19 Things No One Tells 19 Year Olds

Your 20’s  are an important age.

You’re done with school (for the most part). You must make plans for what will happen next now. More importantly than anything, It’s time to cast off the notions that you are a child and need to be provided for.

You need to accept that your previous life as a boy or girl is over – utterly – and move forward with confidence into becoming a self reliant, self aware, world dominating hero.

I have no regrets. Only slight resentment that my own family did not guide me better as a young man and did not believe in me enough to instill the confidence every child and young person needs to be successful. If by some stroke of technological revolution would enabled me to transport myself to give guidance to my younger self, these are the 19 things I would tell a 19 year old me:

1) You will have to forgive people in your life.

No one comes from a perfect family. As a grown man I know now that peace of mind above all else is the main, long term goal of every person. The greatest obstacle to peace of mind however is anger followed up by blame.

Learn to forgive in order to live fully in the present. The people you must forgive are:

  1. Your parents – Living or dead. They did their best. At the very least they gave you life. You are not a child nor are you a victim. Drill that into your head and forgive.
  2. Idiots who have cheated you, stolen from you, done bad to you. Pitty people like this. That’s what they deserve (not your anger) because they don’t have the skills to be successful.
  3. Your previous relationships that did not work out.
  4. Yourself – A past you is always more immature and less developed. Don’t beat yourself up to much on the dumb, cruel or bad things you did. Make amends by being in top form in all aspects of your life.

2) You have to be really, REALLY good at what you do. No exceptions.

Your ability to work and deliver results is the basis of how valuable you will be in a market economy. That means, you have to be really good at what you do in order to command a high income for your services.

That means, your dumb ass doesn’t  go to school for accounting just because you want to get a job where you can get a high salary or attempt to become something you perceive as cool like a graphic designer if you’re not 100% sure that you can be world class in that career field.

If you fail to heed this advice what will happen is pretty simple. You will be fired from your accounting or finance job because you’re not good at it and are competing with people really have a nack for that sort of work.

You will be a mediocre graphic designer with no clients, struggling to find work because you did not take into account that NO ONE CARES about your GPA or your degree once you’re done with school. It’s all about results. End of fucking story.

3) You’re always self employed.

Begin to think of yourself as a sell employed person because you are. You always work for yourself and even if you have a job, that job is simply a reflection on your skills (people skills as well as earning power) and what the market is willing to pay for the service you offer. In another way, you’re the CEO of your own personal services corporation, and you’re out in the market offering your services to the highest bidder which in turn is your current employer.

Your goal should be to do something wonderful with your talents, skills and abilities and in order to do that you need to begin on your own personal quest toward that goal. Which means you don’t waste precious time.

4) College is good if you’re a top performer and will attend an elite college OR if you know what career you want to do.

Outside of these reasons, college is too much of a financial gamble if you’re young, penniless and clueless. Best to take a year and just figure your future out a bit (a gap year, hey like those smart Europeans). One thing is for sure, you will have a massive amount of debt to pay back and if you’re a fool of an accountant or a mediocre graphic designer then good luck!

Skip college until you have a specific goal.

Now I speak as an American from an American perspective. Education is so valuable just from the fact that you’re enriching your mind… but until it becomes less of a business where you graduate with a small mortgage, you need to be very careful as to not make a huge financial mistake.

You could always look at attending school in Europe too.

5) College does not guarantee money

Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you “become” a lawyer or a doctor or whatever you will be set for life. Go back to point 2. You have to be good at what you do. If you can’t be world class or are not willing to put in the time and effort to become world class at what you do (perhaps you don’t have the IQ to be a lawyer for example), give up and find something else.

College does not guarantee money. It puts you in debt first and foremost, it may give you the right connections if you go to a good school and it’s required for certain professions. But money is not something you get by going to school automatically.

The real truth is that making money is 100% up to you and your abilities and your ability to market yourself. You don’t need a degree to do this. In fact, would’t it be better to learn the skills needed to make money without a job instead of learning how to make money only at a specific career field?

An alternative to this is to also simply learn a trade. Why are trades so bad? My brother is an electrician. He does not have a 4 year degree, but is happy, finds purpose in his work, makes 50k+ a year and can have a life while being useful to society.

No, office jobs are the only way to go right? Think about this a bit more, college does not guarantee money.

6) Travel (or die without living).

You are an utter fool, 100% certified idiot if you never travel anywhere in the world. It may seem expensive, it may seem unrealistic. But it’s only that way because travel is not a priority in your life (and it should be). If your priority is work, saving for a house, kids, getting married then you will always find an excuse not to go anywhere. Make travel a priority. Visiting a truly foreign country like Myanmar, China or India will change your life for the better in so many ways. Check out my full moon video from Thailand for inspiration:

I’m in my 30’s, this sort of thing is exactly for a 19 year old. Why are you not here?

