A Letter to My Younger Self
I know, I know! You’ve see this kind of article before and so have I. The concept of writing a letter to your younger self is in no way new, but that doesn’t diminish how interesting the topic is. I didn’t think much of this concept until I actually pondered on what I would even say to my twelve-year-old or even my fifteen-year-old self. Heck, I could have even used this advice at twenty five! Hopefully, by giving advice I wish I had been given, it will help others!
Dear Past DeAngelo:
I hope this letter finds you in good health. At the time of writing this, I am 27 years old and have just moved into a new apartment. We run a geeky website that is steadily gaining a healthy amount of viewers, we’re still terrible at dating, and no, we didn’t end up becoming a professional wrestler for the WWE. However, we do get to go see movies for free before the official release, and we get free games for review as well! We get to attend these awesome events called ‘conventions’! There is this art form called ‘cosplay’ that we fall in love with and write about constantly. This hobby has granted us such wonderful friends, opportunities, and a great sense of self worth!
But the road to this point wasn’t always easy. Heck, I don’t think any real point of it ever was. There are constant road blocks put in our path that are both mental and physical. While there are and always will be outside forces who try to stop us now and again, you’ll come to realize we created a majority of our own problems. Here are ten crucial pieces of advice that you need to follow as soon as possible in order to get on the path of success.
Handle Your Business
Often times, when people encounter any sort of conflict that is even the slightest bit difficult, they tend to escape in some way. Some people use food, others use TV, and some work out or drown themselves in friends. While using these forms of escapism are helpful for combating stress, it is only a band-aid over an open wound. We tend to run away to video games when times get rough. How wonderful it is to lose our self in a game where we have the ability to save the day with a single tap of a button. As you can expect, the longer we ignore our problems, the worse the situation becomes. They never go away either. It’ll always get to a point where life forces us to face our problems, only now it is this incredible beast when it had been so small at the start.
Eventually we learn that it is best to handle our business first and escape to games second, no matter how stressful things become. The faster you learn this, the easier life will become!
No Person, Place, or Thing Can Grant You True Happiness
Everyone on this planet just wants to be happy. We all want to walk down the road and with each and every step we take know that we are on the right path. We want to have the respect of our peers and the love of those we hold affection for. Unfortunately, life isn’t always that easy, and we spend our days in pursuit of that perfect balance. A beautiful lie many tell is that we just need X and then everything will be great.
We just need to be in a relationship. We just need to get that job. We just need to travel to that place. We just need to buy that thing.
It is never that easy. Sure, some of these things will help make you happier but it is temporary. Each situation comes with a new set of problems. In order to find true happiness, you need to look within yourself.
I know it sounds cheesy, but it is the gospel truth. You know how Jedi or characters in anime say “I will meditate on this”? That is exactly what you need to do. Take time to address the concerns you have and find out exactly why they weigh so heavily on yourself. It helps sort out that mess. With enough time and dedication, you’ll find the answers you’ve been searching for and those things you ‘needed’ become luxuries that you can indulge in without it being a need.
Not Everyone You Met at the Starting Line Will Be There at the End
We’re going to meet a lot of people. Some of them will be wonderful and others won’t be. You will find that, just like you, people change as they grow older. Life happens and it shapes their view on the world as well as their morals and motivations. When we were younger, we had this vision of partnering up with those we played with at recess or played video games with in high school to chase our dreams. No matter how incredible the goal was, we would climb every mountain together just like we saw time and again on every Disney channel original movie.
The hard truth is that this rarely happens. Just as in group projects for school, many members will relax in the background while one or two members do all of the heavy lifting. Every single time we try to work with friends for something serious, it falls apart. I know how much stress it piles on us to know that in order to succeed you need to break away from friends and focus on yourself, but it is necessary. You need to remember this quote from Dr. Seuss, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
You’ll know who your true friends are by their support and actions despite the situation not being in their favor. If people walk away after being asked to help more, then they are doing you a favor. Along the way, you’ll meet people who will have no problem working just as hard as you do and share in your same vision of their own. An easy way of identifying these people is by the way they run towards difficult situations rather than away from them.
