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If you could live life over again, what would you do?


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"Too soon old, too late smart."

If you could live life over again, or if you knew then what you know now, how would you do things differently?

I'm getting 'old',  but I have young children.  What can I teach them so they don't make the same mistakes I did.

I live in the USA.  I think in High School I would have concentrated more on my grades.  It would have allowed me to try a larger variety of professions after graduation.

I got involved in the 'Christian' groups in University.  I don't think I would do that again.  I wouldn't join a fraternity either, but I would go for the common interest groups instead (The ski club, crew, etc.)

I passed up an internship, back when I started working on my Bachelor's degree.  If I had it to do over again i would do any internship related to my major that I could get into.  Even if it cost me money.

There are lots of different summer jobs you can do while at University but the best paying ones are those with a 'skill'. A  'skill' I would recommend is, believe it or not, truck driving.   You can always get work and it pays well.  There are a number of seasonal jobs available in the summer.  After graduation, if nothing else, you can still drive and basically live anywhere you want to.

In University I would have taken advantage of the language courses.  The world is a big place and the more languages you speak the more freedom you have.  Want to try living in China? Vietnam? Korea? Japan?  Get an education degree, and learn the language.

I would have done more traveling if I had things to do over again.  I was too insecure at a young age to be that adventurous.

Anyway those are a few thoughts.  Maybe I will add more later.  Please add any thoughts or ideas you have.

 

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I really wish I would not have gotten pregnant in my late teens. 

And I really, really wish I would have followed my gut about college instead of changing my mind ten billion times. Maybe if I had I would have graduated on time and be in a really good job by now lmao. 

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One thing perhaps I should have done differently at age 23 would have been to buy an apartment near town instead of a suburban house.    Living 20km from the city really put a cramp on my social life.   My house was at the top of a steep hill,  which led me to stop cycling to work and take the bus instead.

The resulting lack of exercise,  combined with the reduced social life and wasted commuting time put me on the road to become fat, suburban and boring, and that really messed up my life. 

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15 hours ago, likesToLick said:

 

The resulting lack of exercise,  combined with the reduced social life and wasted commuting time put me on the road to become fat, suburban and boring, and that really messed up my life. 

I know what you mean.  At one point in my life I decided that, if nothing else worked out,  I would be a truck driver.  So I became an "over-the-road" truck driver.  And I got really fat and out of shape.  That really hurt my social life.

I tried aerobics (oliptical machine, treadmill).  That didn't work.  I didn't lose a pound.  Then I tried less aerobics combined with weights.   That is what Clint Eastwood did so I figured it would work.  It worked -- but it took me over a year to see any results at all. The only thing that saved me was that I became friends with people in the gym so I kept on going -- so I could hang out with my friends.

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The list of things I'd change is endless but boils down to a few simple principles:

  1. Have confidence in yourself and don't listen to the naysayers ... things might not work out but then again they might
  2. Go with your gut & follow your heart ... I missed so many things I wish I'd tried because it was inconvenient or I was uncertain or whatever waffly reason I had
  3. Dont do anything halfway ... if you're going to do, then do it with all your energy & focus

Life is short ... live it fully

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I think my advice would be

- Never live in the past, always look to the future

- Always follow your dreams, no matter how big they are

- Believe in yourself and others will too

- Never forget that you’re human and treat everyone with equal respect

- Save early and invest in your future

- Don’t let other people run your life

- Never give up, no matter how difficult the path is

- Live life to the fullest and without regrets

There are so many life events that I would do differently if I had the time again but equally without those life events I wouldn’t have become the person I am today.
I would certainly love to go back and live certain years again, late teens/early twenties for example because they were some of the best years of my life and were carefree. Would I change anything, probably not other than having the confidence to tell others how I felt. 
 

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I was thinking about why I would not get involved with Christian groups, in University, if I had it to do over again.  Forgive me but I want to try articulating it here so that I can later clearly explain to my own kids.

I will start by saying I considered myself a "conservative" "Christian".  Those terms are pretty vague and I found that there were many different definitions.  I have found that it is better to define your beliefs -- in clear terms -- than to identify yourself according to a label.  I ran into people who identified themselves as "conservatives" but had beliefs completely different from my own -- and hated me.  And I encountered the same problem with "liberals", Republicans, and Democrats.  I now loosely define myself as a Libertarian -- but the same problem exists with that label too.  It seems that to really fit into a group you have to change at least a few of your own beliefs, or principles, to be accepted.

