What I Would Tell My 14-Year-Old Self (8 Years Later)

I remember hitting the age of 14 and starting to really think about the future. I would soon be driving, making the transition to high school, girls, jobs, sports, new people, new places, etc. The world was about to open up a little to me.

I remember thinking, “life will be better when I’m driving” or “life will be much cooler and more fun when I have a girlfriend or when I am 21 and I can drink,” etc. I always had this future destination in mind where life would suddenly be better and I would be this new, different, cooler person.

If I could talk to my 14-year-old self, I would tell him that there is no destination. There is no place that you get to in life where it just magically becomes wonderful. I would tell him to stop looking forward to events with such expectations and enjoy where you are at the present moment. In the past, when I looked so forward to those ‘events’ I totally missed what was right in front of me and I can’t get it back. Simple things.

In my experience (everyone’s is totally different), the only way to be happy in life is to live with minimal expectations and enjoy the little things in the present moment or at least try to. When we get caught in this cycle of looking to the future for some expectation, it often, way too often, brings total letdown. I found when I was able to enjoy the present moment more, I somewhat lost this feeling of “I need to be somewhere else doing something more exciting than this”. This thought is a constant, nagging one for all of us that should be overcome. It is key to peace of mind. It would be hard to explain this to my younger self, but it is so important and I see that now.

In my experience, life is about experiences. Not how much money you can make, how much shit you can own, etc. When you are aware of what is going on presently, you have better (for lack of a better word) experiences because you are more present to them. If your mind is always in the future, then you miss so much. I’ll be 22 in 24 days. I try — every day — not to strive to be ‘somewhere’ financially in the future. I see so many people out of high school and college striving to make six figures a year. Their mind is almost always on this. They get to their late 30s and early 40s, hit the six figure mark, look back and realize that nothing really has changed. It becomes a letdown. There is not destination or place to ‘get to’ for you to be happy. If you think of it like that, then there will always be somewhere else to go or something else to achieve. Don’t get me wrong, goals are great, but if you make six figures then you’ll strive to make seven. It is an endless cycle.

To sum it up and stop rambling, I would try to explain to my 14-year-old self that every hour, day, week is something to enjoy. This is no practice run. It will not come around again. Don’t seek to be out of high school or in college or out of college. Right now is all you have and this right now is not going to happen again. I have adopted this thought process and noticed that I started to enjoy small things on a daily basis. I enjoy speaking to my family members on the phone, I enjoy drinking coffee and watching the sun come up in the morning. I enjoy watching it rain. I enjoy eating dinner. I enjoy being outside. This may sound stupid, but it has changed my life. When you enjoy these things and stop taking them for granted because your mind is in the future, then you begin to enjoy life as it is overall.

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