A letter to my younger self

Posted by Chris on November 7th, 2007 filed in Uncategorized

First off, way to go. You kick ass. I ended up well-adjusted, healthy, and pretty darned happy. I have few complaints. But I figure there are probably some things it wouldn’t hurt you to know ahead of time.

You suspect school to be a complete waste of time. This is absolutely correct until college. Drop out of the babysitting routine, ignore the idiots and their popularity contests, and go learn things. Due to some short-sighted old people, you can’t get a GED until you’re 17 or so, but those however-many years can be so much more productive. Read a whole library. Visit somewhere. Learn a language. Learn to think for yourself in ways other than rote memorization. I can even give you specific examples. Nothing they teach you in math is useful later in life. It’s the methods they don’t teach you that lie behind everything that are useful. Get a bunch of books and go through them. If you go through high school writing classes, any college professor will laugh at what they taught you anyway. Go wild. Put up a billboard in full view of the teaching zealots that says “No study has ever shown that homework has any positive effects on learning.” That’d cause some trouble.

Get out of that small town. Small towns are where ideas and groups of people go to die. You and everyone else knew it intuitively, I’m telling you explicitly. Same for any other place where everyone is the same. You only learn from people who are different than you.

You have a great family. They’ll prove that again and again. Noone ever said “I wish I’d spent more time at work” instead of with the people they love and who love them.

Pick up an instrument. Guitar, drums, bongo, it doesn’t matter. And learn from others. Music people are weird, but weird is good.

Write things down, and keep what you’ve written. Paper, index card, post-it, electronically… It doesn’t matter. It’ll be worth it. Write down things about other people and places too.

Take pictures. Even of yourself if necessary. Write on the back what it’s about and when it was taken.

Personal finances? Money is a tool. No more, no less. Stuff is just stuff and can be replaced. Want to be rich? Spend less than you earn. Just spend enough to enjoy life too.

Don’t put up with assholes, don’t be an asshole. Preserve your good karma. It’ll pay off with things like good luck, and good parking spots.

Dress really well. Quality is worth it.

Ask people their stories. Write it down if it’s worth it. But you’ll learn something from every one either way.

Fixing your own car is fun. Teaching other people how to fix theirs is even more fun.  This applies to just about everything in life.

On that note: You don’t really own something until you’ve modified it.

Go for it.  Other people won’t care, and regret is far worse than the alternative.

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