What advice would you give to yourself as a kid?

On a recent ski trip to Lake Louise, as I recounted my less-than-pleasant childhood experiences of being bullied to my good friend, he asked me what advice I would give to 8-year-old Pete, the one not so much younger than you see in the header image, the one too intimidated to go to school some days, the one who cried and begged his parents to let him go to their offices to play with intricate tree stamps cut out of erasers at the architectural office or doodle on yellow legal pad at the law office, either of which seemed infinitely preferable to the caustic 3rd grade classroom.

As my own boys approach this same tender age, seemingly more socially adept though they both appear to be, it’s worth considering what advice I’d give to myself at that tender age.i Since we already did the “advice to yourself 10 years ago” bit, this seems like a worthwhile second chapter. So without further ado, here are a few thoughts:

  • Your classmates are your classmates, not your peers.
  • Chips on shoulders will one day put chips in pockets.
  • Your differences are your strengths. Embrace your passions no matter how unconventional.
  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
  • Math and Phys-Ed are your favourite subjects for a reason.
  • Are you sure you want to be a veterinarian? What does a veterinarian do all day? What do you want to do all day when you grow up?
  • What do you think it means to grow up and why is that desirable in the first place?
  • It’s not that you’re a bad writer, it’s that you’re not passionate about the subject matter enough to hone your craft. Start by writing about something you love until you can use words to paint a picture in someone else’s mind. Practice describing every detail, and then integrate and synthesise those details into a whole.
  • Don’t be afraid to take things apart even if you don’t know how to put them back together yet.
  • Just do it. When it doubt, throw on a Nike t-shirt with the famous motto to remind yourself.
  • Keep sitting crossed-legged, your future hips will thank you for it.
  • So what if you’re always picked last for a class sports team?
  • Sprinting speed is overrated. Life’s a marathon. Build your pace.
  • Be proud of the fact that your parents are choosing world travel over fancy cars, clothes, and toys.
  • You’re right, Lego is the best toy ever invented.
  • Your SNES Super Mario skills will come in surprisingly handy in impressing your own kids (and your future wife)

That’s about all for me. What about you?
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  1. I mean, no matter how hard we try, it’s not like we can actually give useful generic advice to strangers, no matter how fashionable and appealing the idea may be, so why not give it to yourself? If for nothing else than to serve as a template for raising your own children?

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