If I were turning 20

I’m nearly 30. I wrote on facebook about a sign I saw that said “I don’t have birthdays. I level up.” This has been true. After my 30th birthday I will get published, go on a mission trip to Guatemala (and learn how to spell it without spell check), do Tough Mudder, weigh as much as I did freshman year of college, and be buff. I would love to say ripped, but as time goes I don’t see it in the cards. I’ll take being called a bear instead of an underwear model. I’ve been informed numerous times shaving your chest is really itchy if you don’t keep up. Since I don’t keep up with my beard, I’m highly doubting I’ll keep up with my arms, legs, chest, and back. Just isn’t happening. Stomach, you ask? No, I’d keep that. It’d be a reminder of where I was. I kid.

So someone commented, “That’s right, your birthday is coming up!” I replied, yes, it’s that time of year again and I get to be 30. I called it crap and such, and was ready to move on when she asked, “Why is that crap?” Simple. I’m not 20. “Who would want to be 20 again?” You can tell someone’s not close to 30 when that’s their thinking. I realized there was a good deal of wisdom bestowed upon me in this past decade. As my gift to you, I wish to share it. I know those who are younger won’t listen to a word I say. Those who are older will chuckle and say I have more where that came from, and I will not listen to a lick of what they say. Why? It comes down to this: people are stupid. That was a freebie. So here is my list of things I’d do differently if I were still 20.

1) Get published. Sure it would have been harder, but it would have likely been more rewarding. I never sat down and just dedicated myself to a story. Video games, (emotionally abusive) women, friends, hot women I’d never meet, role playing games, and a dozen other things which were not at all related to learning or making money got in my way. In college you have volumes of free time. And it was pissed away. I already knew I was passionate about writing. I had the foundation for the world I’m writing about now. Through a half dozen ex-girlfriends I came up with the pieces. Sure it was ripped from my soul, but it’s amazing how profitable a shredded soul is. Guess what’s not profitable? That’s right, a pristine one. If I had gotten published at 20, successfully mind you, it wouldn’t be such a dog eat world for me. I’d be established to some degree. My ultimate tale? Find your love and do it during those years. Put your nose to that grindstone and if nothing comes of it, it should have been at least fun. If something does, quit school and get rich. Or at least finish and make a modest living doing something you’re happy to do nearly every day.

2) Work out every day. I scoffed at it and now here I am. I drank nearly 24 cans of Code Red or Mountain Dew a week. I’d go through withdrawals when I went home for long weekends. Currently I’m working my butt off (or starting to again) to get in shape. It’s much harder than if I started a decade ago. I can’t get ripped, as stated, but I can at least be healthy. I want my kids to look at me and my old pictures from around six months ago, and then go, “Dad, you were fat.” And I’d say, “Yes I am. You don’t want to be like that. It sucks.” I want them to never know what it’s like to get winded after three stair cases. Unless of course they make it onto that American Ninja show and they’re dodging fiery doom or spears or something. Then they can be winded after three stair cases.

3) Eat healthy. This goes back to the soda. The white bread. The copious amounts of meat. I have started back into soda, but I’ll kick that addiction soon. I just need to regulate my sleeping and then I can go caffeine free again. I really actually prefer pumping no caffeine in me. If I get a good night sleep, I feel just fine and I know there’s no caffeine in me.

4) Play fewer video games and focus more on what I did play. I have to admit, there are some games that really gave me an amazing appreciation for history, literature, the art of video games, etc. I was inspired, I learned, and then long after that, or games that did no such thing, I continued to play until 3am when I had an 8am class. I could have been writing, doing homework, flirting. Successfully. I flirted a lot and I became a lot of people’s brother.

5) Read more. I rarely read anything in its entirety. I was an English and creative writing major. Think on this. I skimmed. I got bored. I moved on to video games. I didn’t start truly reading the classics until a couple years ago. I think my last year of college is when I first truly used the library for fun. Now I have a lot of books to catch up on. The concepts, writing styles, etc., from the old writings has been an amazing influence and it’s really guided me. We keep reading modern pulp, but the real stuff you want are the books people are still reading after a hundred to two hundred years.