Anyway this is kind of involved so I will continue later.  Hopefully I will be able to later sum things up in fewer words. 

An old man, who lived next door to me (He was 98) told me that he had become an atheist.  He said that the main reason he would join a religion was for the social aspect.  He had been raised a Mormon, and he feared the potential conflicts that could arise if he were to join another religion.

 

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2 hours ago, 1badboy said:

I now loosely define myself as a Libertarian -- but the same problem exists with that label too.

I know what you mean.  I am socially a libertarian, but economically a socialist.  That conflict means that I get hated by many socialists and libertarians 😵

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I was looking for a quote from Garrison Keillor, but I haven't been able to find it.  It was something to the effect that some people are "good" but that a group is not "intrinsically good".   My mistake, in my late teens, was believing that "Christians" were better than "average".  They weren't.  It was just a group of people.  And for the most part the group was only as good as the leader.  If the pastor, or priest, was friendly -- then the group was friendly.  If the pastor was exclusive, and selective, about the people he would talk too -- then the group tended to be too.

However as a "Christian" I viewed other Christians as 'superior", and I viewed myself as superior as well -- which was not such a good thing for me...  It was limiting when I was in University, and to an extent kept me from socializing, and trying new things -- which I would do now if I had the chance.  I had an inferiority complex.  I had gone to a Fraternity rush party with a friend, who wanted to join that fraternity.  I did not want to join, but he wanted to go with somebody.  The fraternity had a wild reputation, but the rush party wasn't terribly wild, it was mainly just a dinner.  And shortly after the dinner I was approached by a couple of guys in the fraternity who nicely explained to me that it didn't seem like I was the type that they were looking for.  And it's funny, because I didn't want to join the fraternity, but it really bothered me that I had been rejected.  And my friend did get accepted....  But with the "Christians" I rationalized that I was with a "better" bunch of people -- who had not immediately rejected me.  Later I got accepted in some Christian groups, and rejected in others.

But cutting to the chase, the Christian groups were really about making "friends" -- but MAINLY about meeting women.  They were "meet markets".  The friendships I made in those groups, and even in churches, were not always that great.  There was a lot of competition, and jealousy.  More than I ever encountered in any common interest groups.  And when it came to philosophy, very little of anything meaningful was ever taught.  And what little was taught was too self-centered -- especially for me when I was going through a period of insecure introversion.   I didn't need to be focusing inward on myself, I needed to be looking out at the world and taking advantage of the opportunities, and friendships, that I could make when focusing on others.  Its not about not masterbating, or not looking at porn, or not praying enough.  It's about looking out at the world, getting to know other people, being considerate, thinking about others.  Not talking solely about myself, learning about them, learning about other cultures, learning about views outside of the "conservative", "Christian", "Republican",  And allowing myself to view things without a limiting inferiority complex, and labels.

In a way the internet was eye opening for me.  A young woman, in Ireland, who was discerning becoming a Catholic nun, seemingly discovered me.  And started contacting me, with Yahoo Messenger, at all hours of the night (In Ireland).  That of course didn't go anywhere, but I realized that there was a great deal more outside of the USA.  I had been spending thousands dating locally, so I decided, "Why not try 'International' dating?"  So I went on International dating sites and met scammers in the Philippines, Russia, etc.  And I 'met' women in other parts of the world.  Which led to travelling.  Is it an easy way to find the 'perfect' person?  Not really.  You can get married very quickly.  But you can get divorced just as quickly.  Again, you have got to be careful -- just like with Christianity.  You can easily end up with a very ambitious wife, who married you thinking she was going to get rich -- but the reality turned out to be quite different.  One thing that travelling did was to open my eyes to the fact that there is a lot more out there than the US and Christianity, and "liberal", and "conservative".  My wife is Buddhist.  And don't get me wrong I like Jesus Christs 'Judaism' but I am not such a big fan of Paul's Christianity.  But that is a personal opinion, and it wasn't really my problem with Christianity.  It just felt good to experience Asia, and take a break from the Christian dominated USA.

