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


Adam said...

It's never to late to learn to cook more than just Hot Pockets.

Matt said...

This piece gives a very telling insight about you Smiling Paul. You are absolutely fascinated with aviation and you are obviously proud of being a pilot and you want everybody to know it.

Very curious about not one mention of the joys of fatherhood, but numerous mentions of aviation.


Ben Carlson said...

Good idea! Though I will disagree, Hot Pockets are still yummy adult food! Wonder if I should write one of these up too, could be fun.

Anonymous said...

fingGreat blog, good advice! I loved the part about investing in Google stock.~~~Dorothy Hj.

Anonymous said...

Pretty generic Paul. Not your best work. The advice you would give yourself is actually pretty silly/stupid.

smilingpaul said...

Adam-Maybe I should have you give us a cooking lesson sometime. ;)

Matt-This was written as if I could give myself direction and suggest what to do differently. Although I might write a different letter in 15 years, there's nothing I'd currently do differently about my daughter. And although there's nothing I would do differently about my career, there were many frustrating days when I thought it'd be easier to do something else. Which is why I wrote the encouragement not to quit.

Anonymous #2-It's written as a casual letter, so the format is maybe not my typical blog writing style. Also, it's just a blog, not a Nobel prize winning piece. And it's supposed to be silly, it's a letter sent to someone back in time, which is silly in and of itself.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog buddeh!!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Smiling Paul, I believe you are about to receive a surge in popularity. That is all.