A little chat with myself at the age of 17
I was asked a question on social media after changing my profile picture to me at 17 years old. My friend Raymond asked, “What advice would the current you give the young cat in the current profile picture ???” So I figured I’d answer in this blog.
You’re not as deep as you think. Although you live inside your imagination for the majority of your day, those thoughts bouncing around in your head that seem like solutions to every big problem comes from poorly gathered data. People aren’t as one dimensional as you think, and nothing is ever as black or white as you may convince yourself it is.
That being said, you can improve the data you use to problem-solve by reading more. It’s something you will learn to enjoy, but at that point, it will feel more like validation rather than discovery. Getting some of your lessons secondhand makes the process of developing an understanding of your world a bit slow going. So read more. And not only comic books and Dungeons & Dragons manuals.
Sleep more. You’re not missing anything. Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. It’s important to build good sleeping habits early. And by the way, staying up late doing nothing is not equivalent to rebellious behavior. That leads me to my next piece of advice:
School is important. While in school, you should take as much advantage as possible. Your academic career will be spent in places where you will be surrounded by very smart people whose jobs are very specific: to give you all you will need to survive out in the world. Listen, ask questions and do ALL of your homework! You will eventually figure out that the quality of the education is equivalent to the quality of the armor and tools you will find yourself using over and over when looking for work or planning every stage of your life as you grow older. It’s not easy out there. Make sure you are well-trained to deal with it.
Your biggest worries right now aren’t as relevant as they seem. Your world is very small right now. You may think some solutions need to be drastic. You’re wrong. Don’t bottle things up. Share them with friends and family, especially if those things are causing you to hurt inside. Everything always gets better. Do the work required to get to that better place.
Read more. I know I already said this, but just trust me. It’s really important that you make more time for reading.
Go on hikes. It is good exercise, and you will — eventually — find that it helps you clear your head and process ideas. This will be very important to you in a few decades. Trust me.
Don’t be so darn shy. Life is much more interesting when you are one of the people rattling the bars. Know when to be a passenger and when to steer the ship.
Learn the value of money. This is very important. You will eventually marry someone who gets the importance of balancing a checkbook, but a little more due diligence would save you some unnecessary struggles and also prep you for your future career as a business owner a tad bit better.
Work harder in your dad’s frame shop. He works really hard and was able to build a small one-man business from nothing. It will teach you the value of doing things right and the satisfaction of earning a buck with your hands. I’m disappointed in how you are handling the time in the shop with him. Don’t miss that opportunity to do something important for the family.
Stick with soccer. Don’t get discouraged. You may not have the skill, but you do have the heart. I know you do because you build an entire career with that same heart. You will look back on this time and wish you would have taken more shots on goal. Believe me.
Stay in the band. Some of the most fun you will have in life is while holding a guitar in your hand. Make the most of it. Keep it up. Stay in tune.
Clean your room. It’s gross. And your mom is not your slave. Have some respect for yourself and her. It’s the least you can do.
Speaking of Mom, ask her more about her life. Before it’s too late.
Drink less soda. It’s better to grow taller than wider.
Tell you parents where you are going with your friends. They are worried about you.
Realize that all that art you’re making is doing more than you think for your mind. The way you see creativity will become a center point in your life and will define you in many ways. Keep it up.
You’re not as weak as you feel. Pick yourself up and keep moving forward.
Keep your eyes open. Opportunity is everywhere. It may not be obvious. It may require some adjusting and risk-taking. But realize that it’s there and you can take advantage of every one.
You have more potential than you realize. Everyone does. Make the most of it. You are going to be okay.
And finally, always remember that parachute pants look stupid in every decade. Stop wearing them. Especially the Reggae ones.
Creative director Alex Raffi is no longer the owner of parachute pants. We suspect his wife had something to do with it.