A friend recently asked: "If you could say anything to the 20-year-old version of YOU... what would you say to yourself?"
This is my reply:
"You will not believe this, but trust me. You are a repressed 18th Century gentleman. Put down that can of pepper spray; I'm serious here.
"I know your freshman history class was a major drag, but you're not learning it the right way. I want you to check out Williamsburg. Just go. You didn't really get it when you went there with Mom and Dad and your brother in 1986, but I think you will now. You have this quiet idealism about you, something inside that makes you want to believe things are really better than everybody else says that they are. You need to be in a place were people celebrate what's good about life and living in a free country, regardless of what people are grousing about around MU right now. Two words: living history. I want you to find people who enjoy doing that and ask how they got into it.
"Remember how you told your girlfriend Jessica that you would like to go to a costume ball one of these days? I want you to find one and go for it. Dress up in the finest Colonial outfit you can rent: long coat, knee socks, tricorn, the whole smack. You know you want to do it, but you don't because you're afraid what happened to you in middle school will happen again. You think a lady -- especially one your age -- will never love you because you're too out of touch with everyone else. I am telling you're wrong, and it's because you haven't found the right circle of friends who are focused on the right things.
"Remember when you were just beginning your sophomore year, and some folks from one of the campus ministries invited you to a moonlight game of Capture the Flag? You went and you liked it. Then they invited you to church. You shoulda gone. Well, it's not too late. I want you to know this: GOD loves you. HE always does. Even if you don't notice it. HE'S trying to get through to you through a back channel.
"I want you to go back to church, not just any church, but the right church. Those Presbyterians are good people, but they're not addressing the questions you have. They're a PC and you're a Mac. Well, yeah, you're more like an Commodore Amiga, but you get it. Find a youth church with people your age who are seeking and need answers to the way GOD really works. When you were 13, you took a confirmation class and wrote a credo to become an official Presbyterian, but it didn't help you a lick spiritually. All it did was give you a lesson on how to flatter the right people. But more than that, I'm telling you there's a difference between going to church and having a right relationship with GOD. If you stay on your present course, you're going to be in your 30's before somebody explains that to you. Then they're going to pray with you outside a fast-food joint in Phoenix. Don't ask questions, man, just hear me out.
"Keep pursuing that journalism degree, but I want you to think hard about the TV business and what it could do to you. You're still in college. You've got options. Broaden your career menu and see what else is out there besides something network-affiliated. I'm not saying you're about to make a bad career choice; I'm just saying there will come a time when you wonder whether you chose a career that really fit you or not. I think if you start whetting your appetite for history and getting back to GOD, you're going to see things in a whole new way, and that's going to have you rethinking your day job. Have no fear: you can still be successful and make good money, but you'll have more satisfaction.
"Back to your girlfriend. Don't let other people dictate your love life. I know they don't now, so don't change your mind. If you start going back to church and hanging out with people who really know what's going on in your heart, that proverbial "right girl" will find you. Even if she doesn't, don't worry. I am telling you will derive much pleasure from being GOD's unmarried servant, and in doing so, you will realize that what the world defines as love is sorely lacking.
"I've got to warn you about some quirks that are going to happen when you follow all of this advice. You are going to start wearing three-cornered hats in public. You're going to start bowing to people. Don't let other people make you think it's weird. They're the ones into the grunge scene and the angst of youth. Where do these people get off defining normal? You seem to enjoy being this nonconformist. So be nonconformist in a positive direction. That tricorn is a symbol of revolution, right? So have your own revolution. Be the change you'd like to see in other people.
"There's a lot I could reveal to you about what will happen, good and bad, but it's pointless to tell you about it now because your decisions from this point forward will alter the timelines and create this alternate reality that I pray will be better than the one you're currently traveling on. Remember that scene in Back To The Future Part II where Doc is explaining the rift in the time-space continuum and how things got all messed up. For Marty it was a bad thing, but for you it's a better thing because I'm telling you how to avoid doing some of the things you wish people would've warned you about at this time in your life.
"I'm not going to save you from your mistakes because that's impossible. You don't have to be afraid about anything. You just have to realize it's time to be the person GOD designed you to be."