideas, not people.
  13. Network more. You'll never regret shaking more hands.
  14. Seek out people wiser and older than you but remember to close your mouth and open your ears.
  15. You will hate Las Vegas. You will love Chicago.
  16. Nerds will rule the earth. Get in touch with your inner nerd. Now.
  17. I won't lie to you: you are going to experience excruciating pain. It will change you. Just don't let it destroy you.
  18. You will experience overwhelming joy. It will come when you least expect it.
  19. The boring parts of life are best.
  20. Spend less time consuming. Spend more time creating.
  21. You enjoy speaking, writing, creating: do more of that early on. Don't wait until you're forty.
  22. I know you like to work and create and do. Your family will be your life's most important work. Work more on that.
  23. This will surprise you because I know how you love hangin' with your buds: your wife will become your best friend. Trust me.
  24. Your children will delight and amaze you. Remember that when they sometimes don't.
  25. Speaking of: if your son, whom you will love and will think is very cool, wants to have a house concert with a few of his closest friends, don't let him.
  26. I'm only here at Starbucks because it's close to the office. Their coffee is pressed lava and tastes like ash. In twenty years, for our next doppelganger appointment, meet me at McDonalds. It's where the old people hang because they are smarter than us: the coffee's better, cheaper and they have free WiFi. Oh, and, if I'm still on WiFi and you're on something much faster, hook a brother up. But be patient. I'm sixty.

What would you say to the twenty-year younger you?

(This is a cross-posted article, originally published on my original blog, Branded Matters. The idea for this post is not originally mine, this meme is making its way around the interwebz, I just can't recall who to give credit to for the idea).