Life

What Path Would You Tell Your 15 Year Old Self To Go Down (Part 1)

Reading Time: 13 minutes 

What’s up guys and gals!

How’s everyone’s weekend coming along?

SPRING is finally here for reals – WOOP WOOP!

For those of us who are a bit pooped out from all that glorious sunshine and outdoor activities, what better way to unwind than to sit back and relax for another rendition of…

THE FRUGAL SAMURAI!

Cue drums and buxom dancers.

Been so darn busy recently that it’s the first proper time I’ve had, to take a breath – so you’ve caught me in a bit of a reflective mood.

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Hmm, did I lock the front door?

Yesterday, I was going through the old Facebook absent-mindedly, checking out who’s doing what and with whom – when I suddenly realized that I haven’t responded to a question from DP, an old schoolmate back in the day.

I’m always amazed by who reads this blog, and to everyone who does – a big thank you, hope you’re loving the content (let me know if you’re not, I aim to please)!

But back to DP – Hi DP! Sincere apologies for not responding earlier, I just don’t like y… I mean, I just haven’t had the time.

DP wrote to me earlier when I was asking for topics (ooo, ooo let me know what you want to hear about also) and he responded with:

Knowing everything you do now, What path would you tell your 15 year old self to go down?

AHA! A chance to talk about myself – who doesn’t love talking about themselves? I could talk about myself to myself all day (and sometimes do).

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So like, she said like, Oh Em Gee and I’m like, what-ever.

I thought it best then in answering, to break it down into the main aspects of life in my opinion – Health, Learning, Work, Relationships and Spiritual – and then trying to carve out a more specific path which I would hand down to my 15 year old self.

“But he was so ugly”.

“Don’t worry, he’ll grow out of it”.

Health 

Who knew growing up that KFC and Burger King isn’t a sustainable diet for daily living?

Fried chicken and beef patties ftw bro!

No seriously, as a 15 year old – I was obsessed with fast food… but who wasn’t!

In the early 2000’s, there were no such things as Quinoa, Acai or Kale – the orange juice with a KFC bucket provides all the vitamins we required thanks.

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Back in our day son, this was all the Kale we needed.

But invariably, as we get older – our metabolism slows down, our diet changes and our tastes evolve.

Despite it being my absolute favourite food of all-time, I cannot remember the last time I have eaten KFC – though that’s not to say I don’t eat unhealthily, it’s just that I’m more conscious of what I ingest these days.

Similarly with sleeping and exercising – the other components of a healthy life, I’m much more conscious of how many hours, how regular and the quality of each.

Back as a 15 year old – eating, sleeping, exercising are but pffft – mere distractions from playing video games and watching por… maths homework.

Older self: “My young, ugly and sexually un-attractive friend who will grow up to be the Asian Adonis – remember that you are what you eat, your body recharges on sleep and exercise a day keeps the doctor away”.

Younger self: “Fuck off old timer, who DOESN’T love fried chicken”.

Learning

This is mainly about personal growth and development. Many times I have missed opportunities because I don’t know about them.

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Turn an online bookstore into a global retailing behemoth? Duh! Who CAN’T do that?

From a learning perspective, at school – we are really taught to be generalists, as a 15 year old I was immersed in learning about a variety of subjects such as Chemistry, Latin, Sex Ed, and fucking Woodwork (I can make a toolbox and a foot-stool no problems).

But school and even university make us so woefully under-prepared for the real world, where everything is becoming more and more digital and relationships rule over everything.

It’s hard for the education system it’s true – because you can’t really teach about the future, you can only prepare children as best you can, using tools from the past.

I would ask my younger self to be more specific in my learning – I deeply regret not being more PC-literate – and to get out into the real world earlier, to get those street smarts up.

And the biggest take-away would be that you only learn from actually doing and experiencing – not from text written in words.

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Learn to not do this – whatever this is.

Older self: “Embrace the digital age – immerse yourself in new technology and the internet age young un, change is a-coming!”

Younger self: “Computers eh, but aren’t they only good for watching p… maths home-work?”

Work

Off the back of this – what sort of career should my 15 year old self have worked towards?

Growing up as a second generation immigrant, myself – and many others of my peers – we were told by our parents that the key to a successful career and life, is in white-collar professions – specifically in medicine, law, finance or engineering.

