50 things I wish I could tell the younger me

I think that I’m getting old. It’s not the wrinkles, or the grey hairs, or that the nose-hairs suddenly sprout like something from Jack and the Beanstalk, or that the hangover from the New Year’s party lasts until Easter. It’s  the grey hairs inside my head. It’s when my mind goes from “That’s cool! I must try it!” when I encounter something new, to “You shall not pass, flame of Udûn!” It’s when I shake my head and mutter “kids these days…” at nonsense like that stupid unboxing-part in reviews, reaction videos on YouTube, and the witch-hunt on pubic hair. It’s when the people I say are “about my age” actually are fifteen years younger than me. It’s avoiding telling my age in numbers, and instead comparing myself to some good-looking celeb older than me “Oh, me, I’m younger than Hugh Jackman and Brad Pitt”.

I did the math, and unless there’s some really potent antioxidants in cheese and wine, or that Netflix transmits youth-rays, I most likely have less birthdays ahead of me than I have behind me. Of course that makes me wonder about the life I’ve lived so far. Was it just dull work and mindless procrastination? Did I do something useful? Did I learn something? Did my soul grow? So I began to write down the stuff I would tell the teenage me if I’d ever stumble upon a DeLorean with a flux capacitor. The life-hacks, and the soul-hacks. The short-cuts and the pennies dropped. The lessons learned from fumbling my way through life. The 50 things I wish that I could tell the younger me…

1. There is no such thing as being ready. You can prepare until the end of days, but life just keeps changing the rules all the time. Don’t wait, do it now. Jump, and figure out how to land later. It will not be any messier, and you’ll save time. Besides, you won’t have time to worry about how to do it when you’re in the middle of doing it.

2. You don’t have to care about what people think about you. It’s only opinions, and there are so many opinions that if they had matter we’d need five more universes. Also consider the source of the opinion – critique from a moron is actually praise.

3. Fire your inner demons, and hire an inner village idiot. Instant bliss.

4. Luck exists. But it’s not magic – it’s an attitude. ‘Lucky’ people expose themselves to the possibility of chance. They are curious and unafraid, open to everything. They don’t care about failing. They don’t get stuck in routines, but always try new things, and new ways and solutions. Want to be lucky? Ditch your fears and hesitation, and just go out there and do stuff.

5. Find out what makes your heart beat faster and brings a smile on your lips, and make that your destination. Make a map and follow it. Don’t care about the detours, the getting lost, or the bumps in the road – that’s all a part of the journey. Just remember where you are going and you’ll get there eventually.

6. Everything is possible. The trick is to never give up.

7. Don’t send ‘signals’ – just say what’s on your mind. As clear as possible. People are crap at mindreading. Not to mention how incredibly bad actors we all are. Our performance of “I’m very upset about what you said last night, and you should see it on my face, understand, and apologize” usually come across as “I’m constipated, can we have Mexican for dinner?

8. It’s ok to break up with friends and family. There are no relations you have to be in. Life’s too short to be around people that make you unhappy.

9. Being scared means that you’re on to something important and amazing. Being brave means that you keep going even after you’ve pooped your pants. It’s only pants after all.

10. As Churchill said: If you’re going through hell – keep going. I’d like to add: …and don’t forget to get some ice cream along the way.

11. Facts are going extinct. They’ve been crowded out by the invasive species Opinions, Myths, and Delusions. Facts are important and precious, value them and care for them. Study, research, and be very critical of sources. Even when the results piss you off.

12. Every time you make a choice someone is going to get disappointed. Just make sure it isn’t you.

13. There’s no such thing as being lazy. Resting before you get tired is clever, and good for both your body and your mind. And if it makes you bored you’ll probably get a lot of great ideas. Always being busy is an effective way to overexert yourself, and not get the time to listen to all the important things your heart want to tell you.

