A Message to One's Former Self

Apr. 25, 2024 [introspective]

Much of what I compose never finds its way beyond the drafting folder. Under a bit of a melancholic mood, I put together what could be a letter to myself of fifteen or twenty years prior. But if it can be to the benefit of any soul who happens to be similarly positioned as I had, then I see no reason to keep it all to myself. Redacted a bit to preserve personal details.

Dear self

You do not require anyone’s permission, or anyone’s blessing, to go and pursue the things you want to do in life. There is no point at which anybody formally tells you “you may now go work toward your goals.” Sitting and waiting only runs down the clock on the precious window of opportunity afforded by the position you occupy in life. Opportunities will periodically present themselves. Act on them! Situations in which you are uniquely suited to answer the call. Ephemeral moments which, once passed, can only reside as a memory – either as an experience or as a regret. Don’t allow them to become regrets. The joy of an accomplishment is made bitter when it is realized only too late. Beyond the window when the milestone can be shared among others. When it could have been more complete and fulfilling had only you done it earlier in life. There is no reset button on reality.

The people around you will drop away. Even if it doesn’t seem imminent. The tumult of society will close doors once open to you. Telling yourself “I’ll get around to it someday” will doom many aspirations to be shut away behind those doors before you ever get to reach out at them.

Whether you are eighteen or twenty five or twenty seven, it is only once that you will ever be. There is nothing wrong with savoring the joy of a peaceful time in life. But do not allow yourself to languish. To overindulge. Remaining captive even to the most favorable arrangements can come at the great expense of your ambitions.

You can avoid such a future. Taking the requisite steps may seem paralyzing. But the consequences for mistepping are seldom as severe as your imagination makes them out to be. While the consequences of failing to act on your ambitions are far more tangible.

Keep up your instrument learning and take it more seriously. Reading sheet music and training it into your muscle memory is key.

Graciously accept the affections of your siblings and relatives. Even if it seems inconvenient or irritating in the moment.

Talk to the girls who make efforts to place themselves into your proximity. Reciprocate their bold gestures.

Having a job, an income, during your youth isn’t the worst thing in the world. The doors it opens are incalculable.

Shoot for a big university rather than settling for what is “safe” and comfortable. They will probably accept you. You are much more intelligent than you give yourself credit for.

Go for the robotics tract. It really begins to grow in a few decades, trust me.

You only play games because it is the one place in which you feel you can exert yourself, exercise power and achieve any goals. But it is all fake, a time sink. It won’t mean anything in the subsequent chapters of your life. Drop gaming and build skills while you still enjoy peak brain plasticity.

Accept invitations to functions, parties and get togethers. The double date that she arranged was because she is interested in you. She’s not just callously testing the waters.

Actually engage in trying to learn the langauge during your French courses. It is easier than you realize, especially when the script is already in romanized character.

Allow yourself to become comfortable conversing with others. You don’t have to be so guarded all the time. They’re not all out to take advantage of you or to belittle you when you fumble.

Don’t give up when that first Ubuntu disc fails to boot. Recheck the installation image and whether it has been burned as bootable media. The years-long head start will set you on a path for incredible knowledge and useful skills. It will also help you break out of the vice that is gaming.

When a friend shares his favorite series with you, accept his suggestion and indulge in it. He really just wants somebody else who knows and appreciates it to talk with. And it will open you up to a whole new entertainment medium while you’re still young enough to be surrounded by others who can share the joys of engaging in it.

Open up with your grandparents. They want to know you and who you are. Their inquisitiveness is not just formalities. A distant grandson is probably a point of dismay for them. Even if you don’t think that what you have to share will be understood, or even positively received at all. The dialogue itself is connection enough for fulfillment. You may even find more common ground than you think. And they would be overjoyed if you’d introduce them to a prospective young lady you’ve met at school.

You already know they won’t be there forever. I’ll refrain from sharing just how brief a time that is.

Once you have your own transportation, nobody is preventing you from taking advantage of it. It’s not as expensive as you envision. And there is no better time than when you have as few responsibilities as you will ever enjoy. You can even leave the country. And if you do, don’t just settle for a week, or two, or a month. Stay for as long as your documents permit. You never know when you’ll be able to return, or if you will ever be able to return again at all.

Stop making excuses for yourself. The financal recession of your early adulthood is not a one-off event. The economy being demolished will be a regular fixture throughout your life. There is little sense waiting around for “things to recover”. Nor should you anchor yourself just because you don’t know how much time is left with certain loved ones. Again, you can travel readily and easily. You are adaptable.

Trying to squeeze out every last drop of an idealic period in your life is an exersize in diminishing returns. The chains binding you to the comfortable and familiar are entirely of your own making. A psychological prison to which you don’t even realize the cell door is unlocked. You can leave whenever you wish. So, will you do it?