Don't be your older brother. Or Ryan Gosling. Or Eric Jones, the most popular kid in 8th grade. You are you because there are things about you that nobody else on this planet can mimic. Be proud of that.
Listen to people. Listen to everyone. Listen to anyone for that matter. Listen more than you open your mouth. Nobody cares about the time you snuck out of your apartment and egged Mr. Wignall's house, they want you to listen to how frustrated they were when their little sister passed away from cancer. Actually pay attention to the details of other people's lives and see how they view you as a friend. Laugh at their jokes, and cry at their swan songs.
Grow a pair. Ask her out. She's just as nervous as you are when it comes to finding a potential mate, so what is so difficult about making eye contact with her after Math class and inviting her to dinner? Listen to what she says. Open her door. Give her your coat. Tell her she looks beautiful every single time you see her. And when you're walking her home and can see her lower lip shaking, grab her hand and give her a smile. Don't be afraid when you're both standing on her porch. Be the man she wants and be the man she needs in her life.
Suit up. Take a shower and shave your beard for her while we’re on this topic.
Disconnect to connect. Pay more attention to the words she is telling you at midnight at Denny's than the foam dance party Tallon Robertson just invited you to on Facebook. Stop caring about your status. Or likes. Or comments. Or upvotes. Or Tweets. Stop reading this blog every single day and go outside and meet a stranger. Make a phone call to an old friend you haven't talked to in three years that used to shoot hoops with you when everyone else had gone to sleep. Talk to a person without using your thumbs.
The glass is half full. Don't be Mike Mangum or Jesse Himebaugh and think a sarcastic comment is the best response to what she just said.
Because it isn’t.
Ask questions. Every single day. Question life. Question your professors, your classmates, your peers, and your friends. Question the big man upstairs when you're on your knees every night. Question yourself. Wonder about what you are doing here this very moment and why you are doing it.
Learn something new. Every single day. Learn about foreign politics and weather patterns and 17th-century French poetry. Learn about color-coded personalities and the traits of someone struggling with depression. Learn how to change the oil on your 2010 Nissan Rogue. Learn a new word. Learn a new language. Learn your own language while you’re at it. Watch The History Channel instead of MTV. Learn about the things you call mysteries. Learn about the things you could have learned back in high school.
Learn about the things that you couldn't.
Work your tail off. Work on things that matter. Forget about beating Bioshock Infinite or landing a 180 kick flip. Work on things that will actually make a difference in your life like writing a literature review, or giving a stellar public speech, or installing a sprinkler system. Work on your senior thesis when everyone else is out playing sand volleyball. Work on yourself when no one else is watching you. Work on your weaknesses, and work on your faults.
No seriously, care about something other than yourself.
Care about everyone. Care about your family. Care about your friends. Care about your enemies. Care about the toothless veteran holding a cardboard sign just off the 5300 South exit begging for money. Care about who is running your country. Care about who isn’t. Care about the World Series and the Nobel Prize. Care about donating money to a cause greater than iTunes. Care about your character, about your relationships, about your personal beliefs. Don't expect people to actually care about you.
Because most of them actually don’t.
Remember the glory days of your life. The time you first met your Dad, the time you ran a marathon, or the time you kissed her in the parking lot while it was raining. Remember the road trip you took to California with your college roommates. Remember the good times. And remember the bad times. Because those are the times that really made you who you are now. The time you had to give away your pet turtle. The time Mark Pledger punched out your front tooth. The time you made fun of her for being bulimic. Or the time you hid Matt Valdez’s cigarettes from the cops.
Change yourself one small bit today so the person you are in ten years will seem like a stranger. Enjoy the little things. Catch your breath for a few minutes. Give them a hug when neither one of you are expecting it. And hold on to them just a little bit longer, because who knows, you may never get that chance again.
Smile. Be calm, and go call your Mother even when you don't need to.