Dear 19-year-old self

The first thing you need to do when you read this is to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why you’re wearing clothes three times your size. I know hiphop and gangsta rap is big during this time but really?

Second thing you need to do is to turn off that computer, get out of the house, and explore the world. There’s beauty in it although I know it’ll be hard for you to understand this right now.

Third thing I need you to do is pick up a book and commit to reading it. After you finish that book, pick up another and do the same. Believe me, these will help you a lot down the road.

You have a great family. You don’t have a troubled life like the rappers you idolize — don’t try to live theirs. It’s okay to talk to other people. You don’t have to be in front of the computer all the time living your virtual life. If you’re still using HeLLpHyRe as your handle, please know that it is tacky and you’re better off using your real name and conversing in the real world.

By now you’re probably thinking of dropping out of college, bored because you’re not learning anything new. You’re probably thinking computer science was the wrong choice and lean towards shifting to a different course. Don’t do it. Soldier on and graduate in a year or two. And if you’ve done the three things I’ve mentioned above, you probably know by now that you don’t have to get a job right away.

Try entrepreneurship. Try starting something. You might not be successful right away but by now you should know that failure is okay. Try this for a year or two and if by then you haven’t found success — whatever your definition of it is — that’s okay. Try getting a job to get some experience. It’s going to be pretty exciting getting that first paycheck but do know that it’s more about the experience than the money.

Learn as much as you can but please don’t mess it all up by doing stupid shit — things that you’ll consider to be cool, things you think will get you in. Don’t bother. These are all superficial and you’ll realize later on that it’s all a waste of time.

By your early twenties, you should’ve gathered enough experience to make you realize you can do great things. I also hope you’ve found God and is thinking about accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior by this time. Again, this might seem a little arbitrary to you, but believe me this will help you greatly later in life.

Do things. Experiment. Learn. Then do it all over again. This is the best time to do such things since you don’t have anything else to think of but yourself. Try to wait a little longer before starting a family as this will complicate things a lot.

If by your mid-twenties you’re still doing the three things I’ve mentioned above, you’re on a path to become successful. You can settle down by your thirties. Find a beautiful woman, start a family, and buy that huge house. By now, you’re probably a millionaire already. You made it! Congratulations, kid.

. . .

I’m writing this on the day you become thirty three. I want you to know that by now I am not a millionaire, I don’t have a huge house, and I don’t consider myself successful just yet — which is why I’m writing to you.

I have a family of my own, I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and I have devoured books after books. Oh, I also threw away the baggy jeans and oversized football jerseys. I am happy to tell you that I’m wearing my size now and have done away with anything that can be seen as excessive (hint: that silver chain you’re wearing right now).

Life’s been a challenge but I am happy. I am grateful for all the experiences and trials I went through. Even though I didn’t do the things I’ve advised you to do, I feel like I lived a life well-lived.

. . .

I am also very sorry that you won’t be reading this letter because I won’t be sending it to you. Writing this, I felt like you would’ve grown to be an asshole had you followed my advice. I feel like the success would’ve made you too proud and forget about everything else I’ve said. I feel like you would’ve ended up disappointing me and everyone else.

Now that I think about it, I’m glad I went through everything I did. It took longer but it made me a better person. It took a lot of detours but that only made me stronger. It took actually getting out of my comfort zone but it made me who I am today. I am happy where I am right now and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If, however, our future self gets to become a smart ass, builds a time machine, gets a hold of this letter, and show it to you — I am happy you’ve read this far.

I want you to understand that I am proud of you and I believe in you. Stick to what you’re doing, kid. Be humble. Don’t worry about a lot of things. Take each day as it comes. Don’t change anything and be yourself. You’re going to be fine. We’re going to be fine.

Lots of love — your 33-year-old self