A Conversation With My Younger Self | Mark’s Remarks

Older folks tend to stare a lot. I’ve noticed it, and now I’ve become an older person, too.  It’s not that we have decided to start doing things that are socially strange; it’s that we have become more thoughtful in our later years. We stare at people and we stare into space because we are reflecting and remembering.

When we are at end-of-the-year graduation parties, I notice younger folks running around, visiting with one another, laughing and being carefree.  Youth is fascinating to older folks because we remember, and we wonder what happened to our younger selves. We wonder why, at the time, we took youth for granted and why that part of our lives went by so quickly when all we wanted at the time was to grow up and be independent.

Have you ever thought about what you’d say to your “younger self” if you had the chance?  What if you had the chance to give some advice to that younger person, telling him how to live the next few years of life?

I went back to graduation night 1985 and remember my parents invited a few people over to the house.

However, I only made a brief appearance at that get together so I could run off and join my friends at another party.

I think I would go back and tell my younger self to hang on to family a little more. Stay at the family party and go to the friend party later, or skip the friend party altogether. After all, in a few years, younger self, there will be something called Facebook and you’ll be able to keep in touch with those friends quite easily.

Have conversations now with your grandparents and your older relatives. I wish I had.

Younger self, I’d say, make sure you appreciate the simple things in life and don’t get caught up in the daily drama.  Be happy. Turn to God for peace and pray unceasingly about everything. Don’t waste your time fretting and fussing constantly about what you can’t control. By the way, don’t feel that you have to control everything, either. It’s impossible to be perfect. You don’t have to know everything years in advance, having every little detail and have every little question answered.  If you continue constantly worrying about everything, you will eventually go nuts and wind up in therapy.  Avoid worry as much as possible and trust God. Embrace spontaneity and the curve balls life throws at you. Oh, and there are many more curveballs than home runs.

Disagree respectfully with people if you want. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t worry about taking that stand.  Don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings or making them mad. Don’t let others feelings dictate who you are. Be confident in what you want to say.  Be loving and considerate.  People will respect you for being your own person.

Avoid explaining yourself all the time. People don’t need to know your business and why you are doing what you are doing. Don’t worry so much about what others think of you.  Human beings are not as important as you think they are. Most of the time, their opinions don’t matter to you at all. Seek counsel from wise folks you trust.  But again, trust in God and seek truth through Him.

People, I’m afraid, will be one of your biggest problems. Don’t depend on them too much. Don’t expect people to fulfill your needs. Be accepting of others. Don’t be afraid to be friends with people who aren’t exactly like you. It will be impossible for you to find people just like you, and anyway, who are you? Allow others into your life and embrace the flavor they bring to your life. If you spend your time staying away from people who aren’t exactly like you (and again, who are YOU anyway?), then you will wind up all by yourself with few friends, if any.

Have more fun. Don’t be too serious. Try to find humor in everyday life. Yes, life is completely heartbreaking some times, but things change and seasons of sadness don’t last long.

Appreciate your body and your youth when you have it.  Go barefooted and bare-chested as much as possible and don’t worry if you don’t have washboard abs and big muscles. If people see you being carefree about such things, they will go barefooted and bare-chested too. Yes, go barefooted, but don’t wear shoes that pinch or hurt. You will pay for that later (Oh how I wish I could go back). Get dirty, try lots of different foods and drinks. Wear clothes that don’t match once in awhile just to aggravate the people who care about those things too much.

Don’t ever get a credit card!  Spend your money wisely and remember it’s really God’s in the first place. Don’t buy a lot of things you don’t need in order to find happiness. Don’t go into debt and don’t buy into the mantra that you will always have a car payment or always need certain things. Trust what God says in the Bible about providing for you.

“Don’t fear!” People are driven by fears, and those people are never able to truly relax. So, younger self, plan to relax sometimes!

And one more thing, younger self; you really can make a difference in this world, even if it’s just for a few people. Smile, be kind, be thoughtful, be compassionate and be loving.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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