Things 40 year old me would tell the 20 year old me

Recently I was fortunate to sit down with an old friend from high school and we talked about what which things we would have loved to tell ourselves when we were younger. Not necessarily because we didn’t do them but because of sharing our more seasoned perspectives on life in general and which things that had the most impact on ourselves as people.

I decided to write my things down and share.

“You don’t know everything.”

It goes without saying. When I was younger I felt I was perfect and was never wrong about anything. I was more focused on “winning an argument” rather than discover what my counterpart was trying to say. Saying: “Ok you’re right” was a hard thing for me and it goes hand in hand with me being so competitive. But I would say that to myself definitely, that the learning is what matters. And winning an argument rarely results in any learning whatsoever. So just skip it.

“Appreciate others.”

It is important to notice others and praise them for their achievements. Emphasising your own is complete crap and makes you look like an ass. Let others tell you when you’ve done something good instead. And in the end, that is the only thing which matters. So, noticing other people and focusing on being there for their growth is a great thing.

“Treat everyone with respect”

Some people are different than you are. Some might come from different cultures and some might have a certain kind of personality because of something they are going through. Everyone are equally good and important in our society. Embrace the difference in people and be versatile of whom you interact with. Those who give you different input from what you’re used to, is actually those who will open your eyes more. Be open.

“Don’t work all the time.”

Life is short. Live it. Don’t work it away. Sure kid, you like career and have ambitious plans. It’s ok. You can keep them. Ambition is not bad as long as it isn’t destructive or makes you cynical of others. But being a person and having “depth” is about far more than putting in hours at the office. And being a person is going to have a higher impact on your career than any hour you’ll ever put in at the office – ever.

“Use your imagination.”

Be creative. Don’t be afraid to use your fantasy and experiment with things that challenge your mind. Being able to think outside the box is imperative and will indefinitely impact you as person.

“Dare to be different.”

Don’t strive for being like everyone else. Strive for being true to yourself. Key to success is to love the image you look at in the mirror and you’ll never love someone living a lie. Others opinions of you doesn’t matter. Your self respect matters. Because that self respect is what will help you create what you believe in and then others opinions will be about what you create nonetheless.

“Set a target. Plan. Work hard.”

Nothing comes for free. It’s just how it is. And everything is reachable as long as you work hard and know what you’re aiming for.

“Have fun”

Smile. Laugh a lot. Do things that excite you. Dedicate time to be with those you cherish. Always be there for your friends. Have hobbies and dedicate them time. Play with your kids when you get them. Don’t accept boring jobs. Turn them into your hobbies and have fun always. Life is short.

“Follow your values.”

Always do what is the right thing to do. Never go against what you believe in because you feel you “have to”. You never have to go against your beliefs. You always have a choice. Let them guide you in everything you do.

“Dare to speak up.”

Don’t become one of the silent observers who just accept when things go to hell. When others act in a way which you believe to be completely imprudent, unfair or unreasonable, then speak up. Dare to show the way for others around you and inspire them to dare following their own values. Dare to speak up against injustice and prejudism based on fear such as racism, religious barriers to women’s rights or whatever other area you believe in. It is important. Never ever stop. Ever.

Now the question is. What would 20 year old me say to the 40 year old me? We will never know, will we?

Thanks for reading.

Daniel Sonesson