Life is a balancing act. However much some ideologues might promise it to us, we cannot have everything we want. When we choose one path, another path is lost to us. This is why it is important to have good critical thinking skills, strong values, good character, and a powerful code of ethics. Such things will help you choose the smarter choices more often than not.
We have a belief around youth today that it is something that you should just enjoy from day to day. To be relaxed and let things fall as they may. I wish it were really so. It isn’t however. By the time I give you these letters, you will be making important choices that will shape your future already: the friends you make, the interests you hone, the skills you nurture, the first crushes you develop, the activities and exercise that you get… these are all going to make a difference to how your future shapes up. You can make those choices unconsciously, and end up with the life you wander into, or consciously, and create a life pretty close to the one that you want.
I wandered, and there are a lot of things I regret about that. I want to encourage you t0 understand that right now, you are preparing to enter into manhood, and whether you will be happy, healthy, wealthy, or successful – whether you will have a family, or be an attractive bachelor – whether you will work humbly or leave a lasting mark on our cultural landscape are all things that you will start shaping now.
You don’t need to dedicate your life to becoming the greatest swordsman in the world, or learn everything their is to know about a certain kind of business right this moment. You should enjoy this time of your life. You should have fun, and explore. But also remember that there are choices you will be making that will shape your future, and look out for them.
Especially be wary of choices about sex, drugs, breaking laws, learning skills, which friends to make, which crowds to run with, and what new things you try. Make choices that reflect the good, honest, and strong Man I have always tried to teach you to be. Whenever possible, reflect on what your values are, choose accordingly. Try not to close off options to yourself by committing crimes, hanging out with toxic people, having sex before you are ready, or risking the dangers of serious addictions – they close too many doors. Try to open the doors that volunteering your time, making friends with good people, getting a good education, being polite, and trying out new things will open for you.
And know that I trust you to become the kind of man I expect you to be. And I will always try to be there to help you make those choices, when you want help.