Your Word is Your Bond
Remember those old films we used to watch where the hero would say “You have my word.” and every character would hold that in such high regard? In life you’ll hear people around you say the same thing but rarely do they ever mean it.
Don’t worry about the rest of the world though. You must always be a man of your word no matter how hard it will be. If you are unable to fulfill a promise then you own up to it, apologize, and give advance notice. Even if the person you promised gets offended, they will still hold respect for you for taking the time to apologize. However, you never want to write checks you can’t cash even if people try and force you into agreeing and get offended when you hold your ground.
The more people around you realize that you mean every word that leaves your mouth, it will cause them to listen and trust in you. Trust and respect of others is priceless and should always be held in the highest regard. Those who lie, cheat, and steal always get caught and their reputation is never the same. No feeling will ever compare to a guiltless conscience, the admiration of your peers, and as a bonus it grants you the precious gift of sound sleep.
You Can’t Solve Every Problem
We’re just like our parents and we know it. Every single time we see someone in physical need, we can’t help but offer our assistance like our father. Every single time we discover someone in an emotional crisis, no matter if they are friend or foe, we make time to consul them and sympathize with them like our mother. These acts are almost always good and are appreciated, but we have our limits.
Some of our biggest regrets are taking on the task of trying to ‘fix’ others. We see them weep, we watch them harm themselves, we hear them disrespect themselves and can not bear it. So we vow to place all of our time and energy into helping them. This is one of the most arrogant things we can ever do.
Human beings are such wonderful creatures and their complexity makes them beautiful despite all of their flaws. Just as we must do for ourselves, every person is responsible for creating their own happiness and solving their own problems.
We burnt bridges, sacrificed our own mental health, physical health, reputation, money, and even left a fantastic job that supported us in everything we did because we thought it would help fix another person. At the end of the day, that friend we gave so much to left us and they still have many of their issues with little to no progress to show for it.
Understanding the lesson of letting others deal with their own problems, no matter how difficult it may be, was a hard one for sure.
Take Pride In Yourself
This might be one of the most difficult lessons we have to learn because self confidence is something we will always struggle with. All our life dear friends and family will shower us in praise that we feel is undeserved. We can’t paint like our father, we can’t write like our mother, and we can’t sing like our sister and this weighed so heavily on our mind.
We felt like failures growing up because we didn’t fit the mold. In turn, we grew self conscious and tried our best to hide away so that no one would get too close because we always feared the closer people got, the more apparent our flaws would be.
Honestly, we make a lot of mistakes all of the time. We struggle sometimes to accomplish tasks that others can complete with a simple thought. Some peers call us dumb and do so jokingly while others mean it wholeheartedly.
At some point we understand that terms of ‘smart’ and ‘dumb’ are rarely accurate and those who use these terms loosely are ignorant. While we do sometimes get hung up on small bumps in the road, we have the ability to make leaps and bounds over major obstacles that others only ever dream of doing.
If you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb trees and judge a monkey on it’s ability to fly, they will both seem incompetent. However, place the fish in water and monkey in a tree and they will excel. Every person on this earth has a set of skills they are adept in. Ask us how to get somewhere without GPS and we’re hopeless, but we can speak in public or appear on camera without any trouble. Ask us questions about cars and we’ll fail every time, but if we encounter a new person we can turn them into friends in record time.
Also, always remember to consider the fact that denying someone who is trying to give you praise is an insult to them.
Take Caution When You See Red Flags
Good ol’ red flags. The signs early on that there are potential problems or issues with a person. We don’t just give people second chances; we give them nine chances. We are a sucker for a good redemption story and want to be involved in that process, but some people are just beyond our help.
