What would you tell your 17-year-old self if you had the chance?

Let me take you back to a time when someone got the chance to.

A few months ago, a designer was giving a talk at my uni that took us through his life story in the projects he completed.

At the end, he opened up the floor for questions.

It started with the usual;

What was your favourite project you worked on?

Where was the best country to work in?

What should I do to get to your position?

Suddenly an image flashed into my head from the project I was working on earlier.

My ‘Stolen Property’ Publication — A collection of all my inspirations and influences that I can steal from.

The image was a quote, by the icon Virgil Abloh, projected onto a bridge billboard that I had screenshotted from someone’s story.

“Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself”

It got me thinking about what I would say if I had the chance to speak to my 17-year-old self.

I find this question so interesting because you can tell a lot about someone’s story from the answer they give.

So, I waited patiently and asked the designer standing in the front

“what’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self if he was sitting in these chairs”

A moment of silence.

He took a few seconds of thought to respond and you could feel his focus switch as all the anticipation was put on the answer.

He took a deep breath and looked directly at me, but you could feel he was talking to himself.

“Don’t sacrifice work you want to do to secure some money and feel well off and comfortable, work on the stuff that genuinely interests you and stuff you actually want to work on”

Another moment of silence, whilst everyone took in the words he had just spoken.

Then the room returns to normal and the noise returns and the chatter begins amongst others.

The words start sinking in.

It got me thinking back to my first few freelance design jobs and when I would say Yes to every opportunity that came my way.

At first, it worked, it brought in money, but it didn’t last and it never really satisfied me or was fully enjoyable.

At the time of the talk, I had only just started saying No to jobs more to protect my time.

It’s allowed me now to work on personal projects and stuff that genuinely interests me.

But hearing this made it set in deeper.

Now, I’m trying to be fully conscious of the jobs I take on and decide whether I’m doing it for the money or because I’m intrinsically motivated by them and it brings me something more than paying for rent.

So, if you were alone in a room with your younger self, what would you tell them?

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