A few weeks ago I entered a contest sponsored by Garrison Keillor. It was called, “Dear You” and the theme was to write a poem in the form of a letter to any living person. I wrote a letter to my 20 year old self. Unfortunately, I didn’t win BUT the act of writing it provided me with some great insights so it wasn’t a total loss.
Writing this letter was so helpful to me I challenge you to try writing a letter to your 20 year old self and see how much you learn from it. It was such an amazing (and scary) thing to revisit who I was to realize how much I’ve grown and where I’d like to take my life from this point forward.
At the advice of James Altucher I’m also going to write a letter to my 106 year old self and will post it soon.
If you try this exercise and feel comfortable sharing it with us please post it on my page!
Here’s my entry:
Dear Twenty-year old Eric:
You are much stronger than you think and in the next twenty years the world will test that strength to the fullest. Life isn’t anything remotely as you imagine it to be now, it’s much tougher and more beautiful than you can know. Don’t believe anything you hear in the news, the history books, or from any government. Be gentle with yourself and others. Celebrate each success. Try not to judge. Everybody feels insecure inside, some people are just better at hiding it. Don’t worry so much about what others think of you. Tell the truth, especially to yourself.
One day you will switch roles with your parents. Remember all of those times you made your parents worry? Well, get ready, karma is coming for you. Enjoy each moment, right now it feels like you’ll live forever but time is incredibly short. Never put your dreams on hold for anyone, you will resent them for it. Success exists just outside your comfort zone. Cars are a huge waste of time and money. Spend your money on experiences.
Pay attention to your pets, they are more intelligent than you think they are and have many lessons to teach you in their short lives. Nothing hurts as much as regret. Watch the sunrise at least once a year.
Don’t worry so much about your credit score. Say yes to as many things that scare you as you can. Carry a Swiss army knife. Buy internet stock in 1997, sell internet stock before March 10, 2000. Mullets aren’t sexy. Some people aren’t meant to be your friends for life and that’s okay. You will write a novel. Have more fun, worry less about sleep. Buy quality stuff that can be repaired, expensive doesn’t always equate to quality. Net worth doesn’t equal self-worth. Travel and don’t be afraid to get lost. Talk to strangers. You will get wiser. Really listen to people when they speak instead of thinking what you’ll say next. Dance every single chance you get. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up.
Be yourself, always. Do yoga at least three times per week. Don’t eat soy, it’ll give you man boobs. Meditate. Your heart will be broken, you will recover. Watch less television. Butter actually is good for you (I know it sounds crazy!) Learn to trust your instincts.
Although your forehead will be higher, you will not be completely bald by the time you’re forty. You will meet and marry the love of your life. Beagles are incredibly awesome dogs. Write every single day. Travel. Although you will never have biological children of your own will get to experience some of the joys of fatherhood with your stepson. It’s awesome.
I love you, I really do, but I’m so happy that I’m not you anymore,
(signed) Forty-three year old Eric