Advice to 20-Year-Old Me

Tuesday, 30 March 2010 at 4:45 am Pacific USA Time.

A super cool person I met at SXSW (who also gave me THE coolest biz card) sent a friendly follow-up email. She is looking to get advice, but asked it in an excellent form.

She asked what advice would I have for 20-year-old me. Oooooooo. OK.

Well, I'm 38 as I type this. When I was 20, I was a senior in college. I was already using the name "As Was" for side consulting, though it didn't become a website design and marketing company until a few years later. I hadn't gotten into the music biz yet.

But I think the question really is about what major mistakes I made that I wish I could go back and warn myself about. The answer to that is easy.

The main mistakes I have made have been in personal relationships. Time after time, I have gotten into long, live-in relationships with bad guys. Just bad. But I saw their potential, and I figured if I took good care of them, that would let that potential shine through. It never happened.

Tip 1: Disconnected, hurting, hurt, abusive, depressive, addictive, wacky guys usually don't grow into anything other than that. 20-yr-old me should know it's OK to walk away from those relationships once I can see how out-of-balance they are, and 20-yr-old me should be better at seeing those signs earlier.

Each of those "Big 3 Relationships" also magically had me as the main breadwinner, in some cases, the ONLY breadwinner. Sometimes my boyfriends worked with/for me. Sometimes they worked for someone else. And at times, they each had no job at all. And I supported them because I thought that's what a loving girlfriend/wife does. I didn't come from money, and I threw every dollar I had at these guys. See above about thinking that taking care of them would make them the better people I "knew" they could be.

Tip 2: 20-yr-old me shouldn't think twice about leaving a guy who's not pulling his weight financially. Sure, we all get into financial problems from time to time. But he should be able to pay his share of the bills, even if he has to sling coffees to do it.

Tip 3: Pre-nup agreements. Don't even live with somebody without a signed agreement of who owns what and where things go if we break up. You have car insurance. You have home or renters insurance. You might have health insurance. This is personal possession insurance. It's like renters but way better.

20-yr-old me should have also lived the dream of throwing out of my life a few other stressful, negative, abusive people. I didn't dump them until I was 34. I'd like to tell 20-yr-old me to waste no time dumping them. :)

And that's really it. I don't feel like I've made many (major) business mistakes. But I know that dating really bad guys has dragged my energy way down. Drains me without me even noticing. Certainly killed my finances. Wasted so many years living with guys who were incapable of love, and only capable of dragging me down. If I hadn't made those choices, my life would be totally different. So that would be my advice to a young person now.

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Categories: Just An Observation

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