Dear Jordan, Listen to your 38-year-old self:
Take school seriously. Even though school was never hard for you, challenge yourself to retain as much information as possible and not just temporarily memorize and get by.
As an old man, your lack of understanding about how America works is alarming. Study American politics in high school and in college, so when you get older you have at least a basic knowledge of what’s going on in the world, and you won’t feel like you have to sit out every conversation about it.
When your dad is fixing things, doing projects, or outside working, join him. Ask him all sorts of questions. Make him show you everything. Use his tools. Get in there, get your hands dirty, and do some of the work yourself so it feels familiar and becomes repetitive.
When your mom or dad is in the kitchen cooking meals, offer to help. Offer to cook once a week and learn what ingredients go well with what foods. Learn what is easy to prepare and what is hard.
Every time you get paid for anything—work, birthdays, graduation, gifts, etc—put 10% of it in a savings account you won’t touch.
Respect money. What you recklessly spend on stuff you don’t need will take hours of hard work to earn back later in life. Remember that a 20 dollar bill takes some people three hours at their job to earn.
Practice being more defiant in everyday life. Get in the habit of always making a decision. Even if it’s about something small. If somebody asks you if you want an apple or an orange don’t say ‘whichever’ or ‘I don’t care’. Pick one. Be defiant. More is lost from indecision than wrong decision.
Always respect women. Don’t look down on them. Don’t leer at them. Don’t view them as inferior or as the lesser sex. Not even for a second. One day you will meet a stubborn, strong woman and ask her to marry you. Spend as much time around strong, passionate women as possible right now…Women who aren’t just going to tell you what you want to hear all the time, but rather what they think you should hear.
You had a good childhood. Understand millions of people didn’t. Never forget, not everyone grew up the way you did.
If your dad ever asks you to go play golf, drop everything, cancel your plans, and do it. Never miss a chance to play golf with your dad. One day you’ll move to a city 1200 miles away, start a family, have bigger obligations, and not have that chance.
Always keep writing. Don’t put writing on the shelf for 15 years. Write, at least in some capacity, everyday for the rest of your life.
High school popularity means nothing.
Friendship takes work. Be willing to put in the time with the ones who are worth it. Never take the Tyson’s, Van’s, T$’s, Ryan’s, Hanson’s, Bob’s, Curt’s, TK’s, and Megan’s of the world for granted.
Do all sorts of crazy shit with your hair. Experiment with different styles, lengths, colors, etc. Starting in your mid 20’s you’ll no longer have that option.
When you first learn to play poker, do it online for free or somewhere live where it is extremely low-limit. Don’t learn the game of poker playing with big money. That’s usually going to be an expensive lesson for you.
Learn how to play chess.
Watch sports casually. Root for your team to win but don’t weigh it with so much importance. If the Vikings win, great. If not, no big deal. There’s always next week or next year. This will add years to your life.
Learn your way around a sailboat.
And you should have been a school-teacher. They get summers off.