For all young and lost

Don't trust your self.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “trust your self.”

It’s popular. It feels good. It’s even true.

As my dad likes to say, “We’re the ultimate experts of ourselves.” Nobody can tell you what life you should live, what to eat for breakfast, whom to date, and where to work.


When you’re young, trusting yourself is a double-edged sword.

Yes, it’s important to “follow your bliss” and all of that. But if there’s anything you lack in your twenties, it’s experience. (Also, wit, knowledge, and perspective.)

Choices that seem right at first glance (e.g., go travel the world with a backpack) might actually be stupid choices. Dreams that seem yours (e.g., become a multi-millionaire by 30) might not be such. Beliefs that seem right (e.g., all men should be financially successful) might be short-sighted.

As Stephen Colbert once noticed, “If we all had followed our first dreams, the world would be teeming with cowboys and princesses…”

The good thing about dreams is that they change. And so do we.

Making mistakes is part of the process, sure. But blindly trusting your young – and inexperienced – self might lead you astray.

Whenever I see 20-year-olds pushed to make decisions about their career, I think, “Do you really want to delegate making a decision about your entire future to a hormone-driven, sex-obsessed, YouTube-watching, vodka-drinking 20-year-old?”

A better option would be to seek guidance.

Not by blindly following other people’s advice – after all, you’ve got your own life to live – but by absorbing the perspective of wiser, older, more experienced human beings.

You don’t need a mentor. The Internet is full of brilliant people recording podcasts, giving commencement speeches, writing blogs. (If you need a start, watch this commencement speech, read this blog, and listen to this podcast.)

Have heroes and role models instead.

Always remember that to a sixty-year-old, twenty is a baby. (So is thirty and forty.) Experienced people see what you don’t see. They see the forest behind the trees, while you’re obsessed with “making it” and not looking bad on Instagram.

It’s not bad to ask for help when you need it. In fact, it’s a sign of wisdom and humility. The most successful people in the world were guided. (Even Luke Skywalker.)

If there’s one thing every young person needs help with, it’s perspective. Keeping the right mindset about your age, capabilities, and options.

Being grateful, patient. Not complaining or selfish.

When it comes to that, I say, “Don’t trust your self.”

Trust people who’ve walked the path before you instead.