Updated: Aug 1, 2021
This adventure into the mountains was entirely a leap of faith. There were no goals beyond the vague notions of soul searching and doing something different. I had been going mad in a job that drained my spirit and left me stressed. I kept telling myself I should know what I want to do instead, but I simply didn't know what that was. If you're someone who can relate, this story may very well help you feel better. I found reassurance.
I met a coworker for drinks and dinner after my last day on the job. I expressed to him my distress over the fact that I didn't know what I wanted. This led to my question, What would you tell your 26-year-old self?
I loved his answer. It made me feel good. It made me curious what other people would say while reflecting back on their life.
So my journey commenced with a question. I reached out to friends and family, all who have taken a few more trips around the sun.
I said, I am gathering life advice. What would you tell your 26-year-old self?
These are the answers I got back (with some paraphrasing):
Eric - You may find that once you stop searching, your true path may actually find you.
Carolyn - Do what makes YOU happy. Life is not easy, but it's worth it. Experience all that you can. Stay in contact with your mom, dad, and sister... (and me too)! But remember above anything your family will be there for you no matter what. Listen to your voice, but open your mind to everything around you. Truly EXPERIENCE life!
Christine - Travel often. Don't be afraid to say "no." There will always be work to do, but people and moments will slip by, and you don't want to miss them. Say "I love you." There will be a time when others won't be here to hear you say it. Smile at others a lot. It can make someone's day brighter.
Scott - Keep in contact. Call friends / family often. Before you realize it, people pass away or you miss big things in their lives.
Papa - He heard me say "life advice," and didn't let me finish the question. I got a good story out of him though... When I was in high-school on spring break, my buddies and I took a trip down to Florida. I thought I had enough money, but I spent it all while I was down there. We had a little too much fun. I had no way to get back to Michigan, and I was too ashamed to call anyone and ask for help. So I hitchhiked all the way back from Florida. Let me tell you, that was scary. I was afraid of those Georgia truckers. Once I got out of Georgia, I felt better. He then concluded with a few words of advice... Look out for yourself all the time. Be aware of your surroundings. Keep cash on yourself. You call me if you need anything - I'll do what I can to help.
Jean - When opportunity knocks on your door and you have a good feeling, take it. Nine times out of ten you will not get the chance again. Let us know how you are doing! Remember people care about you. Just be aware of your surroundings!
Ralph - Try to plan for your future. But if you save all your money, you'll reach the age where you can't physically do it all - all the things you were saving for. Work on your bucket list now. Split your resources between investing and doing.
Dad - Always have a good running car. When you travel, try not to have preconceived expectations. The more you can work for yourself, the happier you will be.
Mom - Money doesn't solve your problems, but being poor doesn't either. Don't be afraid to spend on the good stuff, quality items, especially when it comes to shoes, tools, etc. Don't be afraid to take risks, especially when your fear is because you don't know the outcome. Don't be afraid to reach out to people. There is a big circle of people who have your back. Get out of uncomfortable situations. Always have an out.
Papa Juergens (What my mom thought he would have said) - Everything is negotiable, and no answer is final. When my mom said this, my dad added in that Papa Yeck would also say "Everything is for sale."
Robbie - At 26 I had made some wonderful memories and some bad ones. I moved to San Diego, followed a boy out there. He left me but I stayed. I didn't want to hear I told you so. I came home about 2 years later and realized this is where I need to stay. Fell in love with a boy I knew I would marry. There was no doubt this was the one. Then he left me. I didn't date for a year and a half. I just worked and hung out with friends. I met Steve one night playing pool and that was it. We went on one date, and he asked me to marry him. I said yes. I would tell my 26-year-old self not to hurry things along and just enjoy the ride. I met great people and awful people, but they all shaped me to be who I am.
Karen - So many things. You are so much stronger than you think. You are a survivor who can do anything you set your mind to. Hold your friends close. They will be the ones who get you through the rough patches. Don't be afraid to ask for help. When I was 26, I felt a bit lost myself. Take this time to know who you are.
After all those words, I really feel a sense of community. The advice was human, societal. It seems that we forget how many people out there love us, how many people have our backs. What is important is our connection to others. We should try our best to be with them in the present moment when we are blessed with the opportunity. We are never truly alone on our path.
I also noticed that none of the advice related to career. There will always be work to be done. That is all. I surrender to the initial advice I received from Eric. I have stopped searching, so my true path can find me.
I love you all. Cheers!!!