I have seen a recent blogging trend where certain high profile industry people (all industries) ask themselves the question, “What would I tell my 22 year old self?” I have read a few and it is interesting that so many say essentially the same things that I would love to be able to tell myself.
This sounds like it has very little to do with the reflections of an ageing ham, but let me assure you, it has everything to do with those reflections.
When I was 22, I was taking my time studying Computing Science at Curtin University. I think it was that same year when a senior lecturer, and a very good friend, advised me to consider switching courses to one that would enable me to take on more creative and humanitarian subjects. It might have been the year before. Regardless, I took his advice and started taking on units like Theatre Arts, Creative Writing, Philosophy and Theology and so forth.
However, I was still plagued by thoughts from other people that I had let swim within my own. Thoughts that were counter-productive to my aspirations and dreams. Thoughts that asked me to be more practical, conservative and cautious. Thoughts that I allowed to influence my decisions.
The thing with Dreams is if they are fuelled by a deep passion, they never really die. You can fight, squash, put aside, and reprogram yourself as much as you like. They will never truly leave because a dream is about what you, as a person, really want. The rest is what you, and others, tell you you should want. So while I chose to listen to these foreign ideas, something raged inside.
It was many years later, when one of the biggest voices that I had retained in my mind, suddenly changed his mind… in real life. Talking with one of my biggest influences (for better and worse) they said that they ‘regretted not helping me with my dreams when I was younger. Who knows where I might be had they supported me, rather than caution me.’
This had an immense effect on me. It released something inside that I knew I had been struggling with for years. My passion. Something I had tried hard to “contain”, which had been slowly gathering strength and leaking through the gaps, burst forth in an emotional wave. Ever since, I have felt years younger and energised, and somewhat more frustrated as well.
I’m not sure if the person I talk about above knows the effect his simple words had on me. Maybe not, but I have since imagined what might have come about had those words been expressed years before, or even if the intention behind the words had been acted upon in my youth.
While the original concepts had the effect to smother my aspirations, it was my personal choice to let them. I do not, and cannot blame another for what I chose to take on board. I did it to appease someone else, not because I wanted to. That was the choice I made, and the problem I faced. Had I know that one day…
So what would I say to my 22 year old self? I would tell him to let go, follow your heart, take risks big and small, listen to your dreams, and that one day, one day, he changes his mind.