What to Tell Yourself

If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself?

Would you give some sage advice?

Would you warn your younger self to steer clear of “that person”?

I’ve been going through a lot of old photos in preparation for my 40th High School reunion. I was the yearbook photographer. When the yearbook was done, I asked what they wanted to do with the negatives. They said whatever you want.

So, 40 years later, over a thousand photos are finally being scanned.

What do I see when I look at them?

In my friends and classmates, I see

a youthful vibrancy

serious study

playful disregard for responsibility

a desperate cry to be noticed

In myself I see

                        outward confidence

                        inner utter lack of self esteem

                        confusion over where my life was going

                        a tremendous amount of hope for the blank book that was my future life.

After thinking it over, I’ve decided what I would tell my 18-year-old self if I could go back 40 years.

It wouldn’t be to go to a different college or to stick closer to my studies, though I could have done better.

Nor would I give myself relationship advice, though I made plenty of mistakes there.

Maybe I would tell myself to hang on to that first car of mine. It’d be worth a ton now.

But, no, what I really want to tell my younger self is –

1968 Plymouth Satellite Wagon


Instead, I think it’s time to turn the tables on this little mental exercise.

You see, when I look in the eyes of that awkward dork of a high school senior, I see the lessons that he needs to teach me.

He’d teach me to look at life with curiosity and never stop learning.

He’d teach me that romance is worth the effort.

He’d teach me that fun is, well, fun.

He’d teach me that faith is worth exploring with an open, but faithful mind.

He’d teach me to not turn my back on adventure.

Most of all, he’d teach me that there is no such thing as too much hope! I need to remember that Lord willing, I have decades to go in this life and an eternity in the next.

Unlike that 18-year-old, I have far greater skills and knowledge to share and build upon. I have greater opportunities too. So do you!

Once I retire, I’ll have far more time as well.

So, listen to your 18-year-old self, or at least listen to that awkward skinny kid from California by way of the hills of southwest Virginia.

Let hope reign in your life!

And if you happen to see that olive green ’68 Plymouth wagon around, let me know.

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