Thursday, July 21, 2005
A new meme!
Anyway here goes: List 3-5 things that you would put in a "Back to the Future" type letter from you now, to your younger self you, say 20-21 year old you about to graduate college or any other similar pursuit. There are only two caveats here: 1) you cannot direct your younger self to do anything or violate the principle of free will in decision making and 2) you should not try to reveal specific events in the future since, in theory, if any of your advice is accepted it will already screw up the time line and the events won't happen at all. This should, however to allow you to give your younger self some advice, and in the process force some introspection into your own existence. It can be as shallow or as revealing as you like, and feel comfortable with.
So here is mine, written to my younger self when he was just starting his junior year at a prestigious military college that both Foggy and I know very well.
Hello my friend its me, an older, hopefully wiser, somewhat sadder you, looking back at all 117 pounds of you as you enjoy what you are going to come to treasure as "the best years of your life". Sure you don't recognize it now, because you are immersed in the daily routine of the Corps of Cadets, but stop and think a minute; how proud are you to be wearing those gray nasty's today?
Oh how I wish I could live those days knowing what I know now! However you will quickly learn that life is not a series of life or death decisions, but rather little seemingly insignificant choices that, without realizing it, rise up and become your life and your fate. My hope for this letter is that some of the advice contained herein will allow you to make the right choices and be able to better enjoy their outcome.
So I've got 3 things to pass on ( plus a couple of sidebars....).
First: You are the only one responsible for your happiness. The idea that out there somewhere, is one special woman who will do that for you is sheer nonsense. That is not to say that you cannot, or will not, find someone with whom you can live comfortably and experience much happiness; but the idea of marriage as a be all and end all of existence is poppycock. Take your time with romance. Meet a lot of girls, but also realize that breaking up with one or two or four is not the end of the world. Its actually a good thing. If enroute, you meet one who really rocks your world great, but give it time. If she is the right one for you, she'll be patient and and together she will figure out if you are the right one for her. There are a lot of women out there and believe me, if that one passe you buy, there are others who will make you just as happy. Marry in haste, and you will feel pain like you cannot even now begin to comprehend. While you are looking, meet, (and sleep with...(but use protection...give it a few years and you will understand why)) as many women as you can. It will give you an edge and allow you to be more discerning about the choice when the time comes. Trust me, this is one area I know about from hard experience.
Second, take time to smell the roses. I'm not telling you not to study, but keep your work life and your real life in balance. The two are not the same and one of the shortcomings of your military education is that it makes you incredibly passionate about being good in your profession. That's not a bad thing, but when you are tempted to really put aside some of the fun things, only for work, ask your self this question: "How long will I be dead?" Work is with you always, other things are not. You laugh, but in a few years you are going to attend the funerals of friends you laugh with, and drink beer with now. Get out travel, explore, and do more than the same dreary routine.
Finally, when you start making real money, make it a point to save at least 10% , if not 15% of your income. Have it come out of your pay automatically. You will not notice it this way. Invest some in other things besides a savings account. Like Nike will tell you some day, just do it! Having money saved will give you options you will not have if you live paycheck to paycheck. Think about it for minute. Right now you think the old man is pissed at you because you bought that used 1970 Volkswagen. Trust me, he's not. He's actually very proud of you for making a big decision on your own. Problem is acting pissed is the only way he knows to make you understand the seriousness of what you have undertaken. Don't let a wife, a girlfriend, a friend or anyone else, stand between you and getting that money put away. Driving a used car is really not so bad, and as your savings grow you'll be able to have more options to choose from. Having money in the bank will help you face change, and allow you to be more decisive, because if things go sour, you will still be able to move on and pay your bills in the short term. Please believe me on this.
Miscellaneous things to think about:
The language courses you hate now, you are going to wish you had stuck with later in life.
If you do not get to fly A-7's its not the end of the world. So long as you end up in Naval Aviation you will enjoy it. They are not lying to you when they say no matter what aircraft you get, you are going to end up enjoying it. Just get to your wings and let the rest take care of itself.
Don't be afraid to be stationed overseas.
Go back to playing golf. You'll thank me for it later. Pay for some lessons from someone who knows how to play the game.
Call Mom. Yea its a pain in the ass and she is going to lecture you, but she loves you more than you know. And while you do not realize it now she knows a few things that you do not. That 30 minutes on the phone will make her and you feel better.
Finally, remember that you are a great guy. It does not matter what anyone else says, or what kind of evaluations you get or how much money you have or even what your future wife thinks about you. Just be comfortable with yourself. You know your boundaries. Don't let others define them for you and things will be all right.
I'm cheering for you,
Now comes the hard part. I tag Bookworm, CDR Salamander, and Spike! There's some good reading ahead I think.