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After last week’s post, I have mentally begun referring to myself as a writer.

I even took the bold step of declaring it out loud to a few close friends and family.

One friend, in particular, was incredibly supportive and IMMEDIATELY started bombarding me with emails related to writing and blogging. It’s the way she rolls and I love her for it.

One of the links was a call for articles on topics relating to boys and young men’s health issues.

This seemed like a perfect opportunity to use my writing to eke out some words about a topic that’s very close to me. I certainly don’t feel like any sort of an expert, but I do have some, let’s call it, ‘field experience’.

So I thought about how I could tell a story, or otherwise say something useful to boys and younger men about their mental health.  A list of ‘to do’s’ sounded too preachy. I thought it would be too distant to get to the heart of any particular issues, from the remoteness of a blog post.

In the end, I realised all I can talk about is my story. And the first person I wish could hear my story is my younger self.

Hopefully, this might be enough to get someone else thinking and reaching some different, and better, conclusions for their life.

So if Doc Brown and Marty boomed into existence in my driveway today, the following is the letter I would ask them to deliver to my spotty, teenage self sometime in the early 1980’s.

Dear Bill,

I expect it must be weird to receive a letter from your older self. Actually, I already know that because it’s weird for me to be writing it to you.

Unfortunately, this will not be the sort of letter that the movies would show it to be – no advice of ‘Buy 5000 Apple shares when they’re at $1’ or ‘Don’t go to that party because you’ll be in a car crash’ though I will admit, taking heed of these two will help you down the track.

No, this letter is more of a heads up about the major depression that’s going to bring your life to a screaming halt shortly after your 46th birthday. It is going to rob you of your business, threaten your marriage and make you want to kill yourself. Literally.

Damn! Shit suddenly got real, didn’t it?

The bad news is that this event is already on track to happen. The good news is that with my viewpoint and your actions, you can do something about it that may eliminate or at least reduce its impact.

Here’s some observations that I wish I’d known when I was your age. What you choose to do with them is up to you.

  • It is not normal, or helpful, to constantly feel like it’s not OK to be happy. Talking with someone about this helps immensely.
  • Choosing a job or career path based only on what you’re good at, is a road doomed to end in pain. Finding the nexus where your skills and passions intersect is worth every minute of searching.
  • You are already enough as you are. You don’t need anyone else to ‘fix you’, ‘pronounce you OK’ or ‘make you complete’.
  • Time spent resting, sleeping and meditating is never wasted.
  • A mistake or a ‘failure’ is only an outcome, not a personal criticism.
  • You have friends now that you’ll still have in 30 years time.
  • It is not a good reason to keep doing something just because it’s what you’ve done before. It is ok to explore, question, and change any (or all) areas of your life. At any time. Anyone who says otherwise just wants you to live to a plan that suits them, not you.
  • It’s better to do, make, create and have experiences because they swell you up inside and make you feel whole, rather than because someone else says you should.
  • Your parent’s need for you to be a certain ‘type’ of person is just a reflection of themselves, not an iron-clad instruction.
  • Chasing the money is not where it’s at. Many people will tell you, both subtly and outright, that being busy and rich is the main goal of life. I call bullshit on this.

You are a unique person with a special sensitivity and character.

Don’t try to ignore the things that get under your skin or those that make your heart sing. Listen to them. Identify them. Understand your true nature and character and use this to shape your path in life.

Hopefully, you’ll get there faster than I did.

Would I have listened to my older self when I was your age?

Probably not, but I’m willing to bet that when you get here you’ll also wish you ‘knew then what you know now’, so maybe both of us should listen up.

Obviously, I can’t make you do anything, but I urge you to read these words and listen. With your heart.

Because both our lives depend upon it.

And I’m trusting you with mine.

Bill

I will submit this to the website that originally put out the call and, I will admit, I hope they take it.

There’s no financial reward to be had, but personal vanity would like to see it appear somewhere else on the web. I can already anticipate the satisfaction of having a piece of writing published (approved? acknowledged?) by someone else.

And then I think again, more slowly, and I know that this doesn’t even matter. What truly matters is that I have a story and I’m telling it. What other people do with it is up to them.

Is that a DeLorean I just heard?

[image source: Victor Matskevich – WallpapersWide.com]