If I had known back then…

… what I know now. That’s the topic of today’s post.

It’s actually an interesting exercise to think about how you might do things differently if you had started out with your current level of understanding. I’m 31, and I know a lot more than I did when I was 21. I’m sure when I’m 41, I will look back at 31 and feel the same way.

Things I know now that would have changed the way I did things:

  • You can’t “make” a relationship work by trying really hard. It’s either going to work or it isn’t, and there isn’t a direct correlation between effort and results. – If I had known that 10 years ago, I would have made completely different relationship choices. My tendency was to pick someone I was attracted to then work my butt off trying to make it into a relationship. Foolish optimism? Probably.
  • I’m a much better boss than most bosses out there. – If I had known that 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have spent so much time second-guessing myself. I would have been firmer in my opinions, and I would have put up with a lot less crap from employees. A lot of my employees over the years have taken advantage of my tendency to trust. I don’t want to change my personality, but I would not give people multiple chances after they screwed me over once.
  • Dogs are wonderful companions. – If I had known that 10 years ago, I probably still would have had to wait to get a dog till I bought my house. However, I would have had dogs sooner and probably wouldn’t have experienced the meltdown that I did when I lived on my own for the first time. Dogs are always happy to see you, easy to please, and extremely loyal.
  • Do something you enjoy doing, even if it doesn’t pay as well as other options. – There’s nothing worse than frittering away your life doing something you hate on a daily basis. If I had known that 10 years ago, I probably would have done everything possible to start my own studio rather than working as a supervisor in a company with a bunch of employees who hated me. Managing riffraff is not nearly as fun as shooting photos.
  • Once someone proves they aren’t loyal, that should be the end of the friendship/relationship. – Loyalty isn’t something that’s conditional. People aren’t loyal “some of the time” and not others. By definition, that’s not possible. Once someone proves they aren’t trustworthy or they don’t have your best interests at heart, you should cut them off immediately. If I had known that 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have lost so much sleep over people who weren’t worth bothering with.
  • A lot of people will only remain friends with you if they are gaining something from it. – Not many people will be your friend and actually think about YOU. The ratio of takers to givers in the world is about 1000:1. If you’re a taker, the rules are probably different for you. If you’re a giver, you need to find someone else who is a giver to be friends with. Oh yeah – the takers won’t give you a second chance if you screw up. Maybe that should tell you something…
  • Gossips do not make good friends. – You know when your mom told you not to talk bad behind people’s back, because if someone will talk to you about someone, they will talk about you when you’re not around? She was right. If your friends like to talk smack about people who aren’t there to defend themselves, odds are pretty good they are talking smack about you, too. If I’d known that 10 years ago, I would have had a completely different set of friends.
  • Anybody can get a college degree, even morons. – I have known a lot bozos who got a college degree. Some of them even got a Ph.d. College does not equal smart. College equals persistence. If you meet someone who has a degree, you are probably meeting someone who can finish what they start. However, they still might be a moron. If I had known that 10 years ago, I probably would have just jumped in and finished college in 5 years (instead of 11). I thought it was supposed to be hard. Turns out, it’s just time consuming.
  • Home is where they have to take you when you have to go there. – Family is the one constant in life. Friends come and go, and sadly, even relationships come and go. Whatever happens, family is there, and it’s important. Even if you have a major falling-out with a family member, over time it fades. When times get tough, they are the ones that will really be there. I think 10 years ago, I had this figured out. 15 years ago, not so much.
  • There is no substitute for happiness. – Drinking, smoking, drugs, promiscuity, extreme religiousity, etc. are just lame crutches that people use to cover up their unhappiness. Chances are if you meet someone who sleeps around or gets drunk all the time, they aren’t really happy. If that’s you, you should probably ask yourself what the real problem is. If I had known that 10 years ago, I would have just skipped my drinking phase altogether.

  4 comments for “If I had known back then…

  1. September 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    “Once someone proves they aren’t loyal, that should be the end of the friendship/relationship”

    “Oh yeah – the takers won’t give you a second chance if you screw up. Maybe that should tell you something…”

    Isn’t this the same thing? I’ve been a giver and a taker in various relationships; I’ve let people down, does this mean I should never get a second chance?

  2. September 23, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Letting someone down is different than being disloyal. If you screw somebody over, they probably shouldn’t give you a second chance. If you make a mistake and didn’t mean to hurt them, they probably should.

  3. September 23, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    I give a hearty AMEN to #3!

  4. BJD
    September 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Lots of wisdom in this post. Lots.

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