Throwing Resolutions To Your Past Selves



Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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48 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    From age 1-10ish: Dude. *SERIOUSLY*, try to get into the habit of cleaning your room. Just *TRY*.
    From age 11-20ish: Dude. Get a job and then get a POS car. As soon as you can.
    From age 21-30ish: Dude. Spend more time learning Linux. Buy a book and read it for fun. You will eventually find reading these things to be entertaining in their own right. Move that up a couple of years.
    From age 31-40ish: Dude. Bitcoin. The next time you hear this word in the public domain, buy some. I understand that it will feel like flushing money down the toilet and so I probably won’t get you to dump more than $200 dollars or so on them. But definitely dump that $200 on them as soon as you hear about them.
    To age 41: Dude. Write that children’s book you’ve been thinking about.Report

    • Avatar Pyre says:

      Your 31-40 advice is the same as tossing lotto numbers to the past. You could just as easily have said:

      1991: Toss as much money into Marvel’s stock as you possibly can then grovel to your parents and friends for more money to throw at the stock. The 1993 boom and 1997 bankruptcy will test your resolve but, when Disney buys Marvel in 2009, you’ll be able to make hats out of money.Report

  2. The problem is that, as terrible as some decisions I’ve made have been, advising my younger self to choose differently would lead to my not knowing so many people I’ve known and loved that it’s kind of impossible for me to choose it. Like, “go to this school instead of that one” and “apply to this residency as per your professor’s enthusiastic recommendations” may have been the better choices, but then I wouldn’t have made the friendships I did around my real-life choices, and it’s hard to want that.

    The one unambiguous piece of advice I’d give is to my 20s self — “No good will come from returning that call from [person]. Let it go.”

    I have tons more advice for myself at that age, but that would exceed the maximum limits.Report

    • Russell,

      I agree with you about bad choices leading in some ways to outcomes I wouldn’t trade. For example, ten and a half years ago I made what was at the time (for a lot of reasons) the very poor choice to get my PHD, but I met the person who became my wife.Report

    • Avatar rexknobus says:

      Incredible irony, indeed. So many wrong decisions; so much luck. Came to the realization a while ago that most of what I tried to do, I blew, and most of what happened to me, was terrific. Low skill score; but an amazingly high luck score. So I have to live with the regrets, and feel a bit guilty about all that I have that I truly do not deserve — and pay karma back by appreciating every minute of it.

      At the moment the only advice I’d send to a previous me is “For God’s sake, fly to London and see Miller and Cumberbatch on two successive nights in ‘Frankenstein.’ Idiot!” (If that’s all I can come with, I guess life is good. Still…idiot.)Report

      • Avatar rexknobus says:

        -chuckle- “All I can come with” My luck holds even in my typos. 😉

        I’ll break trump here and actually put forth an New Year’s Resolution: Spend more time with the League at “Ordinary Times” and be enriched by the experience. Thanks, folks! A very Happy New Year to All!Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        So many wrong decisions; so much luck. Came to the realization a while ago that most of what I tried to do, I blew, and most of what happened to me, was terrific.

        I have been listening to this a LOT. For a rock song, it’s pretty Zen:

        From the lyrics:

        But nothing ever stays the same
        Nothing’s explained
        The stronger the wind, the faster we’ll fly
        ‘Cause this is it for all we know
        So say good night to me
        And lose no more time
        No time
        Resisting the flow
        Resisting the flow
        Resisting the flow


    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I’ve no doubt that if I stayed in Michigan and graduated from the U of M and got a job doing IT in the Upper Penninsula somewhere, I’d be delighted with my life, I’d have it filled with friends, and I’d say that I probably can’t imagine life being better… but there are so many different forks that lead to similarish places:
      Decent enough job, good friends, fulfilling off-time life.

      But, in every case, I know that my life would be better off if I had gotten into the habit of cleaning my room.

      So is there advice that will make your life better no matter what, even if you’re thinking that you want to stay on this particular branch of it?

      I mean, besides not returning that one phone call. Whew. We’ve all got one of those.Report

      • Oh, sure. But I thought I was only allowed one thing per decade! And if I had only one thing, it would be the phone call.

        If allowed, then also the following to my 20s self:

        “Study, you arrogant bastard. Like, for real. Not the half-assed, just-enough gesture you pretend is studying. Study.”

        “This apartment is a disgrace. Get organized.”

        “Nobody is impressed by your constant sarcasm, and everyone recognizes it’s a transparent defense mechanism.”

