What would you do different?Published 9:00am Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I’ll be 45 in May. Depending upon how old you happen to be, my age casts me into one of three categories: Young Pup, Middle Aged, or Old Man.
If your age places me in the category of Old Man, this story is for you. Hopefully, those of you who truly are Young Pups can learn from my retrospect.
If I Could Go Back 30 Years, Knowing What I Know Now:
> Education would be a huge priority. I would understand the value of learning as much as I possibly can about my specific area of interest. And I would realize I don’t know anything, even though I think I know everything. Teachers would be my allies, not my enemies. Being willfully ignorant would never be cool!
> I wouldn’t choose a career based on how much money I can make; Rather, I would choose one based on how much happiness it brings me. I would know I was born with specific interests for a reason…and I would passionately follow those interests.
> If someone laughed at my dreams, I would laugh at their ignorance. People don’t have to believe in me for me to believe in me! I refuse to allow negative people to kill my dreams!
> I would never rely on a relationship to make me “happy.” However, if I was lucky enough to know someone who is truly special, I would make every effort to show that person how much I care so I do not have future regrets. True love is much different from the “love” I think I feel at this age.
> I would submit to the Will of God by reading the Bible, which would diminish the destructive power temptation has on my delicate mind. The Bible is the greatest resource available to man. I would recognize its value much earlier in life and live by its never-failing principles.
> I would not ignorantly believe my self-esteem and reputation is boosted via sexual conquests. Sure, my hormones are hopping. But the sex I have today will cause me problems tomorrow… possibly many tomorrows.
> I would recognize the Beast: Alcohol, cigarettes, snuff, marijuana, pain pills, cocaine, heroin, Xanax, LSD, etc., and realize they exist solely to kill my dreams and me, but lie to me and say it makes me look “cool.” Those who choose to throw their lives away with these substances are not “cool.” They are looking to fit in somewhere. I know where I’m going and need no approval from these misguided souls.
> I would treat everyone with respect….even people I do not like. I would learn the meaning of the adage “Kill ‘Em With Kindness.” And, having read my Bible, would understand the value of patience, empathy, and understanding.
> I would understand the value of networking and never slander the name of someone else. Nobody would be able to say I was a gossip who rips people down behind their backs due to my own self-efficacy issues.
> Speaking of anger, I would take time to think before I impulsively said or did something I would later regret. This will pay huge dividends for me later because people won’t hold grudges if I don’t do anything to tick them off.
> I would seek positive friends who engaged in worthy hobbies and pursuits, even if my peers think they are geeks. The geeks are the people who are going somewhere in life. I want to be with this crowd! At our 10 year reunion, I’ll be happy I associated with these guys instead of the “cool” kids who are still going nowhere.
> I would take much better care of my body, realizing that what I do with it today is going to matter for the length of my existence.
> I wouldn’t waste valuable time watching TV or aimlessly misusing the greatest, yet most abused, resource in the history of mankind; the Internet. I would learn something new every single day as an investment in myself and those whose lives are affected by my life.
> I would learn to master the English language because I am aware that my understanding and usage of words will, to a great degree, determine my success in this life.
> I wouldn’t judge others. Everyone has flaws, as do I. My job isn’t to point out flaws in others. My job is to correct my own flaws….and this task may take a lifetime.
> If I love someone, I would let them know. Sometimes, you don’t get another chance to tell a person how you feel about them. I won’t feel this regret because I swallowed my pride and said what I felt while he/she was still here.
> Depression wouldn’t debilitate me. Most of the time, it happens and then it’s gone. I wouldn’t choose, by fixating on things I cannot change, to let it hang around. I have too many more positive things to experience.
> I would realize I have a ton of bad thoughts cross my mind, but I have choices other than these thoughts. I have crazy thoughts, but I don’t have to act on them. I can make a better decision if only I take a moment to think.
> I would be responsible with my money and not waste it. One day, this money will provide better things for my loved ones and me. I’ll be happy I saved it.
> Even though I do not yet have children, I would think about how my decisions are going to affect them once they are born….and I would make decisions that give them a better chance in life.
> I would be especially kind to the elderly, who have walked the path I’m presently on. They have nuggets of wisdom that, if I listen, could help me avoid numerous pitfalls.
I could continue this list into infinity. How many of us “experienced” souls, those over forty, wouldn’t go back and do things differently? None, I’d bet.
But you Young Pups have a chance to make better decisions today; If only you listen and learn from people like this Old Man.
Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.