Discover more from Culturcidal by John Hawkins
Seven Things I Wish I Could Go Back in Time and Tell Myself When I Was Eighteen
Writing this type of article is always difficult for a variety of reasons. For one, it needs to be general enough for people to get something out of it, while any messages you want to send to yourself tend to be super specific. You know, “Buy Google, Lisa is crazy, and that time when the condom breaks? Don’t sweat it. She doesn’t get pregnant.”
On top of that, things turned out pretty well for me, so there is no, “Don’t take that first hit of heroin, bro” or “Robbing houses is no way to make a living” advice to give. So, we’re talking about changes that mostly take place at the margins – but, we’re not even supposed to say that, are we? We’re supposed to go, “I did it my way, I regret nothing, and those mistakes made me who I am today, so they’re good!” Except, is that really true? Who knows? Maybe if you fixed those mistakes, you’d be managing your billion-dollar fortune and getting a back rub from your hot wife on your own private island right now… or maybe not.
Either way, I’m always game to try to get better, and as the saying by the great man Socrates goes:
This is me examining my own life, thinking about some general mistakes I made when I was young, and thinking about how I could have been better. Guess what? If you’re making the same mistakes that I was, you can get better, too – and we all need that. Some of us more than others (if you’re a professional criminal, journalist, influencer, or politician, I’m looking at you right now).
1) If it’s something you will use a lot, spend more and get better quality: When I was young, I was poor, and naturally, like a lot of people in that position, I always wanted to spend as little as I could. The problem with that is no matter who you are, there’s a time and a place to bite the bullet and spend a little more money to get a better piece of equipment. Even until my mid-thirties, despite the fact I was working on the Internet, I often bought cheap computers, cheap office chairs that hurt my butt, and lousy mattresses that didn’t cost much, but also caused me to not sleep very well. As UFC great Khabib Nurmagomedov would say:
It’s okay to be cheap on things that don’t matter much, but if it matters, treat it like it matters instead of trying to save a few bucks.
2) 99% of people judge books by their cover. Dress appropriately: As a young man, I had a naïve view of the world that was in retrospect, far too shaped by the classic pop culture messages of the day. Admittedly, they weren’t unhealthy messages per se, and they are still a big part of my core beliefs. Things like, “It’s character that counts!” “Always do the right thing!” “What matters is who you are on the inside!” Many of you are probably going, “But John, those are true! You talk about them all the time on Culturcidal.” I do and they are important. Let me repeat that, but with more capital letters for emphasis: THEY ARE IMPORTANT.
However, there is a dual reality to the modern world that is also true and that is, “Most people relentlessly, ruthlessly, without even thinking about it, will judge a book by its cover.” So, for example, for a long time, I didn’t put a lot of thought into things like hair, clothes, or style of any sort really. I would go out in not particularly well-fitting polo shirts and khakis, with a lame haircut, and just didn’t give a damn. A man by the name of Robert Ringer changed my mind about that and eventually, it led to me understanding that clothing, grooming, and haircuts mattered an awful lot. He also convinced me to have metal business cards, but that’s another story:
Granted, I’m still no Connor McGregor on the style front, but I have learned that by doing pretty much anything at all, you get well ahead of the 80% of men who are essentially doing nothing, just like I did when I was younger.
3) Eat mostly whole foods and a gram of protein for every pound of lean body weight you aspire to have: Today, there is still a tremendous amount of controversy about what the healthiest type of diet is, but what we can say definitively is that it certainly wasn’t what they were recommending when I was young. Back then, they were essentially promoting, “Low fat, high carb, lots of margarine, meat is bad, grab some cereal and a frozen diet dinner and you should be great!”
While I am certainly not going to be the one to solve the raging, “What is the perfect diet debate,” I do feel very comfortable in saying that if you eat mostly whole foods, you’ll probably be eating better than 90% of the American population and you’re highly unlikely to gain weight. Maybe you’ll be the one guy who plumps out on steak, eggs, spinach, tomatoes, and blackberries, but seeing one nun walk by a whorehouse doesn’t make it a church.
As for protein, as someone who has lifted weights all my life, I found that eating a gram of protein for every pound of lean body weight I was trying to work my way up to made it much easier to add muscle and is very satiating. As an extra added bonus, because your palate adjusts over time, once you get used to eating high protein and whole foods, the horrible standard American diet simply isn’t going to be the draw it used to be. For me, it used to be kind of like, “Mmmmmm, pizza,” and now it’s like, “That’s going to be so greasy, I’m going to sleep bad and I’ll feel sick tomorrow morning if I eat too much of that.”