6) Pick my girlfriends more wisely or swear them off overall. I’ve had some really bad relationships. It’s not just the women, but my decisions in who to date. A few have been immensely good for my growth and a few only taught me I’m overly emotional. On the other hand, each and every one has inspired a character, book, scene, story, and without those I’d be nowhere. The Devotion of Kelst and Ayne would not be in the works. I would have never thought of it. Kotoji’s life would be a lie. Both simply exist because a girl I dated was having a bad day so I wrote a whimsical story to cheer them up and soon they took on a life of their own. Kelst and Ayne have an entire life together in a fictional world. One of the most uplifting and crushing stories I’ve ever written. So I’m really unsure on this one. A part of me would prefer it, and a part of me is happy for the experiences, at least a few of them. One gave me the greatest year of my life to date. Just working on making it so I can give me a year too.

7) Drink more water. I’m sure this could go under eat healthy, but goodness, just drinking more water has helped immensely.

8) Go on adventures. Just strike out. I plan on doing that more and more often, especially now that I have a car that isn’t at risk of breaking down any second.

9) Keep my environment cleaner. I’m moving into a new apartment in a couple months and I want it to stay clean. I started too late where I currently am. This is a very recent development, but I like it.

10) Be more devoted to Christ. I was a Christian, but I wasn’t very devoted. I didn’t usually go out of my way. Now I’m trying to change that.

11) Casually date. I don’t want to anymore, but the online dating has introduced me to numerous amazing women that it’s been fun to get to know. I’ve had good company and really I don’t mind at all it’s never gone past a dinner or bowling trip. I’ve met a lot of fascinating people, and I wish I had the confidence to meet people more when I was 20. Still working on the confidence, but definitely better.

That’s what I can think of. It’s weird. I’m turning 30. I thought so long about this day as a distant abstract. As some concept far away that would never happen. I suppose another would be get married! That’ll be epic. But it’s a wish at this point. I suppose if I hit 40 without having done it, I can say that’s why 40 is epic! 😉 If I hit 50, I’m just assuming God meant for me to dedicate my life to Him. Become a monk or something.

Anyway, I went on a good run today. I’m jelly. I have to wake up early tomorrow for a long trip. God’s peace to you all and enjoy your day. With any luck you’ve made the most of the years you’ve had and you’ll never be able to make a list like this. But knowing people, we all have a list like this. And man did I enjoy Dew.

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7 responses to “If I were turning 20

  1. Great list. I’m a few years late from the 20 mark, but reading this made me look within and feel proud that I have been doing at least some of these things. You’ve added some where more attention could be given, too, that I haven’t thought of as much. Thanks.

  2. For me, everything got better after I turned 30. I stopped feeling like I hadn’t done enough, etc., and started to recognize the race I had kept myself in through my twenties.

    A short list of why I’m glad to be in my 30s (I never made a list of 20s–never had a desire to go back):
    1. Sex is better for a few different reasons, some of them physical at the age and some of them communication.
    2. You can be in rocking shape–my six pack is back and I don’t have to worry about having any more babies to make it go away again.
    3. I don’t sweat the small stuff. By the third child I didn’t hold on so tightly, even willing to rent them out for the weekends. Did the same with other stuff, like dreams, and gave God some room to do his work.
    4. I recognize that men have body hair, not boys. In short, body hair–full man status, no body hair–child.
    5. I met Paul and Len on WordPress. I’m 36. There was no opportunity for this to happen in my 20s.
    6. If I had realized all of my 20s dreams in my 20s, my life would have been different, I would have been different, and because I like myself, I’m really glad things have worked out the way they have.

    Long response really just to make one point–I like you as you approach 30, not so sure I would have liked you as much when we both would have been younger, but we’ll never know, right? 😉

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