14. Self-pity begin to smell after 24h. Do something about the reason, or get drunk, forget, and move on.

15. The world isn’t fair. Assholes that can barely tie their shoelaces get rewarded and become successful, while kind and talented people get ignored and pushed back. There is one thing you can do to make the world a better place: Don’t play along. Don’t give the asshats attention just because everyone else does. Reward the people that prefer to use their heart and soul instead of sharp elbows and bullshit.

16. It’s never too late to change your mind. (Exceptions: becoming a parent, and committing suicide)


On the shore


17. Know the rules before you break them. Or else your radical trailblazing is only you stomping around in the dark. That being said, not knowing the rules is much more fun.

18. Do the things you love. If you love what you do, chances are that other people will too.

19. Productivity is all about outsmarting your dallying inner child that want to play, and live under the delusion that the future-you will have more time and motivation than the now-you. Do it now, because future-you is the same tardy bastard, and is not to be trusted.

20. Gifts and holidays are much more appreciated if they show up unexpectedly instead of on a certain date.

21. Rock bottom is a great place to push yourself up from.

22. Cosplay your way through life. Reality seems like a lovely place, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

23. Finish things. Properly. Everything that you leave unfinished, unsaid, undone, unshouted, unthrownaway, unkicked, unwhatever, is going to just lie there like a huge rotting mammoth and stink up the place. And remember that letting go is also a way to finish things.

24. Fear of failure is one of the biggest obstacles in life when it comes to getting shit done. I guess we’re thinking “If I don’t try I at least remain in the same place, if I try and fail I’ll take a step back”. That is just pure bullshit. It’s by making mistakes we learn and grow. Doing it wrong is the first and only step to doing it right. The only real failure is not even trying.

25. If you want to make a living of your art, you have to master two kinds of creative skills. One is of course the thing(s) you create. But remember that art is not sport, you can’t really measure being ‘good’. Crappy musicians play songs millions love. People with the writing skills of a dim 6th grader can make a bestseller. The only thing you can truly be good at, is being You. Find your voice, and make it as much You as possible.
The second area of creativity is making what you do into a product people are willing to pay for. This is much, much harder, because there are no rules or patterns or predictability. Not so long ago people paid good money music and movies, and coffee was almost free, now it’s the other way around. Next week maybe diamonds are as cheap as bubblgum, and we pay big money to smell farts. I have no idea. But try to understand your market. Be in touch with the zeitgeist. Try to understand people, and what they love and why. And be unique.


Like sand through my fingers


26. “You haven’t changed a bit” is not a compliment – it’s an insult.

27. Act, don’t react. Don’t let your direction in life come from jumping aside, backing away, escaping, or being pushed around.

28. Try to leave the planet a better place than you found it. It’s the only one with chocolate, wine, pillow forts, melodic death metal, cheese, tortoises, and breathable air.

29. People think in stories and personal experiences, not in statistics, so they will be wrong about basically everything. Yes, you too.

30. Pick your fights. Being right all the time isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

31. Ignoramuses are cocksure. People who actually know what they are doing are full of doubt. Being crippled by self-doubt is a reliable sign that you are on to something amazing.

32. People can act selfish for two reasons.
Reason 1: It’s who they are. That kind is selfish in all weathers and moods. They will suck you dry, and when you crawl away in an attempt to save your life and soul, they will be deeply disappointed in you …and of course call you “selfish”.
Reason 2: They suffer so much that they simply haven’t anything left to give to others. Helping them is the most beautiful kindness there is, and when they are back safe on the shore again, they can become the best friends you’ve ever had.

33. You are never as lonely as when you are among people you don’t belong with. Find your Tribe. Create your own family. But most important of all – learn to love your own company, then you’re never truly alone.

34. There are two kinds of trouble in life. One is like a big tree that has fallen across the road you’re travelling – the solution is fairly obvious, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work. The other is more like solving Rubik’s Cube – you have no idea what you’re doing when you begin, you have to twist and turn and try and fail and feel like a complete idiot, until you suddenly see the obvious solution in all its simplicity and elegance.