4) Classes/teachers beat self-study 9 times out of ten on anything you don’t love: As someone who has read north of a thousand books but was a “C” student in both high school and college, I was thrilled to be done with going to classes – and initially, I didn’t think I needed them. I was smart and books exist, right? YouTube exists now, right? So, why did I need teachers, classes, trainers, and mentors? Well, as it turned out, with some things, I was so obsessed that learning about them came naturally. However, how many things does that describe in anyone’s life? Usually not many – and as with everything else, I have found that I learn better with “help.”
Sure, I can learn how to do Muay Thai movements, squats, deadlifts, and benches from YouTube, but without an experienced teacher/trainer there watching my movement and giving me feedback, I found that I usually didn’t do them right. I got more out of one week of professional firearms training with a Glock than I did out of all my trips to the range since. I learned more in a week-long camera class than by reading multiple books and taking thousands of shots. Getting a little skin in the game and access to an expert? That’s the way you really become proficient in most new skills. It doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t try to learn things on your own (I still do), but that can also easily turn into months of putting it off, only to watch a couple of YouTube videos, do it wrong and then give up in frustration. You get a teacher? You get a trainer? You pay someone? You commit? Then you’ll learn the skill well enough to use it.
5) Almost every girl you think likes you, who isn’t making money off of being nice to you, actually does: When I was a teenager, I was really, really bad with women. Even when they were practically waving me into the hangar, I still had no idea what was going on. It was like I was blind; they were doing sign language and I didn’t know what was happening. Then, a funny thing happened. After regularly working on it by talking to women and learning about the subject, I started to get good at reading the subtle signals ladies throw off, but I had no confidence that I was right. It was like those dumb memes:
Now? I get it, I can read female sign language and I understand how much easier it would have made life if I had gotten it back then. Especially since, once you get used to it, it just doesn’t matter if you’re wrong because nobody explodes if you ask a girl out and she’s not interested. It’s a little like being a fisherman. You love the fish you caught, but you can’t help thinking about all the ones that got away.
6) Treat friendships with the importance they deserve: You ever heard someone say:
It’s certainly true that a lot of anger, irritation, and annoyance comes from other people, but you could also say, “Heaven is other people.” Except like the real heaven, there are probably a lot less people there than there are in hell. Friends are some of those people and they are one of the best parts of life. Of course, all friendships end eventually, one way or the other (You know what I’m talking about and yes, that is dark, but still…), but when you find someone who means something in the sh*tty sea of humanity that is Planet Earth, you shouldn’t just abandon them without a fight unless you have a really good reason. Now me? When I was younger? I was a little too casual about letting friendships lapse.
It was mainly because of a weird, little idiosyncrasy of mine. You see, I had a number of friendships over the years where I ended up being the one who would usually initiate contact. I’d reach out on chat, call, suggest hanging out, etc, things would generally go really well, but then again, I would end up being the one to reach out the next time as well. As I got older, I learned that different people have different styles of communication and that it didn’t necessarily make much difference who was reaching out to whom, but at the time it felt more like I wasn’t important to them. Like it was a slight that they usually didn’t call me first. It wasn’t, but it felt that way, and eventually, I would stop reaching out to these friends, they probably assumed that I WAS THE ONE who lost interest, and those friendships mostly withered on the vine. Like a relationship, once a friendship has run its course, it’s hard to crank it back up. In retrospect, I should have known better. It doesn’t mean I’d still be friends with all those people today, but if I were still tight with one or two of them, that would be a valuable thing.
7) Don’t major in minor things: We live in an age of time wasters like no other in all of recorded history and unfortunately, I’ve learned that the hard way at times in my life. I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing video games, on social media and just randomly chatting with strangers on message boards who I will never meet, truly befriend, or make part of my life. As I have gotten older, I have gotten better at minimizing these distractions.
People who know me well? Those will tell you it can be hard to immediately get in touch with me because I don’t get notices about emails or texts, and I may not answer the phone half the time. Guess what? They ADJUST and accept that when they need to talk to me, there is going to be some lead time.
Video games? I don’t have any on my computer, in part because I don’t want to go down that time-consuming rabbit hole. TV? I don’t have regular cable. What am I missing? Seinfeld reruns? Cable news telling me I should be really angry about the stuff I saw on Twitter 8 hours earlier? Please. Speaking of Twitter, I do still spend time on social media, but I also track it with an app to make sure I don’t start wasting hours doing this:
I don’t know what the unimportant distractions are in your life, but I’d say it’s highly likely you have some and if you’re not careful, they will steal years, maybe even DECADES combined from your life. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun or enjoy yourself but do everything you can to get the most bang for your buck. Think about what you love and benefit from the most, then minimize all the endless, time-wasting bull-sh*t that you will barely even remember, much less care about five years from now.