        “You were not to the manner born. Stop pretending, and live within your means. Learn to cook.”

        “You will never have a better time to run as much as you want. I realize that you do not actually have an interest in running at this time. But your later self will really love running and will wish he had the time to do it that you now do.”

        “For the love of God, do not return the phone call from [person].”Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      My last ex-girlfriend was perpetually disappointed with her life. She regularly engaged in the sort of bemoaning that spoiled folks do when all they can think about is what they don’t have instead of what they do have. To the point that she would often say, “I wish I had gone to Stamford instead of BC.” “But if you went to Stamford, you and I never would have met.” “If it was meant to be, we would have found a way.” “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

      I tend to avoid that type of thinking. I don’t even regret having dated her, despite how wrong we were for each other and how terrible it made the 6 or so months after our breakup. Because if I hadn’t been miserable for those 6 or so months, I might not have been ready to get back out there on that fateful night I met Zazzy.

      There might be little things… “Don’t have that 14th shot… you’ll regret it in the morning” or “Finish that book… it gets really good.” But those are simultaneously too many and too minor for me to really ferret out.

      Even our home purchase, which is turning out to have been the wrong call, I wouldn’t undo. We would probably not have had Mayo had we still been renting and that is not a decision I regret in the least.Report

  3. Avatar Pinky says:

    My most interesting one would be for thirty years ago: drop out of college and don’t go back until you figure out what you want to do.Report

  4. Avatar Damon says:

    Me a few days ago: Dude, totally remove the invoice from that shipping box of sexy clothing you gave your girlfriend so she won’t be able to check it and see that you actually bought the stuff before you’d even met her.


    • You’ve had sexy clothing laying around for longer than you’ve been going out with your girlfriend?

      Sooooo many questions, not least of which is how did you happen to get the right size?Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Now that is an interesting story.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Dude, you are either going to be hearing about this for a loooooooooong time, or you are soon to never hear about it again. Here’s hoping it’s the first!Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Inquiring minds wish to know D-man!Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        I was dating a woman and I bought her some sexy lingerie. Before it arrived, via mail order, she broke up with me. I held on to it and when I began dating “gal most recent” I gave it to her. It was unopened. Sadly, I left the invoice in the box so the new gal figured out that I’d purchased said item before meeting her. That identifed the “white lie” I told, that I’d purchased it for her while she was away on vacation. Now I’ve been called out as a “deceiver”. I think that pretty much answers Burt’s question too. 🙂Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Advice to myself in my younger years: The book will still be there later, so go out and play.

    Advice to myself in my teen years: Girls don’t like it when you’re timid.

    Advice to myself in my twenties: If it smells bad, walk away from it.

    Advice to myself in my thirties: Fire the clients who don’t pay, faster.

    Advice to myself now: The book is still there. Make the time to read it.Report

  6. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I’d tell my high school self to do less homework, think about whether you’re on a good path toward a stable, prosperous adulthood less, try to force yourself to be more outgoing in school, put more of your all into being some kind of an athlete (because it would prove to you that you could be one if you wanted, which is something that would open up worlds to your later self, and because it would just generally be god for you physically and personally), and just generally try to live in the now and identify your bliss more, because credentials earned in high school don’t matter, but learning who you are earlier rather than later so that you can pursue your true passions it in your twenties rather than forties really does. My high school self wouldn’t have been able to implement many of those resolutions, but those are the ones I’d give him.Report

  7. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Did I hit them all?

    Why not just lump them all together and write the Great American Children’s book about how to quit smoking and exercise more?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      A heartwarming tale of a little girl going for a walk after dinner with her father. He’s vaping and telling her the story of how he learned to play an instrument, when they get back home, she agrees that she wants to learn to play an instrument too.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      While making millions of dollars in real estate.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Let’s see… The really safe bit of advice would be “Go out to eat more often before the baby is born.” The really dangerous suggestion would be “Take the job with Intel in 1978.”Report

  9. Avatar veronica dire says:

    1 – 10: It’s okay to be alone; keep reading and dreaming.

    11 – 20: You don’t realize this yet, but you’re a girl, and that’s why nothing makes sense. Someday you’ll transition, but for now keep you head above water. Stay away from drugs, that whole culture. Stay away from violent men. Stay in school.

    21 – 30: Stay in school. Find other trans people. Talk to them.Report

    • Avatar ktward says:

      Excellent advice for every girl! Even the ones who are fortunate enough to be born with female plumbing.

