For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking, “If the 45-year-old Chad could sit down a talk with the teenage Chad what’s the best advice I would give for the future?”
As I contemplated my answer to this question I kept changing my mind. I’d consider one piece of advice and think “That’s Perfect!” but then I’d think of something else that would be equally as good advice and may be more important in the overall scheme of things.
After much consideration I believe I have it narrowed down to a few things I would tell the teenage version of myself.
The first thing I’d say would be “Chad, I know at this age you think the world revolves around you. But it really DOESN’T. Get to know other people by taking the time to really listen to them and always make others feel important because they are important.”
Secondly, I’d say, “Chad, you act like you’re bold and confident but if the truth be told, you’re actually very insecure. Since you lack confidence you try to make other people feel small by making fun of them and picking on them. Stop it now because what you say and do will be remembered by those who are the brunt of it long after you’ve forgotten all about it.”
Lastly, I’d say, “Chad, you may not believe this but, your parents are right when they say life goes by fast. So don’t go through life in a hurry. Soak it all in, every moment, because in a blink of an eye it will have passed you by and there are no do-overs.”
So, what advice would you give to your teenage self?
If you can believe it, I actually have a few friends. I asked them if they’d share their answers to this question. What would you tell the younger you? Here are some of their answers.
“I’d say try your hardest at whatever you do. Don’t expect THE best, but give YOUR best!! And like yourself. If you do then others will like you too!!” -anonymous
My friend Tim said, “The number one thing I would tell myself is don’t take life so serious it’s not about you.”
Tim’s brother, Nathan who is also a good buddy of mine shared, “My advice to myself would be to live life more intentionally. Don’t just allow things to ‘happen’. Create your own destiny instead of allowing life to create your destiny for you. Be more financially responsible. Learn a valuable trade. Learn a valuable trade. Again, learn a valuable trade! Be your own self and don’t worry what other people think.”
Another friend said, “My advice would be don’t settle… fear of the unknown is not a good enough reason stay put.”
My friend, Chad M.: “If I could sit down with my teenage self, I would have lots to say, as I’m sure many would, if given the chance. The main thing would be to not care so much what others think. So many of my bad decisions I made were based on what some may think. My alcohol abuse started at 18, mainly because of the anxiety that came along with what others think or might think, MIGHT being a very important word.
I would also tell teen Chad to focus on what it is you love to do, or dream to do, and go for it. It is possible. Don’t let others opinions of what you should do for your future steer your direction in life. Don’t be afraid to take a chance.
Also, love your family and spend as much time as possible with them. Time is short, and their time with you can be cut short at any moment. Cherish that time. Cherish your life. It’s a gift that at any moment can be taken from you.”
Another answer I received was from Judge Hyde. He said, “If I could talk to my teenage self, I would give the following advice (although I expect it would not be understood or appreciated). Everything you do will leave a mark on the world. Even those acts done in private will leave a mark on yourself. Every act has a consequence. Like footprints or the wake of a boat. Some may quickly disappear and some will last forever, but they all will exist for some period of time. They can be either a good mark or a bad mark. Therefore the question before every action is fairly simple. If I do this act, will the mark that it leaves on this world be a good one or a bad one. When a man can take the time to think this simple question through prior to acting, he will leave a much better mark on this world.”
The words of my wife, Bobbie were “I would not have given any unsolicited advice because – in reality – I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway. Instead, I’d spend quality time, set a good example and build a trusting, open relationship. I’d try to help teenage me understand her worth. I don’t think I ever once thought of myself as smart or talented or special. I wish I had understood those things. I think I would have applied myself more had I grasped those ideas. Advice to teenagers feels like lecturing – Even though it’s not intended that way. Being an example and having a connection is better than ‘talk’.”
My good friend, Jerry, would tell his younger self, “Put your faith in Jesus. Respect your parents more. Take your parents advice because they really are right. Save money and buy land.”
Gayle, nearly 70 years old shared her answer. “Thinking back to my teenage years is a stretch! If I were to be able to advise that shy young woman, I would say – be yourself! It is too easy to go with the crowd in those years. Be more of a leader, have ideas but also reject those that do not work for you. As an older adult, I have done some things to be proud of, whether in my career or in retirement. I worked at helping others, still do. Do that as a young person, get out of the ‘ME’ mode. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. Life is so serious and we must be secure enough to enjoy the funny things we do and allow others to enjoy them also. I would also say, follow that dream. Life is too short to not enjoy what you choose as your life’s work. Happy at your work is a good creed to follow. Love well. Be open to it. Yes, hurt may come with it, but if you never take a chance, you won’t find real love.”
Think about it. What would you tell the teenage you? If you want, share your thoughts.