Letter to My 21 Year Old Self

The following post was inspired by Kobe Bryant’s recent letter to his 17-year-old self. I’m writing this merely for fun… and for shits and giggles… This is merely for entertainment purposes…




Dear 21-year-old self,

As you read this, you are doing so in the middle of your Cal Berkeley undergraduate years. Despite what everyone else around you is suggesting, let me start off by saying that school is vastly overrated. That’s right… Most of the stuff you are learning today, you won’t later use even 1% of it…

That got your attention yet?

Good, let me continue. No, I’m not saying don’t work hard and give it your all, but like, try to focus primarily on developing an intuition for problem solving… Instead of being fixated on what the final answer is to your midterm question, or homework assignment problem set, ask yourself, “Just why exactly am I doing this type of work for? What’s the message that’s trying to be sent?

In many cases, you won’t find a good answer, and will conclude that all this bullshit is just a fucking waste of time… Don’t second guess that intuition, because oftentimes you will be exactly right… This shit is just a fucking waste of time… Never be afraid to call “bullshit” when you see it! But if you are serious about learning, pick up some DIY kits and teach yourself… Never stop being insanely inquisitive! You know, do like you used to do when you was a kid. Because in the real-world, ain’t nobody really problem solving engineering solutions using paper and pencil… Nah, for example, if the LED is too bright, you swap out the resistor value to say plus/minus 10% steps and go with the one that is roughly about right… And then you move on because who really has that much time to be wasting trying to find a “perfect” solution, when one doesn’t usually exist for these type of “trivial” problems?

That’s real engineering for you… Finding efficient solutions, even if they aren’t the most “accurate”. Oh, and if you can think outside the box and come up with an innovative solution that nobody else is using, that will take you far… Without giving away too much, I’m just gonna say, take ownership of your work and continually put out shit that you are proud of… You never know, you might just be onto something BIG!

Of course, school doesn’t ever teach you none of that real-world shit, and you’ll still earn low marks even if your solution is workable, but ain’t necessarily the exact one…


Anyway, if I know you, you are a cynical dude anyway, so it won’t be long before you realize all this for yourself…

Also, I know you like to go through life with a “chip on your shoulder”. For the most part, that’s all fine and dandy, b/c I know that you wouldn’t be who you are without that edge, but just try and realize it for what it is… Like, no matter how pissed off, angry, frustrated, or agitated you get with the world and other people who diss you along the way (because there will be plenty of those haters, trust me!), just keep perspective on everything… Bottom line is you are blessed beyond belief and you’ve got opportunities that most people around the globe don’t have access to… So, don’t take that for granted… If you still wanna walk around with some type of “faux edge”, though, because you think it helps you perform, so be it… Just know to keep it in check and only operate “between the lines”, so when the lights go off, it’s time to seriously check out, go home, and unwind a bit.

And while we are at that, stop pressing so much… You are too impatient!! Learn to realize that everything you want to accomplish takes a lot of time, and you won’t get miracles overnight. The world just doesn’t operate like that… If you learn to chill out, you’ll probably make a whole lot more friends in the process too. See, another problem with you is you waste a whole lotta time with people who really don’t give a shit about you… Stop investing in bad relationships that won’t ever make you happy… Learn to better read people and surround yourself with those who you are actually compatible with… You’ll thank me later for that.

When it comes to how to treat people, I say stick to your gut. Don’t let outsiders influence you and try to teach you what is right and what is wrong… Your mama raised you right, so use her as an example, when in doubt… Don’t buy into those stupid beliefs where you never give nobody an inch, you gotta make your presence felt, and you gotta command respect from everyone in the room to get ahead in life… All that is pure bullshit… Again, stick to your gut, and you’ll know what is right… If it’s keeping you awake at night b/c your conscious ain’t clear, you are doing it all wrong… There ain’t nothing wrong with giving more than you receive back… If people think you’re selling yourself short and being taken advantage of sometimes, that’s their problem, not yours… Follow your own standard, and who gives a fuck what anyone else wants you to be?

As far as relationships go? Well, shit, I can’t really help you there cuz I still don’t got that part of the equation figured out… One thing I have learned though, is that it’s better to be single than to settle… So, don’t ever make the mistake of doing that… Many people do, and they’ll later tell you, “Yeah, my life ain’t that great… I’m stuck with someone I can’t really stand…” Either that, or, “Marriage ain’t so great, bro… Trust me.” But I mean if you can find somebody really good (you lucky dog), you better hold onto her and not let her go! If not, just like everything else I been trying to tell you, be patient and good things will happen to you… eventually.

Oh, and don’t make the mistake of putting anyone on a pedestal… Maybe intuition tells you that you gotta sell yourself short to try and convince someone to like you, but that’s just stupid… If you make somebody else out to be the prize, they will never respect you (much less want to be with you)… and you will in turn never respect yourself… That’s a recipe doomed for failure.

And while we are at it, c’mon man, stop selling yourself short all the time… You got more potential than you realize… You ain’t exactly chopped liver, so stop shopping yourself around to the rest of the world as though you were… Perception should not be reality, but even though you are wired to give people the benefit of the doubt (letting your own internal filter do the work before forming an opinion), don’t assume that others will do the same for you… Cuz they probably won’t…

I hate to say it, but you aren’t exactly a natural people person… Call it fate or whatever, but people just instinctively do not like (or trust) you… You don’t have the right vibe, or look… It is what it is… Still, keep ya head up and your head on a swivel…

In business, you gotta be fucking cutthroat… Oversell yourself and your capabilities… Embellish and exaggerate if you have to… Doesn’t sound right, but that’s how you move on up… Bottom line is you won’t ever be considered a “hot commodity” unless there’s competition for your services… Hmm, I guess the same could be applied to relationships as well (it’s no wonder the players always seem to be winning… but don’t ever be a low-life sucker, that’s not you, son!)… Always try and separate out business and relationships… Business is very… cold. Don’t let that spill over into any kind of relationship… That would be really sad, if you were to let that happen… Please don’t.

Truth — This world operates on marketing and hype… It’s not what you know, it’s what you are perceived to know that matters… Ahh hell, it ain’t even that… It’s really ultimately about who you know… Get setup with the right networks, and you are gold… Don’t forget that, even if you don’t really care for any of it.

Still, despite that, you can still get pretty damn far in life through nothing more than: hustle, determination, grit, perseverance, tenacity, and a can’t stop, won’t stop mentality… which is good news for you… The other stuff ain’t really well-suited for your personality type b/c you don’t really like: attention, flash, glitz, hype, and all that crap… You know, the stuff that actually matters (to most people).




You will be tested.

Again and again.

Keep at it.


You just gotta believe…


Oh, and try writing every once in awhile… Call it a hunch, but I think you were meant to be more than just an engineer in life…






P.S. Don’t be an idiot, and know when to take breaks! Don’t push yourself too hard and stop trying to take on too much… Because if you burn out, everything will be for NOTHING! Health first and foremost, ALWAYS! Your dumbass better listen…

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4 years ago

Great letter and even better self-reflection at this new stage of your life.

One minor (read: major) gripe is the use of “Cal Berkeley.” As an alumnus, I’m sure you know it’s either one or the other, but never both. Same way that only those that don’t live/grow up in California refer to it as “Cali.” I’ll give you an out and say you probably wrote it that way so your readers that were unfamiliar with the shorthand wouldn’t be confused. =) Go Bears!

4 years ago

Amazing letter! I’m turning 40 next year and I’ve ton of things to say to my 20yo self!

I loved the section about learning and school. I’m a strong supporter of inquisitive mindset, curiosity and creativity.

Nice post!