Thursday, January 05, 2012

A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self

I recently learned of a book called Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self. In the book, various celebrities write letters to the sixteen-year-old version of themselves, guiding them with a tender touch of advice from their current state in life. Although I haven’t read the book, it made me wonder what I would write to the sixteen-year-old version of Paul. This is what I came up with.

Dear Me:

They say if you find something you love to do and can do it for a living, you won’t work a day in your life. So, congratulations, you’ve already found something you love to do and coincidentally, will make a great career. Don’t give up. Some days will be tough. Paychecks will be slim for the foreseeable future. Trust me, eventually you’ll be flying big jets all over the world, and you’ll love it. So, try not to kill yourself in small airplanes between now and then.

I know you think playing drums is cool, but make time to learn piano or guitar. You’re a good drummer, but when you’re trying to impress a woman, she won’t want to listen to a fifteen minute drum solo. While you’re learning new things, learn how to cook something more than Hot Pockets. Hot Pockets are great when you’re sixteen, but no one eats Hot Pockets in the real world. Also, women dig guys who can cook.

Speaking of women, three things: (1) When a woman says “we need to talk,” buckle up. You’re in for a long night. (2) Say what you mean, and mean what you say. That’ll make life easier and less dramatic later. (3) Follow your heart. You’ll know when it’s right.

Learn how to budget your money. When you’re in college, suck it up, you’re a poor college kid. You don’t need new clothes every month, they’re going to be out of fashion by the time you pay for them anyway. Avoid putting money on your credit card. They become exponentially harder to pay off. Your first airline job isn’t going to afford you to pay down thousands in credit card debt and live on your own, which will mean moving in with mom and dad. Don’t get me wrong, mom and dad are great, after all, you wouldn’t be where you are without them, but as a 22-year-old airline pilot, you’ll want a little more freedom than living in your parents basement provides. Also, when you’re finally able to put some money away in savings, buy some stock in a company called Google. Trust me.

Finally, say yes more often. You’ve got some really cool friends who do a lot of cool things and they’ll invite you to participate. Do it. Don’t be afraid of adventure, embrace it. Ride motorcycles. Skydive. Bungee jump. Go on weekend trips. All that stuff. Have fun and enjoy those moments in life that take your breath away.

Don’t mess this up kid, it’s your life we’re talking about.

Future You