Every moment we spare for them is wasted and has no positive return. We know how it feels to be walked all over by friends who get too comfortable and start making demands and having expectations of us. If you can understand which people are worth fighting for and which are just there to consume your resources, use that knowledge and filter them accordingly.
Imagine driving down a road and various signs tell you to be cautious of harsh weather, and suddenly the sky grows dark with clouds. You’d heed the warning to preserve your physical safety, right? Recognizing red flags with situations and people help preserve your emotional and mental safety.
The Seeds You Plant Will Only Grow With Blood, Sweat, and Tears
In life we try our best to stay as comfortable as possible, which makes sense! Why stress out or be uncomfortable when you can take it easy? I have some bad news. If you want to make progress, I mean real progress in whatever you want to do, then you need to make discomfort your best friend.
When you are feeling uneasy, it typically means that you are in a new situation and you are unsure of how it will turn out. This can involve people, places, or events, but to work so hard that you become uneasy means that you are pushing your boundaries.
Imagine all of those anime characters who trained endlessly in order to overcome whatever conflict they encountered. By the end of their training they are bloody, broken, and typically have emotional breakdowns. The aftermath of such hard work and dedication are incredible results that eclipse all those who took it easy. While anime is very fantastic and often unrealistic, this is one aspect that is absolutely true.
If you want to make sure that you not only succeed but you surpass all those around you, then you need to pour your all into your craft. When everyone else is partying away, you are working away. When others turn away out of fear, you march forward. Those situations that would break anyone else, you stand your ground and endure. Sooner or later, you’ll crave for more uncomfortable situations to push yourself to that next level and all those things that previously made you shake in fear become nothing to you.
One of the hardest truths in life is that tomorrow is never promised today. Meaning that none of us have any guarantees that we will live to see the next sunrise and try as we might to distract ourselves from this, it doesn’t change this fact. This goes for everyone we encounter as well.
Whether it is your best friend or your worst enemy, they will have a final day on this earth. It might be decades from now by natural means or months by their own means. I have come to find that it is best to always treat everyone with nothing but kindness and love. We just don’t know what another person might be experiencing, who are we to ever disrespect others?
Kindness can do wonders in ways that we could never even begin to imagine. You’d also be surprised by how many friends become enemies and enemies become friends. Every day we grow as people and our views on the world shift.
They say you’ll meet everyone at least twice in your life. Be kind to them in the first encounter because you never ever know where you or they will be in that second encounter.
If we can not be kind, then we at the very least shouldn’t be mean. Not to mention others always receive word on how you handled every difficult situation for better or worse and it will influence them next time they have something on their mind. On the same subject, it should also be understood that while kindness and attention are always something we should give to others, sometimes situations require the kindness of distance and silence to allow others to help themselves.
We will lose dear friends too soon. We will be made aware that some of those we are not fond of will try to take their own life. No matter what is going on, always keep this in mind. It’ll help overcome any sort of frustration or malice we might have towards others. If others dislike us then so be it, as long as they, and their family, are of sound mind, body, and health.
We love food. We can’t help but fall in love with women whose eyeliner wings are on point. We secretly judge others on their preference of dubbed or subbed anime. We believe wholeheartedly that we can make a difference in this world if we keep on going with Geek Lyfe. We are terrified of horror films and yet can’t help but chase them. We have such admiration for all of our dear friends because of how wonderful they are, and are so curious as to why they would ever give you a minute of their time. We have such a strong love for La La Land and are slightly ashamed of it. We want to wear nothing but fine dress clothes and suspenders for the rest of our lives. We can’t help but sing our hearts out to Dean Martin when we are alone.
We’re not the best. We’re so lazy that it hurts. We’re not the brightest. We aren’t the best brother or son. We let others down from time to time. We are awkward as all hell, and yet at the very same time we are fantastic.
Everything is going to work out. Don’t worry so much and just keep on trusting in your gut and move forward. We will do some great things as the years go on and, at least from where I’m standing, we have a good head on our shoulders!
Sincerely, Future DeAngelo