You know, the kind of professions which you can hold your head high in society and the ones which your parents would be proud to brag about to their friends.

So that’s what I did as a 15 year old, picked subjects to study for which were chosen to me by my folks (3 sciences anyone?)

Suffice to say it’s not something which yielded a positive result.

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Oh dear…

Luckily the result did manage to me get into a degree I wanted, the Bachelor of Commerce/Business.

Mainly because at the time, banking and finance was going gangbusters – stories of “The Millionaires Factory” in the media were perpetuating this perception.

Growing up from very humble roots – the allure and attraction of money made Banking and Finance a natural career path.

Lo and behold, the GFC hit right at the time in which we graduated.

SMACK.

BANG.

We were plunging into the world where the abyss was deepest.

This turbulence and volatility, at a time when we were just coming out of uni – was the single most transformative experience I could have encountered.

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TransformatIVE not TransformER!

It was a blessing and a curse – chiefly because remember what I said earlier? How you can’t read about it, you have to experience it?

I experienced it alright.

From widespread redundancies, economic chaos and uncertainty, watching grown men shaking with fear and emotion and our governmental leaders scared like deers in headlights.

From reading about “be greedy when others are fearful, fearful when others are greedy”, to seeing just how HARD it is to apply it in real-life.

And from viewing the aftermath – how our institutions and governments react at times of crises, how quickly the stock market can rebound before any sign of positivity.

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Here’s what our governments did.

But the biggest eye-opener for me personally, was when I caught up with my good friend JC3 in the depths of the crisis back in 2008.

JC3’s always been a bit of a happy-go-lucky guy, just seems to float around and somehow gets through it all.

At the time, he was in the last year of his degree and showed me a piece of paper.

It was a letter of offer from a company – one of the most recognizable.

I glanced down at it and stopped when I saw the offered salary…

$250,000

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

You see, JC3 didn’t get the best marks at school (didn’t care and still doesn’t), didn’t really want to go to uni but as all his friends were, there was “nothing else to do”. He didn’t even attend a “prestigious” university.

BUT JC3 lucked out, he scrapped into a degree which he thought would be interesting, seeing as the one subject he did do OK in was Chemistry.

Mining Engineering.

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Trust me, I’m an engineer.

Yeah that’s right – the lucky bastard came out of uni at the PERFECT time.

Mind you the $250k meant relocating to a 3rd world country, living in isolation for extended periods and the chances of seeing a Lion was higher than other humans, but even still JC3 assured me he could have walked into a $100k job in Oz.

So the big lesson for my 15 year old self would be to loaf around, play computer games and get into mining engineering at uni.

Ha ha, no that’s not all – the deeper lesson would be to try and be more aware of global trends, be on the look-out for industries and careers which are cyclical in nature and to understand that nothing is ever as good as it seems, and nothing is as bad as it seems.

And the absolutely deepest lesson of them all – is to specialize.

It’s the specialists in any chosen vocation who earn the highest bucks.

Doesn’t matter if you’re white collar, blue collar, green collar – the specialists can charge what they want. Take it or leave it.

Need your toilet fixed? The plumber quotes you a price, take it or leave it.

Need to start divorce proceedings? There’s a reason only the lawyers benefit from a divorce.

Need life-saving surgery? Let’s haggle a price with the surgeon first, said no one ever. 

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“See this part? This is where I need to cut – but too bad the patient haggled with me before surgery.”

Mind you, I have good friends in Banking and Finance who have accomplished amazing things, and will continue to do so.

I’m quite envious of their achievements (in a non-malicious, I wish that was me! kinda way) and wish nothing but the best for them.

But they are distinctly in the minority of high achievers – the majority of peeps who I know, well – we’re doing OK, getting by and getting through it.

Damnit, I wished I studied Mining Engineering 101!

Older self: “Sometimes it makes sense to step back and properly analyze and research your options before trying to jump in and decide.”

Younger self: “Easy for you to say old man, which 15 year old knows what they want out of life!”

That’s the thing ain’t it? How many of us know what we wanna do at 15?

I was going to continue with the other two aspects, the relationships and spiritual ones but I’ve gone wayyyy past the allotted words I usually write.

So if you enjoy this – come back next time and I’ll make sure to finish it off!

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