About a month ago, Maggie Mason had a conversation with her 20-year-old self that resonated with those of Us who are very intrigued by meeting Previous Us. And, at least in my case, giving Previous Us a good slap.
I'm not going to say I was an idiot when I was 20, but I did drink lots of really cheap, palate-offending beer, and I did succumb to the fashion of wearing boxers that were longer than my shorts. But hey, that was forever ago! Every cell in my body has died and regenerated three times over! And with a couple decades of survival comes wisdom that Collegiate Me could have profited from. Most of Maggie's were universal, but I wanted to indulge my fatherly instincts and add a few of my own, some of which are a little more mancentric:
1. Appreciate your posse. The friendships you're making now will mean a lot to you for the rest of your life. Enjoy your friends now, so you can do lots of dumb stuff together and wistfully misremember it for decades to come.
2. If you like her, let her know. Don't fake indifference, and don't wait three days. Screw pride. At the very least she'll be flattered, and if she reacts poorly, you dodged a bullet. Regardless, it's always better to get shot down than to wonder What If.
3. But don't work too hard. The diligent romantic who "finally wins her over" is less prevalent than you think. Pursuit can be exciting, but if she scampers too far ahead, veer off.
4. Listen more. You like to be heard. When you afford others the same courtesy, you get out of your own head. You might even learn something.
5. Don't judge. Not everyone thinks the way you do, and it's narcissistic to think otherwise. If someone reacts differently than you would, think why.
6. Adapt. You're a planner from way back, and even though a plan can be a great thing, the variables in the formula are just that: variable. Everyone's schedule is unique, and doing something just because "it's the right time" is a terrible idea.
7. Embark. Dumb luck happens. Launch that shot on goal; it might just get past the keeper.
8. Embrace failure. This is a biggie. Every successful person has a string of awful in his/her past. (Before Tom Hanks won his Oscars, he made The 'Burbs.) Troughs hurt, but after you've hit one, you'll find yourself exulting more intensely when you hit a crest.
9. Don't dwell. Mistakes and misfortune will happen. Learn and press on, without beating yourself up. You're not perfect, and What's Next is always more interesting than What's Been.
10. Be patient. Not everything has to happen RIGHT NOW. You'll have to wait a bit before the Red Sox win the Series, and when they do you'll be young enough to high-five strangers until you can't feel your hands, but old enough to know that we're all just rooting for laundry.
And one to grow on:
11. Ignore the laddie bullshit. Never value yourself by where you've been, what you own, or whom you've done. The world is full of guys. Be a man.