      (For the dudes born with the wrong plumbing … pretty much all the same thing except for the “you’re a girl” part.)Report

  10. Avatar KenB says:

    < 10: normal people bathe/shower and change their clothes every day — you should emulate this even though your parents aren't teaching you to.
    10-19: there are dozens of girls you could be perfectly happy to be dating — stop fixating on the one unattainable girl and ignoring everyone else
    20-29: dude, seriously — Slavic linguistics?? You're just running away from adulthood, get a real job.
    30-39: If you stay in this job much longer, you're never going to be able to leave without a serious pay cut, and it'll never be the right time to do that.
    40-49: stop worrying about what you didn't do and about what other people have that you don't — you've got a very nice life.Report

    • That last one is invaluable at any age.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “< 10: normal people bathe/shower and change their clothes every day — you should emulate this even though your parents aren't teaching you to."

      I used to put more effort into tricking my mom into thinking I showered than it would have taken to actual showering. I'd run the water, spend 15 minutes in the bathroom, even wet my hair a little bit. But nothing could mask the smell of a dirty 8-year-old.Report

  11. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    1-10: Don’t hurry the potty training; society will never again accept your enjoyment of that warm moist feeling in your drawers.
    11-20: Don’t give a sh*t what your dad says; just feel smug about the odds that you’ll outlive him.
    21-30: Drink more; it gets harder as you get older.
    31-40: Don’t hurry your kids’ potty training; they’ll figure it out on their own.
    41-50: Don’t give a sh*t what your kids say; just feel smug about how much better you are at holding your liquor thanks to decades of practice.Report

    • Avatar ktward says:

      Holy cow! I’m pretty sure you read my mind.

      This disturbs me. I mean, you’re a dude. I feel a shift in the force, or something like that.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Heh, I read your comment below before this ine, and I immediately wondered if my comment was part of what made this post/thread too dudish.

        I am a dude, but if this comment reveals my feminine side, I’m cool with that.Report

  12. Avatar Pinky says:

    I got one more. To myself in 1999: Walk away from Joss Whedon now. Don’t watch a thing more that he does. If anyone asks, or even if they don’t, tell them that what looks like clever dialogue is really his inability to write dialogue, and he’ll never top the first three seasons of Buffy. (That should start a flame war, but really, I’d love to have the time back that I wasted on bad TV.)Report

  13. Avatar ktward says:

    I feel like there should be some kind of Dudes Only warning on this post. (Or, is that a given with JB posts? Maybe I missed that memo.)Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Please accept our apologies for being too duderific. No one intends to drive the ladies away; we like you, we really do!Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:


      Is that because of the post? …Or who commented? …Or what they said?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        (I’m just curious, btw, not being defensive. I can see why someone would feel that way, but I’m not completely sure I know why I can see it.)Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        Not being ktward, I would nonetheless imagine it’s straightforwardly because of the number of times JB uses “Dude” in the OP and first comment, and multiple echoes thereof afterward by other comments? (He really does talk to himself like that, and I think the person he calls ‘dude’ the most after himself is me, but if a person reacts to ‘dude’ as gender-specific language, this post would pretty clearly be marked as expecting-to-be-read-by-males.)

        As for me, the reason I didn’t comment is that I have a couple of very serious, willing-to-give-up-my-awesome-life-if-I-could-erase-that-one-mistake answers. Which are downers, and rather private for posting on the internet. But which are important enough that any fun answer on my part would seem disingenuous.

        I’ve been really enjoying y’all’s answers.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      We should slowly explain to ktward that she doesn’t understand what we’re saying because she’s not logical enough. I hear that girls appreciate that.Report

    • Avatar Veronica Dire says:

      Huh, what?Report

  14. Avatar Patrick says:

    Ages 1-10: You’re not thinking about other people’s thinking enough
    Ages 11-20: You’re overthinking other people’s thinking, just talk to them more
    Ages 21-30: Put more money in the retirement account. As much as you can.
    Ages 31-40: Start the advanced degree soonerReport

  15. Avatar Pyre says:

    1987: Fuck High School. These people are unimportant to you now and always will be. Don’t let them drag you down.

    1991: If the Army isn’t hiring, try the Marines. Yes, it goes against family tradition but there is a good chance that the military life would lead to a better life for you even if it is with the Jarheads.

    1996: Live a little.

    2000: Either commit to your accounting plan or start getting certs as soon as you can.

    2004: Yes!!! By all means, try to go to Iraq. Either you will come out rich with the tools for a brilliant career or you will come out dead. Either way, your problems, both current and future, are resolved.Report