Today I wanted to write a post that is a little different, okay a lot different than my usual post. I think we’ve all been at a certain point in our lives where we look back and think, “How did life end up this way?” or “How did I get here?”. We seem to channel our inner Mark a la RENT in self reflection and more currently our inner Kate a la If/Then.
We fantasize about the ability to do what Marty McFly did in Back to the Future, to travel back in time and deliver a message to ourselves or someone else to help guid them down a different path. We think that if we can go back to the past we can fix our present, and consequently improve our future.
Let’s see, when I was 20, the year was 2001. I was a sophomore at Northern Kentucky University pursuing a degree in Theatre and working part-time for the school as a media technician in the media division of the school.
Dear 20 Year Old Jonathan:
I know this may be a shock to you, but I am you, nearly 20 years older. In the next twenty years you will have a wide variety of life experiences and you’ll have a very diverse career ahead of you. You’ll have heartache and pain, and you’ll have a wild ride of successes and failures. Here’s what I want you to know and take action on:
If theatre really is your passion and you feel like you can make a good go of it, stick with it. Find some people you trust and be vulnerable with them about how you feel and how you can improve as an actor and as a singer. Do more with it. Write your own material, take a few more classes. Seek help from your professors.
If not, then maybe you should suspend college for now and take some time to really dig into who you are and what you want to do. Experience the world and see more of it. In this you may see the very thing you know you want to do and be.
In a few years, you will have an encounter with God that will radically change your life and your behavior. You’ll be convinced that you should change your major, transfer schools, and get a degree in religion. I would caution you to not do it. Still embrace the change in you, but you don’t have to become a Bible student to make God happy with you.
If nothing changes in your life this is what will happen, you will have an encounter with God, you will change schools, change majors, and then go on from your new school to work in as many fields as possible, like factory work, politics, car sales, retail, and you’ll start to dabble in entrepreneurship and working for yourself. I want you to save yourself some heartache and trouble and take the time to explore with your friends, professors, and people you trust and find the few things you find really interesting and that you have the ability for and stick to them. Don’t fall into the trap of the “gap job”.
In many areas of your life you might settle too much. I want you to take bigger risks. Move to a new city in a new state! Take the plunge and try to make it big in NYC if you decide Theatre is your jam. If not, maybe move to Nashville, TN, start a blog or do something totally different.
Get in tune with your gut and follow it. It will serve you well in the years ahead.
Your Twenty year Older Self
What would you write to your 20 year old self? Would you give yourself the advantage of the wisdom you’ve gained over the years?
Let us know in the comments below.