It took me a long time to write this, mostly because I didn’t know what to say. I know that I wanted to write something, but somehow trying to encapsulate 30 years of life seemed daunting and impossible. I took a suggestion and modified it a little; what would my 20 year old self think if I could talk to him right now—
First off, I apologize, my 20 year old self was an asshole. And asshole is a kind word to describe him. If I told him about my life right now, he’d smile and nod, but deep down inside he’d think that I was a failure. In a way he’s right, I’m really not where I expected to be professionally, personally, or romantically. He’d make passable eye contact with me, and then in a very condescending tone tell me to either leave, or that I’m lying. Like I said, 20 year old me is kind of an asshole.
But I know me and after getting past the incredulity of breaking the space-time continuum and my youthful shield of sarcasm, I’d get past the roiling ball of insecurities that was me at 20. And then, I’d let him into the details of my life, and the stories I had to tell.
I’d tell him about the adventures that were had staying up way past any godly hour. I’d tell him about the friends that I’ve made and the trouble that we’ve gotten into. I’d tell him about experiences that I couldn’t even imagine when I was twenty. I’d tell him about the heartbreaks. Then, I’d tell him about her. I’d tell him about my greatest triumphs, and every failure along the way, big or small, because he needs to know that his ridiculous fear of looking bad in front others held him back for way too long. I’d tell him about the incredible things that he’ll do for other people when he didn’t even have the strength sometimes to stand up. And I’ll also tell him about the times when I stood idle while terrible things happened in plain sight. In short, I’ll tell him what it’s like to be a man. An imperfect man at best, but always striving to be better. There would be a lot of laughter, some stunned silences, and a good amount of crying.
20 year old me would beg me for details and dates, so he could fix my mistakes, so he could live without regret. I suppose I could say that I could tell my younger self that I’ve had no regrets, but that’d be a lie. Every person has regrets, and in three decades you accumulate quite a few. But I wouldn’t tell him a damn thing because he’s not ready yet. I’d look my younger self in the eyes, 10 years younger (and about 15 pounds lighter) and tell him that knowing isn’t the same as understanding. That he’s not who he needs to be yet in order to have a chance at a fulfilling life, that he has to experience all of that in order to know who he is, and push past all of that insecurity that had plagued him for so long.
The 20 year old would be angry at me because well, we’re pretty deterministic. Why not have a life closer to what I imagined when I was 20, instead of what I have now? Because sometimes the straight path isn’t the right path. The straight path definitely isn’t the easy path, but you can only see what you want, not what you need. He’d start badgering me, and then I’d tell him to forget everything, which would definitely happen because my memory is hazy when I get emotional. But before I’d get up to leave, my younger self would ask me for advice.
The only lesson that I would pass on would be just about one thing: Fill your life full of love. Love fiercely, love with courage, and accept love in return. I know that what I just said has to be the biggest cliche ever, and should be ever self-evident, but it’s the only piece in the grand scheme of life that I have figured out. I’ve tried a lot of things and I’ve tried a lot of approaches, but all of it is just a temporary salve if you don’t have love. Love in your work, love in your hobbies, love from your family, love from your friends, and romantic love. Pack your life full of it, because you don’t know when it’ll be gone. And love isn’t easy, it’s not supposed to be. Love isn’t about permanent bliss, it’s about wanting someone in your life and building something that’s intangible, yet the realest thing in the world. That takes conflict, that takes compromise, and it doesn’t work all the time, or even most of the time. But if and when you find those people to share your life with, you realize that without it, nothing else really matters. All pretense, all appearances, they just melt away. Your loves are the ones you want to laugh with, to fight with, to cry with, to rejoice with, and simply just to be with. That’s the one thing that I know for certain, and I would tell myself that every waking moment if I could. Sometimes I forget that, and someone that I love always guides me back.
I write because it’s therapy for me. My minds races around at a million miles a minute and sometimes I just need to let some of it out. But in writing, I get to share my ups, my downs, my misadventures, and in short, my life. It’s terrifying and exciting, but most of all it reminds me that I’m not alone. It’s funny, even in just looking at some of the really old posts on this blog, I see how I’ve changed the past few years and it’s astonishing. I remember how insecure I was, and I think a part of me always will be, but somewhere in between there I grew up. When I look in the mirror, I see a more weathered face and a few more wrinkles (I’m really bad with sunscreen), but I’ve earned my stripes, and my eyes still stare back at me all the same, full of whatever emotion is just under the surface. You just keep on living, keep on working, and most of all, never losing that sense of wonder. I feel like I just completed my origin story and the world awaits. There’s a lot of life yet to live, escapades abound, and most importantly, love waiting to be lost and found.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for being a part of all this. At the end of the day, every last word on this blog is just coming from a guy who wants to be understood. So when you read these rambling passages you start to understand me just a little bit, and that means the world to me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Fortune favors the bold, so on with it!
January 26, 2017