I know this sort of travel only ever remains a fantasy for most people, but it does not have to be. I’m American and I know how we think (can’t speak for other countries ). High school, then college, then work, then live for the weekends and take 2 weeks a year to go somewhere fun. Post pictures of beach you would like to visit on Facebook, think about how great it would be to live on an island.

I’ve done it. It’s not hard and you can do it too if you can manage to make $2,000 a month online which brings me to my next point for 19 year olds…

7) You really can make money on the internet.

As I cover in my Digital Presence: Plan, Build, Promote, Profit , they’re quite a few ways to make money from the internet. You can sell products, write Kindle ebooks, learn pay per click, provide a service on Fiverr or through your own website, you can make YouTube videos and link those videos to products, you can earn money from ad revenue.

It’s hard to make money from the internet because of point 2. You have to be really good at what you do. If you blog, you have to be great at networking, marketing and writing. If you’re a Kindle author you’re best bet is to learn email marketing and using a website or a social media platform as a lead magnet.

If I could do it over again, once I got to a point where I was making $2,000 a month reliably and saved up a couple thousand dollars I would have quite my job and headed over to South East Asia years earlier. In cities like Chaing Mai Thailand there is a large expat area…and we are not talking about the stereotypical fat old white dudes with young girls. I’m talking about the thriving co-working spaces where successful entreprenures go to network, work, hangout and have fun. I meet Danny Van Kooten in Chaing Mai. The guy behind MailChimp for WP. A WordPress plug-in with 200,000+ active installs and premium features that enable him to be self employed.

These are the kinds of people you need to get around to be successful. Not office monkeys. Not your loser friends doing nothing with their life.

8) Nobody wants you to succeed (at least outside of their expectations for you).

Your family and friends care about you, they want you to succeed… but on their terms, not yours. You see, in reality, NO ONE BELIEVES IN YOU. Not for any other reason that they fear your ambition. Fear that you may grow broke and damage yourself and your future. That you may be unable to live a happy and fulfilling life, or worse…you may be victorious.

Allowing you to live a life that shines a spotlight on the timid way they have chosen to live their life. Upsetting the dynamic of the relationship they have with you as you excel in physical and financial fitness and they are stuck at average.

9) Lift weights, run, eat right while you’re young.

Don’t be fat. There is no need for you to be. You will suffer from fat prejudice. People will think you’re weak, stupid, lazy and unmotivated even if that’s not the case. Fat people know how much it sucks to be fat. The stares, the comments. You know what though? The reverse is true to. When you’re in really good shape you also get stares and comments; but not out of scorn. Out of admiration and respect.

When you look strong, you look like you’re in control of your life. When you are strong physically, you feel better about yourself mentally. So lift weights, eat in a manner in that if it did not exist 200 years ago avoid it, run as you need to (some people are thin more naturally, others have to run to keep fat off). When you’re young you have everything going for you in order to build or rebuild an awesome body. Take advantage of it NOW. Right now.

Always remember, without your health you will be unable to enjoy any success you have achieved. Your health and strength are critical elements towards being in top form.

10) Don’t make women a priority in your life at 19. That’s just stupid.

You’re not in love, it’s just infatuation and even that feeling goes away within a relationship after about 3-4 years. Love is simply dedication and commitment to someone else so much so that you would be lost without them. Love is something you should worry about AFTER you have take care of priority number 1:

YOU

Like I wrote about in understanding men (a post for women as I get A LOT of dating questions from women), until you get your life in order, until you’re making the kind of income you want to be making, are in the shape you want to be in, are doing what you want to do OR are on the way to doing what you want to do – YOU have no time for a relationship literally and figuratively.

That does not mean you need to be alone, it just means don’t make women a priority. Hopefully you will find a smart woman who will see a go-getter and be OK with taking a back seat to your goals. Knowing that as your proverbial ship rises, you’ll take her with you (and you better if shes the type to love and support you!).

11) Work ethic.

We’re all lazy. This is why we have technology to begin with. Because we’re lazy and want to find a better, faster cheaper solution. It makes sense from a historical perspective. I accept that I am lazy at times. But be lazy in a way where you find better ways to do things. Not the kind of lazy where day in and day out you do little of what anyone would call work.

Doing hard work is a habit just the same as being lazy. You train yourself to either attack work head on, or to sulk away timidly from the your responsibilities. Do yourself a favor and try building this habit. Wake up early. Give it a full hearted try and see how it affects your productivity.

12) Don’t think of yourself through the filter of a career

Men get their identity from what they do for work and when you’re 19 and have no income to speak of and no promising career it can be alluring to want to “be” something career specific. You don’t need a career at 19. You have so many options and you have no idea where life will take you. Every 4 years you’re in a spot that is radically different from where you thought you would be. I’m writing this from Mandalay Myanmar right now. 4 years ago did I have any inclination I would be here. NO.