35. And speaking of troubles. If you really want something you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

36. This is what the road to success really looks like:


37. Dream. Dream big. Dream wild. Dream dangerously. Reality is a work-in-progress, and it need your dreams to evolve and become better and more beautiful. And you need your dreams, because if you don’t dream you will have no guiding star, and get lost.

38. Keep an open mind. But also keep bouncers, fact-checkers, security guards, and a well-paid skeptic at the opening.

39. Money is just a tool. Don’t give it power or meaning it doesn’t have, it will only mess with your life, and make you care about things that are not important. The human brain is wired to think that there is no such thing as “enough” (it was developed back in the day when we usually had cold gravel for supper …if we were lucky). Earn 100 000? Then you will think that you’ll be happy once you earn 200 000, but every time you get a raise, your limit for what you think will make you happy will jump out of your reach. Also, most people adjust their spending every time they get more money. You will always end up on 0 at the end of the month, just with more stuff that is in the way and that will complicate your life.
Spend your money on experiences, not on stuff. That new iPhone will be obsolete and boring before you’re even home, but travelling, dinners with friends, and watching Rammstein live will make you feel connected, and give you stories to tell (and the Rammstein gig will probably also clear your sinuses and burn off your nose-hair).

40. Hope is not found – it is created.

41. When the map and reality differs – rewrite reality.

42. ‘Politically correct’ is derogatory term used by whining dinosaurs who can’t understand why no one is laughing at their demeaning jokes about gays, vegans, foreigners, feminists, disabled, and minorities anymore. Dinosaurs belong in a museum.

43. Everything happens for a reason … that you make up afterwards, to make some sense of this random chaotic mess called life. But that’s ok. Life is a story anyway, why not make it a good one.

44. The best chance of finding the Love of Your Life is by not trying. Be happy all by yourself, and you’ll see other people with a clear vision. Longing and loneliness tend to mess with your perception of reality, “Oh, you are also carbon-based, and have five fingers on each hand! We are soul-mates made for each other!

45. There are a LOT of myths and expectations regarding how you should act, reason, and behave as a man/Swede/writer/at-your-age/whatever. Don’t buy that shit. If you are willingly going to be restrained, let it at least be in a kinky way. Resisting and rejecting norms and peer pressure is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

46. Fruit will never be a substitute for chocolate. Never. Ever.

47. Figuring out life, and yourself, takes a lot of time. It’s ok to feel lost and make a lot of mistakes. It’s more than ok – it’s the only way. We’re never graduating, or getting any real grip, but at some point we’re getting to know who we are, what we like and what we don’t, and then life gets a bit easier. But don’t be surprised if this happens sometime around when you get your first grey hairs.

48. Don’t do regret or bitterness. Really. Don’t. That’s like crapping your pants, and then keeping them on so the smell will always remind you how awful it was that time you crapped your pants. Don’t look back. Look forward. Or even better – look at the present. The best time is always now. And it’s never too late. Your dreams have no expiry date. One of my friends became a rock star after 40. There are many that began their careers as bodybuilders or writers and other cool things after 80. Life is happening all the time. It only stops with the last breath.

49. Listen to your heart. Yeah, I know, the heart is just a muscle that is pumping blood through the body, and if you listen to it you will only hear “swoosh-swoosh” and “bonk-bonk”. But you know what I mean, that expression means listen to your dreams and desires, do the things you look forward to, the things that make you happy. It may sound obvious, but humans are social animals, and once upon a time “listen to your heart” meant getting kicked out of the tribe for being weird, which meant that something with sharp teeth would soon be chewing on your heart. But today it is safe to be yourself and follow your dreams. You may piss people off, but that’s a good way of sorting them out. There are no innocent casualties when you follow your heart (unless you dream about being a serial-killer) – people who truly care about your happiness will understand and support you; people who don’t can fuck off.

50. Whatever you do, be kind. It’s very contagious.


What the water gave me


All pictures © Peter X. Eriksson



Listening to: Periphery and Moda Spira
Reading: Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories
Watching: Stranger Things
Playing: Disney Magic Kingdoms