Dear 23-year-old Dan,
Man. Your hair is way longer right now than you’ll be keeping it in 10 years.
I have a lot to say to you, so get comfortable. You’ll need it, because this might get uncomfortable.
Marry Stacia. That’s the best decision you could ever make. That goes without saying.
That job you’re about to take is almost going to kill you. That’s ok. You’ll survive. And it will teach you something.
The next few years are going to be extremely lonely.
You’re going to make it. But sometimes it’s going to feel like you’re just barely making it.
Go to therapy. Spoiler alert: you’ll decide to go to therapy in a few years, but you should start sooner. I know a guy. I’ll send you his number.
Learn to care for yourself and learn to care for yourself during depression.
Create things. You’re happiest when you’re creating, and people always seem to benefit from what you create.
Don’t just create things, build a creative habit. You make such great things, but you won’t make great things unless you set aside the time to do it. Inspiration will come from time to time, but most great things are made by sitting down and struggling with them.
Don’t worry about not fitting in where you are. Your time is better spent making your own way.
Put what little money you have into stock in Facebook and Apple. In fact, get a loan and put it into stock in Facebook and Apple.
It’s ok that you don’t know what you want to be doing with your life right now. Though your next few years are going to be difficult, they’re teaching you what you need to know to discover your true work and true self.
Nothing is wasted. Even though things will be hard, what you’re about to learn will shape the rest of your life.
Learn boundaries as soon as possible. A lot of people are going to be asking things of you and you’re going to end up spread too thin.
Learn to say no, even when it’s hard.
It’s easy for me to wish that I’d have done things differently. I wish I’d started out on my own at a younger age. I wish I would have embraced my creative side sooner. I wish I would have told off a certain professor before graduating. I wish I would have known everything I know now. But I didn’t. And I couldn’t have. So, younger self, instead I want to say that I’m proud of who you are and who you are becoming.
You’re a fighter. You’re an idealist.
Take your art seriously. Create in a way that others can see what you make and interact with you around it. (You like to feel seen, but it’s also scary.)
Start writing your thoughts publicly as soon as you can. Building a blog is going to take a long time.
You can make up a job for yourself. That’s ok.
I’m proud of who you are and who you are becoming.
Learning to be grateful for where you’ve been is a necessary part of finding freedom to move forward. In my one-on-one work, I often have clients write letters like this. It’s a way to help you understand why you may feel stuck or lost in finding your life purpose. It helps bring and understanding that though your past has shaped you but does not own you. It helps you come to terms with your story.
The more open and honest the letter is, the better.
Your challenge, if you choose to accept it: write a letter to a younger version of yourself and post a link in the comments.