I am rambling on, but "Christianity" created conflicts for me in University, which were unnecessary.   People competed, spread rumors, took sides, and it was just plain too controlling.  Too controlling in my personal life.  Too controlling in terms of which 'circle' I was accepted into.  Too controlling in terms of who I was 'allowed' to date -- or who would consider dating me (Without getting into a conflict).  Outside of Christian groups there is a lot more freedom.  I'll try to explain.  I had a girlfriend in University, who I had met outside of any church or group.  We dated for almost two quarters straight.  I was a member of InterVarsity Christian,  And she asked me if I could take her to that.  Now I had not been taking her because, I suppose I knew that there would be competition from other guys there -- even though there were more women than men in that group.  So I finally took her, and the competition was unlike anything I had expected..  I almost literally had guys pushing between us, to talk to her.  And she left me for another guy..  Maybe I was lucky.  Maybe she wasn't really that serious about me and I just found out more quickly that way.  Should I have 'fought' the other guys in the group?  What should I have done?  I ended up dropping out of that University and leaving.  Honestly I had other problems there.  Academically I wasn't quite up to the level of that University, and I was on academic probation my first quarter.  I don't regret having left, but I regret having gotten involved in that Christian group.  I admit I still got involved with Christian groups after that -- but I never found a steady girlfriend in one of those groups, or ever took a girlfriend to the group meetings either.  I continued to go because there were so many women there.  If I had it to do over again I would not get involved at all.  It is not hard to meet women at Universities.  Usually there are considerably more women than men there.

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Looking back....I'd have taken more risks, but at the same time I'd have been more responsible in some ways.

I've always felt that I missed on a lot of interesting opportunities and general life events because I didn't take some risks. I technically can't complain - my life is not bad - but I always wonder what could have been, if that makes sense. I feel like there's some stuff that I've missed out on that I'll never really have the chance to do now at my age in my social group - those times have passed. It is what it is, I guess.

I think the bulk of the knowledge that has come to me with age is the realization that most things that I thought mattered, didn't, and the things that I didn't think mattered much, actually did. I guess this is how parents feel when they try to guide their kids.

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I agree with a lot of what has already been said. People being interviewed on TV are invariably asked, "If you could live your life again, what would you change?" I can't believe the number of people who reply "nothing". I don't think excessive navel gazing is particularly helpful, but you must be living a totally unexamined life if you wouldn't change anything. 

Having a mentor is one thing I think would have really helped me. I'm thinking the best mentor would be a more senior person at work, but some universities and industry bodies offer to match people up with mentors, and that could work too. Promotions are always supposedly on merit, but from my observations, having access to another person's experience and networks is really valuable. 

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2 hours ago, UnauthorisedGuy said:

I agree with a lot of what has already been said. People being interviewed on TV are invariably asked, "If you could live your life again, what would you change?" I can't believe the number of people who reply "nothing". I don't think excessive navel gazing is particularly helpful, but you must be living a totally unexamined life if you wouldn't change anything. 

Having a mentor is one thing I think would have really helped me. I'm thinking the best mentor would be a more senior person at work, but some universities and industry bodies offer to match people up with mentors, and that could work too. Promotions are always supposedly on merit, but from my observations, having access to another person's experience and networks is really valuable. 

You need a candid mentor.  I'm cynical.  There are things that people will not tell you on jobs.  

Let's say you are doing a white collar job and there is a "suggestion box".  The suggestions ask for your name, and job title.  Strangely nobody ever suggests the obvious solutions to the problems everyone encounters.  Why not?

Well the suggestions don't go to your immediate supervisor, they go to his boss.  So if you put a suggestion into the box,  than you are bypassing your supervisor.  He is going to be embarrassed when the boss calls him in and asks "Why didn't you think of this?  Has anybody ever brought this up before?" And you are going to be in trouble!

Your supervisor is going to be angry that you didn't talk to him (Even if you have), and the boss may be uncomfortable that you went over your supervisors head.

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I agree with the people who say that they would have taken more risks.  I would have taken more risks, but I wouldn't have been wildly out of control.

There were a couple of times that I went out drinking, and I got so drunk that I blacked out, and I was sick the next day.  I would not do that again -- and I haven't. 

