As you grow in age, it’s natural to want to share your life experiences. Once you’ve made a mistake or two, you realize your errors and want to keep those you love from making the same missteps.
Perhaps that’s why the idea of writing to yourself is so welcomed in pop culture.
In Brad Paisley’s “Letter to Me,” there’s plenty of good advice, about hugging the people you love, listening to your parents and thanking teachers who’ve shown an interest in you. And, of course, he talks about love and love lost.
“Oh, you got to much going for you; going right; but I know at 17; it’s hard to see past Friday night,” Paisley writes.
Isn’t that the truth.
Or perhaps it’s the religious lessons from MercyMe’s “Dear Younger Me,” including the pep talk “it’s not your fault.”
“If I knew then what i know now; condemnation would’ve had no power; my joy, my pain, would’ve never been my worth,” the group sings.
But perhaps the most interesting perspective on talking to your younger self comes from an unlikely source, former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
While the Bears are my favorite team despite a few down years, Cutler was never my favorite quarterback. He had more swagger than success, and that always annoyed me. But perhaps he has a little more introspection than I gave him credit for, based on a May interview with Doug Gotlieb on Fox Sports Radio talking about the advice he’d give to his rookie self.
“I don’t think 18-year-olds, 20-year-olds, 22-year-olds are really ever going to take all the advice in the world that their future self would give them,” Cutler said.
He’s likely right. Those formative years are formative because we strike out on our own and make the mistakes that make us who we are.
I keep trying to remind myself of this as I try to be a good dad to a teenager. I see the folly in some of her plans and ideas. Could that be because I made the same mistakes at her age? Would I have even listened if someone tried to warn me?
If we took the safe path every day, we’d never learn the negative consequences of the other path. We’d open ourselves up to the pain of making those mistakes later in life too.
Sometimes those mistakes turn out OK, as Paisley recalls in “Letter to Me.”
“And when you get a date with Bridget; make sure the tank is full,” he wrote. “On second thought forget it, that one turns out kinda cool.”