5 Things I Would Tell My 21-Year-Old Self

Monday, March 18, 2019

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Disrupt Aging from AARP. All opinions are my own.
5 Things I Would Tell My 21-Year-Old Self

Do you realize that 1999 was twenty years ago? TWENTY YEARS AGO! I'm not lying, do the math. When I think of 1999, I like to tell myself it was six or seven years ago tops. in 1999 I was twenty-one-years old, dating my future wife, finishing college, and not entertaining any of the thoughts that consume my mind today. I had endless passion and energy, could function on two hours of sleep, and could eat as much spicy food as I desired with zero regrets the next morning.  However, what I lacked was the wisdom that comes with life experience.

The thing is, I don't really feel much older than I did in my twenties. Except when I sleep on the wrong pillow and wake up paralyzed and unable to look left for the first half of the day. It is then that I remember that I'm in my forties now. Besides that, there are many things that I know now that I wish my younger self was more aware of. Here are five things that I wish that I could tell my twenty-one year old self to help Disrupt Aging.

5 Things I Would Tell My 21-Year-Old Self

1. You can't eat like that forever.
When I was in college I could eat an entire pizza, double bacon cheeseburgers at 1am in the morning, or ice cream sundaes every night of the week and not feel a bit of remorse. Sometime in my early thirties my body decided to stage a revolt against me, and instead of magically processing those foods out of it, my stomach decided to turn everything I ate into fat and store it away for me for later use.

The interesting thing is now that I'm older, I'm much more aware of what I put into my body each day and most of the time try to make better food choices. In my 40's I actually feel much healthier now and actually weigh less as well!

5 Things I Would Tell My 21-Year-Old Self

2. Spend more time with your dad.
When you are younger, your father is one of the strongest men you know. He seems invincible, or at least that's what I thought. At a relatively young age my dad was suddenly diagnosed with cancer and died two months later. It was a whirlwind time, but I was blessed to be able to spend many extra hours with him in the middle of the storm. At one point, I was debating whether to leave an important work trip early to go be with him after he took a downturn. My doctor friend told me, "I have never met anyone who regretted going to spend more time with their loved ones when they were at the end of their life." That is when I went home from the trip to go be with my dad. It ended up being the last time I heard him speak.

We never know how much time is left so I would tell my younger self to go spend more of it with dad. Every extra hour is worth it. By the way, do you know what my dad's last words to me were? He was in his hospice bed at his house and he leaned over with all of the energy he could muster and whispered, "I love you." I'll never forget it.

5 Things I Would Tell My 21-Year-Old Self

3. Don't stop taking risks.
When I was younger I was always excited about the adventures that lay ahead. Somewhere along the way though it becomes easier to get complacent and comfortable. The great thing about getting older is that I actually appreciate the wonder that surrounds me on a deeper level. In my late thirties we packed up our family, moved to the midwest where we knew no one, changed careers, and have made tons of memories. It was nerve wracking, but there is no way I would change that hard decision.

I once knew an older retired man who decided one day that he was going to spend most of his time on cruise ships sailing around the world, teaching dance lessons to cruise passengers. So that's what he did, and he loved it! I want to embrace adventure like he did, no matter what stage of life I'm in.

5 Things I Would Tell My 21-Year-Old Self

4. Always make time to have fun with your kids.
At 21-years-old I didn't have kids. I was married at 23 and the kids came four years after that. However, you can always start to get yourself into that mindset. I've never looked back at time with my kids and thought, "that was not time well spent." However there are plenty of days, doing other things, where I have no idea what I did with my time and no lasting memories were made. No matter how old you get, your kids will need you, and they will need to have fun with you.

Hopefully sometime down the line my grandkids will feel the same way. There are studies that say that grandparents who spend significant time with their grandkids are healthier in mind and body. Just because you get older doesn't mean life with kids gets any less enjoyable, in fact it gets more so because you can always hand your crying, pooping grandkids back to their parents!

5 Things I Would Tell My 21-Year-Old Self

5. Your problems probably aren't as big as you think they are.
One of the best things about getting older is that you have time and perspective when things don't go as planned. Something always breaks, finances fall through, relationships don't work out, and when you're younger you can feel like your life is being blown apart.

Twenty years down the road I have the experience to know that you will recover, the hurt will heal, and another job will come along. You remember how you made it through the first time, and use what you learned to survive it again. Age tells you that these life problems are only a speed bump on the way to the next great season in life.

If I had more time with my 21-year-old self I would probably tell him other nuggets of wisdom that I've picked up along the way like life is too short for bad coffee, and there really is no light at the end of the tunnel for your favorite football team. However, these five points would be where I would start help disrupt aging in that conversation. To find out more about how how you can help refresh the conversation surrounding aging, go to www.disruptaging.org or follow #DadsDisruptAging on social media! 


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