I would have taken more risks romantically.  And I'm not talking about just having sex with anyone.  I had sex, without a condom, with girls that I wasn't seriously interested in, and I wouldn't do that again!  Fortunately I never got any of those girls pregnant.  But back in University there were girls I had crushes on that I didn't dare to ask out.  If I had it to do over I would.   As I got older, I got braver, and I got rejected -- but at least I tried!  And I am married now, with a couple of kids.

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There is something that I never saw coming when I was in my early twenties, and that is the fact that you actually have a relatively short time to find a wife -- a committed partner.

In my late teens and early twenties it was extremely easy to date. The girl that dumped me for the other guy in the Christian group was only eighteen, but she was the Christian type who was ready to get married and start having kids.  I didn't have sex with her but I was living in the dorms and that was probably what saved me from getting her pregnant.  She REALLY wanted to have sex, and was continually dropping hints. She felt an urgency I didn't feel.

I wasn't ready to get married, not financially, not emotionally.  When I was twenty-nine I moved to northern Utah, and I found that the Mormons move faster than most.  Their upper age limit for "Singles Wards" is twenty-nine.

I turned thirty and I found out about how the religious groups age segregate their adults.  I will write more about this later, but this is something I wish I had known about and appreciated more when I was younger.

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I moved to Utah to work on a Master's degree.  I rented an apartment near the University, and discovered that my apartment building was recognized as a Mormon "Singles Ward" for ages 18 - 29.  I was twenty-nine. 

At first it seemed like a fantasy come true.  An apartment full of young pretty girls, all single, and all ready to marry.  I went to their dances, and socials!  I went to church with them.

Of course there is always a catch.  I took a girl out on a date -- an innocent first date.  And the day after a guy came over to talk to me.  He said he had been sent by the Bishop of our Ward.  He told me it would take me two to three years to get my "Temple Recommend" after joining, and until then I should not date.  Because only then could I get married in the Temple.

Then I turned thirty..  My apartment lease was cancelled, and I had to leave.  So I rented a basement apartment in a house.  But now I was viewed as 'too old' for the singles group I had just been part of.  And suddenly people were trying to set me up with divorcees with kids.

I didn't my Masters, but I stayed in Utah and worked as a truck driver, because honestly I had a huge crush on a girl -- which didn't go anywhere..

When I was thirty-six I moved back to California.   If I had it to do over again I would not have gone to Utah, and I would not have gotten involved with the Mormons.  Mormonism is too expensive (You must tithe 10 percent of your income).  Utah has one of the highest bankruptcy, and foreclosure rates in the country.  People go broke, go "inactive", and try to dig themselves out.  And the religion is too controlling.  You serve the "calling" -- do the job in the Ward -- that is chosen for you.   And you go through a "Temple Recommend" interview every year.  If you work at BYU, and you don't get your Temple Recommend, you lose your job.

Back in California I continued to work as a truck driver, and it is not the best job for dating and marriage.

When I was thirty-eight I got a local driving job, and brilliantly tried getting involved with the Christians again.  They also age segregate their adults, and their 'Young Adults' (singles) group tops out at thirty-nine.  So I was once again kicked out of their 'singles' group.  However they let the older single women continue to come -- because "They don't cause troubles".

I went to the older group and found divorcees with kids.  I wanted kids of my own.  It felt like people were trying to push some other man's wife and kids on me.  And the kids didn't like it either -- and I sympathized with them.

What would be so terrible about a forty year old man marrying a thirty-five, or a thirty-six, or thirty-seven,  year old woman?  I was told that if a woman couldn't have kids over forty than a man should not be allowed to either.  "Allowed"????  

They weren't concerned about the age differences between the man and the woman in a couple.  They were concerned with excluding men over a certain age -- and forcing them to consider the divorcees with the kids.  And of course this isn't great for the single, never married, women in their upper thirties, and early forties, who might have married the excluded men.  And there are always more women then men in these groups.

I would not waste my time with the Christian groups if I had it to do over again, and I wish I hadn't gotten involved.  I would have avoided many conflicts had I remained a little more anonymous.  And I didn't find my wife, and get married, until I left Christianity.

