What I Would Tell My Former Self
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What I Would Tell My Former Self

A message to my younger self

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What I Would Tell My Former Self
Self

I've read a lot of blogposts and heard a lot of songs about what people would tell their younger selves, given the knowledge and wisdom and experience they have now. It's usually something along the lines of, "Fight for your dreams" or, "Be bold" or, "Don't let the haters get to you". Those are all well and good, and oftentimes those are things that would be helpful to tell one's younger self.

But I'd have a different bit of advice to tell my younger self: "Shut up."

Looking back on my life, even just in the past few years, there are so many opportunities where I look back and wish I could have told myself to shut up. This is for three main reasons:

1. You don't know as much as you think you do. When I was younger, I had a bad habit of thinking I was a lot smarter than I was (I still do, to a certain degree). I frequently hijacked conversations with my "intellect" and would try to peacock what I knew about any given topic, which was laughably little (this is not to say that I know so much more now, but I've realized just how little I actually know about nearly everything). I was convinced that I could just flaunt my intelligence in people's faces and impress them, or even fool them. In fact, it was this same attitude that carried my haughty self through most of high school thinking I could coast past hard work on the inertia of my inborn intellect. My GPA ended up proving me wrong. Even on subjects I knew a considerable amount about, or concepts I had a solid grasp on, if I had just shut up I would've gained an understanding of just how little I actually knew.

2. You are not as interesting or as funny as you think you are. Unsurprisingly, with my attitude about my intellect (or often lack thereof), I would try to hog any attention to once again display how smart I was or how clever I was or how funny I could be. Looking back, I'm mortified by this. I had just irritated the people around me and damaged friendships and left a sour taste in people's mouths. Again, if I had just shut up, I would've better gauged the situation and realized that maybe my enormously wonderful wit was not as welcome as I assumed.

3. People around you know something you don't. Everyone around me knows something I don't, not in the sense of a conspiracy that excludes me, but in the sense that there's something to learn from every person you talk to. Their experiences, their stories to tell, the knowledge and wisdom they've acquired, most of it is probably something I lack. All around me, there's opportunity to gain a fuller understanding of the world if I would just swallow one ounce of my pride and shut up, not to stew and concoct my next witty comeback, but to actually listen. I did so much talking and so little listening when I was young.

So younger me, do yourself a favor and shut up every once in a while. Step outside of yourself. Be humble.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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