A Letter to a Younger Self
Dear Younger Self:
Compared to you, I’m an old man. I’m knocking on the door of senior citizenship and looking forward to getting my first Old Age Security cheque. Woo Hoo!
At your age you’ll find that thought crazy. But when you finally reach the magic number, it’s not such a bad thing. It’s a rite of passage. You now qualify for all those senior discounts! Also, it means you’ve survived for 65 years. But trust me, they aren’t all going to be easy.
You have an interesting road ahead. It’s not without its potholes, detours, and washed out bridges but it’s an interesting road nonetheless. You don’t have to take the advice I’m giving you (heaven knows I didn’t take some of my own advice or anyone else’s for that matter when I was your age) but maybe my thoughts will make some sense. So here I go.
- Listen to your inner self. You’ve been told you are an “old soul” and have great intuition. Use it! You will have a tendency to listen to the voices that speak loudest. Sometimes it’s the voice that speaks the softest you should listen to. If you sit and say “OK inner voice, what am I supposed to do?”, you won’t get an answer. Your loud conscious voice will start to monopolize the conversation. Your inner voice will speak to you when you are ready to receive its message. Don’t ignore it. You don’t have to take its advice, but you should at least pay it heed.
- Phone home. Pick up the phone and talk to Mom and Dad more often. Yes, long distance costs money, but you don’t have to talk to them for long. Just say hello, see how they’re doing, and save some money for another short call. They’ll appreciate it more than you know. I know calling home can be a crap shoot especially on the weekend. You don’t know whether Dad and/or Mom are hitting the sauce. If they are, you can always call later. Regardless, you know you love them and they love you. They won’t be with you forever and you have no idea how much you’ll miss them when they’re gone. There is a feeling of sadness when you want one family question answered and there’s no one to answer it. Even today, I still have a strange urge to pick up the phone and call. However, getting their current number would be a challenge!
- Worry less. Yeah right! Like that’s going to happen. You’ve always been a worrier and always will be, but try and reduce the anxiety as much as you can. Things always seem to work out in the end. Not necessarily the way you want but you may have worried for nothing. I’m not suggesting you take a “what will be will be” attitude. That’s not in your make up. However, not everything needs to have as much gravitas as you have a tendency to put on it. In the words of George Carlin, “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.”
- Don’ be afraid to travel but save more. Yes, you can save all your money for your retirement but what happens when you get older and you aren’t able to travel due to injury or illness? In your future travels, you’ll see lots of people who waited until their senior years to explore the world. You’ll ask yourself why they waited so long. You’ll hear of people who never had a chance to travel because they died with the money in the bank they were saving for retirement travel. Regardless, I think you can find a better balance between travel and saving than I did.
- Learn to say “no” more often. Saying “Yes” is the easiest thing in the world. Saying “No” is much more difficult. You will often feel you have no choice but to say yes. This isn’t true. You have just as many chances to say no. The world won’t stop just because you did. It may cause issues from time to time, but mostly it will have no effect whatsoever and you will feel better for saying it. Remember though, being a “no” man is every bit as bad as being a “yes” man. Try and find the right balance.
- Never lose your empathy for others. Don’t be afraid to ask someone how they’re doing if you sense they may be having a bad day. Offer your shoulder if they need one to cry on and your arms if they need someone to hold them. Be ready to listen before you talk. Remind yourself you don’t have all the answers. Sometimes people don’t want you to solve their problems, they just want someone to listen to them.
Well young man, I think that’s all I have for you today. Maybe someday I’ll drop you another note and give you some more of my sage advice.
All the best in the future.
The Future You
Yes, that is you. The cute babe in arms. 🙂