13) It’s OK to disappoint people. Say NO and stop worrying

It’s our most basic fundamental control we have. Say NO to some things so we can say yes to others. It comes down to priorities and if you can say yes to everything anyone asks you, your dreams are too small.

14) Avoid debt like the plague.

Want to be a slave? Go into debt. Look, you need to develop your credit history so use credit cards as a tool to get cash back, frequent flyer miles and to build your credit by paying off the balance in full at the end of every month. Don’t put anything on your credit card that you will be unable to pay off at the end of the month. It’s that simple.

15) Money is important so be concerned about obtaining enough of it to where you don’t think about it anymore.

“Money does not buy happiness” is eloquent bullshit. Yes I get the deeper meaning that happiness come from your relationships with other people bla bla bla.

You ever been broke?

I have and it’s terrible.

Money buys the things you want and need. Having money and financial security is critical towards your peace of mind. Earn as much money as you can, make yourself rich. Don’t limit yourself. Obtain your freedom fully in every way.

Invest conservatively and gradually move up the risk level. That means having $70,000 in a bank account as a security fund before you invest. Once you have your $70,000 in saving, invest in low risk investment vehicles like bonds and ROTH IRAs. As you move up the wealth meeter buy propety, have multiple bank accounts and become an angel investor if you obtain enough wealth.

16) Real life is like high school all over again.

People are idiots. People like to view themselves through a social group and thus become unwilling or unable to put their own thinking cap on. I’m a “feminist” or “liberal” or “Christian” or THIS political party or THAT political party. It’s all stupid. I argue all the time about politics with my brother. A self identified republican who told me “well I hate Mitt Romney but he’s our guy so I’ll vote for him”. It’s the future of our country you idiot, not a football game *facepalm*. You don’t have to vote for this person just because you’re both on team “republican”.

Just accept people will behave like this and let it go. Argue and debate ideas. It might be pointless, but it may have a slight chance of changing minds, but don’t lose your cool and get stressed over it.

17) The right way is the wrong way.

Always be on the lookout for improving your social circle. You need to talk to people who are doing what you want to do and make friends with them. Sometimes that means leaving old friendships. I don’t talk to my former friend Matt anymore. He’s fat, plays Call of Duty all day and works in a warehouse. We’ve grown apart for blatantly obvious reasons and the same will happen with you. People will grow with you, grow apart from you, or not grow and you’ll grow.

The right way is also the wrong way. Matt is one extreme, the other is doing everything “you’re supposed to do” – this will lead you to following all the rule, never taking risks and being taken advantage of.

18) High school is not the best time of your life, neither is college. Unless you design it that way.

You don’t have to design your life the way others tell you is best. One where you’re just working a job, are a bit fat and not enjoying your life. Look, you always have a future. Next time someone says “this is the best time of your life” just ignore them. Life is what you make it, and that’s the secret. It takes effort and a clear plan to build a great life.

It’s like streering a ship. Sure the wind can just take you whereever if you let it (normally into a rock formation), but if you take control of your ship there is no stopping you. Want a great life? Work at building one.

19) Get married, have kids when you’re older, if you want.

Yes there are exceptions like Mormons or those Hanson brothers who have 10 kids each. But for a 19 year old person don’t even worry about getting married and having kids. Look, it’s good to be married and it’s good to have kids. I see the joy and happiness it brings my 2 brothers. It’s a wonderful way to live your life as you get older but don’t rush. If you’re a man, good news. You have plenty of time. You can still date very attractive 20 somethings when you’re in your early to mid 30’s. You should be a man at this point, in great shape, making good money. You’re in your prime in your early 30’s

It’s true that once you start getting older (37+ or so) than that, dating younger girls (girls in their mid 20’s) is harder as they want a peer not a father figure. So just be mindful to start taking your dating life seriously when you hit 27 or 28 as a man and maybe 24, 25 as a girl.

BONUS: It does not matter where you’re coming from, all that matters is where you’re going.

You’re doing your best. You’re only human. Be proud of yourself. Be proud of your background and where you come from. Stand up for yourself. I argue all the time with stupid Thai people who criticize America, our policies, say we take too much from the world but then ignore all the inventions and freedoms we gave them like their smart phones, Facebook and Instagram. You can’t even criticise the government in countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar openly. They don’t even have engaging news programs where the president or prime minister could be called names. SO be proud of where your from and don’t shy away of who you are and what you are. If your an American, say your American. Don’t be cowardly when abroad and say that you’re from Canada or something silly like that.

You’re black, your white, you’re brown. Never allow anyone to make you feel less.

Final Words

You can become something you never were because it never really matters where you’re coming from. All that matters is where you’re going.

Get to work and good luck,

-David