As I got away from the 'Christians' I found that the non-Christians weren't as bad as I had thought, and the 'Christians' weren't as good as I had wanted to believe.  But with the non-Christians I found a much more independent group of people.  And I became more independent.  I wish I'd had that sort of independence at a younger age.  It's not about being wild, and destructive, it's about being personally responsible enough that you don't need the help of others.

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I've been thinking about how I should explain things to my kids.  I can try to interpret things that I've seen and experienced -- but I've misinterpreted things.  So maybe the best thing to do will be to tell them about my experiences.

What things have you guys experienced that you've learned things from?

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Maybe I should have named this thread "Lessons we've learned in life".

We experience and see a lot of different things.  I was thinking about ridiculous advice people give, and it brought back a memory from my first year in University.

People try to argue "A girlfriend / wife / friend won't fill the empty void you feel when all alone.  And I have found that is nonsense. 

When you're with a friend, a girlfriend, your wife, you naturally start thinking about them.  It frees you up from only thinking about yourself.  You can go places and do things in public that you would be very uncomfortable to do alone.  You enjoy them because you are not overly focused on yourself.  

Sex doesn't make you into a man, or adult.  Having a wife, and kids, that you think about, and focus on, instead of yourself, changes you.  You would sacrifice yourself for them.  

 My first year at a four year University I lived in the dorms, and ate in the dining hall.  I remember being jealous, or at least envious, of one guy.  ALL of the girls were raving about him, and madly competing over him.  He was white, upper class, from South Africa.

He was in some of my classes and we became friends.  Not because I tried to become his friend, but because he was really friendly.

He was a good looking guy, but that wasn't the reason the girls were so infatuated with him.  It was his "personality".  He was "charming", but what did that mean?  So we all wanted to know what his secret was.

He had gone to expensive private schools, I think possibly boarding schools.  And they didn't just educate, they also taught "manners".  And it wasn't just simple things like not touching your face, or holding open a door, he said that they taught people not to talk about themselves, and really listen to other people -- and they practiced and practiced.  It worked extremely well!  

Personally I am no good at it, and it almost hurts my brain like I am trying to learn another language.  And I don't really know how to do it.  But if I did I would try to teach my kids.  I think I may try researching it.

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10 hours ago, 1badboy said:

People try to argue "A girlfriend / wife / friend won't fill the empty void you feel when all alone.  And I have found that is nonsense. 

It depends.  For me it went the other way sometimes.  I can report that feeling lonely when your girlfriend is with you is much worse than feeling lonely when you are alone. 

That feeling of being in a relationship where you have so little in common that you will be forever strangers, is hard to take.

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6 hours ago, likesToLick said:

It depends.  For me it went the other way sometimes.  I can report that feeling lonely when your girlfriend is with you is much worse than feeling lonely when you are alone. 

That feeling of being in a relationship where you have so little in common that you will be forever strangers, is hard to take.

I went on dates with women like that.  I felt uncomfortable around women who wouldn't talk.  For me being out with a woman who talked too much was always a good date.

 

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I guess the whole thing here for me is not so much what would I do - but would I do things back then with the confidence I have now?

It's sort of my mantra in life to have no regrets - so I've made unwise choices, I've missed out on opportunities by not having the confidence I have now. But it doesn't matter.

That girl I could never have talked to in a million years because she was so far out of my league...?  What did I have to lose?  Ten minutes embarrassment if she was head-too-far-up-her-own-arse to have taken me seriously?  I know now just to be myself, take me or leave me. Back then I would never have had the confidence to try, or to ask a second time.

So I guess living life over again with my current confidence would have perhaps led me down very different paths.

That in itself brings the Marty McFly Paradox - would I be sitting here with you fine folks if I'd taken different paths 20-30 years ago?  I probably wouldn't live in the village I do now, wouldn't have the friends I have now and would have experienced very different highs (and lows). If I was a single millionaire playboy, a rich businessman or for that matter if my family circumstances were different would I be sitting here typing and looking at clips of girls peeing?   As things stand, I think I'm ok here right now.

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It would make an interesting fictional story.  The consciousness of the person travels back in time and the person's life takes a whole different direction, repeatedly back to the same age -- when they have the option to go back and do it over.

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