Letter to a Younger Self
Dear Younger Paul,
Whilst there will always be a part of me that hopes you haven’t made the same blunders I have, I also know of much they’ve taught me — so if you have, I wish they imparted the same lessons to you. If there was one mistake that I candidly hope you avoid, it is the misunderstanding of time.
We often say that time is linear, but experience tells me that’s not the case. Looking back, time almost always passes too quickly, looking forward, time almost couldn’t chug by fast enough. One second in the past is worth much more than one second in the future. We almost control all facets of our life that we know for certain — what we eat, where we go, what sort of life we live, and to some extent, who we love. The one thing we know we can’t control is time. Regardless of how much we may try, the hands of time cannot be stopped, they tick on, speeding away from us before we realise they’re gone.
Because of that, I hope that you take every opportunity with open arms. I hope that every journey you embark upon is one that you will not regret. Don’t view missteps as mistakes, but rather, as opportunities to learn, to grow and to develop. Be positive, not negative. If possible, view things in the best possible way. Be appreciative of what they gave you, not bitter of what you gave them. Be thankful for what you’ve achieved and for what you have, not disappointed for missed expectations and missed opportunities. Dream big, aim high. Fall hard, but get up faster.
I say time is short, but I don’t mean that life is short — life is actually really long, but they’re made up of nuclear moments, each of which is short. The way we perceive memories is not of a continuous timeline, but rather, of disjointed and discrete bubbles, each associated with a time we hold important in our hearts — our childhood, the time we spent in high school, our first relationship, friendships come and gone. Once they’re gone, they become untouchable, etched away in some portion of our mind, but never to be lived or experienced again. I hope you know this, but more so, I hope this teaches you to love openly and freely — love with your whole heart, be generous and be kind.
If you are with someone, I hope that you love her as much as you can, for when it’s all over, sometimes you’ll just wish you loved her more when you had the chance. Take her on those cute dates and long drives, like I know you love to do. Kiss her under the stars, hold her hand and always remember to let her know how important she is. Care for her, love her, and cherish her. Even if things don’t work out, there will always be lots of time to be bitter, don’t be afraid. Always remember that every journey will teach you more about yourself and push you to be a better person.
I know you are a free spirit like me, never lose sight of that. Don’t settle for mediocrity and a textbook life. Don’t be wooed by promises of ‘success’ at the expense of genuine happiness. Take the time out to spend doing the things that genuinely make you happy. Be ambitious, and follow your dreams. Be brave, take the road not often taken. Appreciate second chances, for they are rare. Get out of your comfort zone and do something meaningful. Go to another country, make new friends, go on dates, and believe in yourself when nobody else does. Live life so that it has a meaning, love others genuinely and always remember to laugh, for you can never laugh quite enough.
You’ll probably be like me, full of contradictory thoughts — it’s almost how my (or our) mind works, so it’s befitting that I leave you with a contradiction. Don’t pay too much attention to time, don’t consume your mind with what you cannot change. Appreciate whatever you can and never regret a moment, even if it makes you sad, for you must know sadness to appreciate genuine happiness, anger to appreciate genuine tranquillity and hurt to appreciate love.
Listen to sad songs, but don’t forget to dance. Remember to cry, but don’t forget to smile. Open yourself, but never forget who you are. Be genuine, be happy, be free. Do what you love and love what you do, for the past is short, but the time for regret is long.