Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What did the 28-year-old say to the 23-year-old?

I don't know what sort of epiphany I had the other day, but this idea popped into my head: What would my 28-year-old self say to my 23-year-old self? Regardless of how old you are, I encourage everyone to think about what you'd say to yourself five years ago.

Half a decade ago, I'd been married for less than six months, was thinking about purchasing my first home, and had just been promoted to management at a job I was determined not to turn into a career. So many things were knew and exciting, and I was impatient for a lot to happen. In fact, I'd dare say that I'm a completely different person now.

I know a lot of people who are 23, or close to it. They're recent grads with big dreams and a desire to get where they're going now. I was that way, too. I didn't know it all, but I thought I knew most of it. But now at 28, I don't think I even know half of it.

So, here's what I'd say:
  • You can't imagine where you'll be in five years. Embrace that mystery.
  • It doesn't matter where you'll be in ten years. Just try to be happy with it.
  • You're going to start eating a lot of salads. And you'll like it.
  • Religious stuff ain't that big of a deal. You write a lot about it now, but you won't later.
  • Love your wife more today than yesterday.
  • You'll love running again.
  • If you want to find balance in life, discover how important both flexibility and stability are to you.
  • There are a lot of fine lines in life. Learn how to navigate them correctly and you'll be okay.
  • Social capital is everything and it always will be.
  • You don't have a clue.
  • Your passions will change in life. Sort of like best friends.
  • Go see everyone get married, but don't feel bad if you can't make one or two.
  • Get better at learning. Always.
  • It gets a lot more fun.
  • Ask for help and ask for advice. It's okay.
  • It gets harder to lose weight and it takes longer to burn off a night out. So even though you want more, one piece of cheesecake will do.
  • For the next five years, save as much money as you can, spend time with your family often, and make a list of every good idea that pops into your head.
  • Keeping asking, "Why not?"
  • In about 10 months, you're going to get food poisoning really bad. So, steer clear of the shrimp on Easter.
I can't wait to see what I think of who I am now when I'm 33.

Comments (17)

Thank you so much for writing and sharing this. I just turned 24 a month ago, and already Im starting to wonder what life is going to be like five, ten, fifteen years from now. I don't know what the future holds, nobody does, but one thing for certain is that Im excited. Looking back at when I was 18, if the past five/six years are any indication of where things are heading, the road ahead certainly looks promising.

Great insight, Renjie! I agree - no matter where you are in life, so much can happen in just 5 years!

Are you and Mom trying to tell me something since I turn 23 in 3 days?

Sam -

What a fun post. I can definitely attest to a renewed vigor for running. I'm not running 17 min 3 miles anymore, but 21 isn't in the end of the world. lol

I'd like to think I'm keeping most of these in mind, though my best friends have been the same since I was 14 or so and I don't suspect that will change.

Then again if we tried to apply all of these to everyone we'd be missing the point!

And you're not lying about a night out. How did we used to go out til 4 and still dominate tests at 8 am in college? Now if I go out til midnight I'm worthless the next day.



Great to hear your thoughts. Of course, everyone's list would be different - except for the staying out 'til 4 part. Maybe that's universal.

Very fun post, Sam. Delightfully poignant with a hint of sarcasm-- a style you seem to have mastered!


great idea! I especially like "embrace the mystery" and "you don't have a clue" (I wish I'd heard that back then!)

Me and a partner have even written a book and keep a blog and Fb based around the answers we got from LOTS of people (age 36 and older)to the question "what would you tell your 18 year old self if you could?" The difference between a five year difference and a 20 year difference are interesting. I'm going to link to your site--your perspective is great!

Btw, my page is http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Get-It/87683051309?ref=ts.


Thanks for sharing the link. I really like the concept of what you're doing - and I'm now wondering what my 36-year-old self would tell my 18-year-old self. Thanks for making me think - and for sharing my post with your readers!


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interesting post and a good thing for sure that your older self has something to impart on the younger version. If not, then there has been nothing gained.

Great work! Thanks a lot.