27 Comments
Jan 26Liked by Ben Wakeman

I would tell my younger self to go and ask Ben's older self for 10 pieces of advice to live by.

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Jan 26·edited Jan 26Liked by Ben Wakeman

Oh, Ben, this is so wise and kind and dear. I kept saying "uh-huh" out loud while reading. It's an awkward format, but I'm moved to respond directly (TL;DR!):

1. Holy wow, yes. Same same. Being told how special, how gifted, talented, etc. It's crushing. Somehow I internalized it to mean - I better be those things and prove myself constantly if I want to be loved.

2. 😂 nailed it

3. OMG this one. Lifelong. Classmates who not only have their own firms but their work wins prestigious awards and/or is featured in the New York Times. (PS - John Mayer . . . *sigh* I'm sorry.)

4. So so so TRUE. Finally, it hit me - go for what you LOVE. Could someone have taught me this earlier? To listen to and heed my heart?

5. Drawn by a finger in the dirt of a back car window in a parking lot: "Kindness costs nothing."

6. Brilliant. My husband is so good at this. (Yes, I know how lucky I am, and no, I don't always act like it.)

7. I just love that you noticed the word "pay" and pointed it out. I'm fascinated that #1 and this one are shadows of each other. I want - I don't want - I want - I don't want. And, 100% YES - the cure is right there, in outward action. (See #5.)

8. #1 rule of writing (I forget who said this - was it Vonnegut?): "Don't be boring."

9. Brilliant. This one accomplishes for me the point made in #8 - I never thought about it this way before.

10. So good. I had a client who was a fabulously talented concert violinist, part of the Peabody Trio. After a concert where she defied the laws of physics, she said backstage, "I was so nervous." That surprised me. She affirmed that she's always nervous before a concert and she's learned to channel that energy into her performance. It's the spark we felt in the audience, fear transformed into love.

Thank you for this jolt of inspiration today. Didn't know how much I needed it.

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This one hurt, Ben. In the way it needed to.

The last line brought me to tears. The kind that sneak up on you so fast you have to throw your hand over your mouth to make sure no one in the next room hears you gasp.

I'm not sure what to do with all of this advice. I felt myself saying "yeah, but how?" and "I know, but I can't" a lot. Sometimes getting over a "self" feels like the biggest hurdle. The one getting in the way of all the smaller, more manageable hurdles.

Anyway. I was paying attention to you today. For what it's worth. 💜🙂

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I needed this, thank you. I am point no.2. Performing for an unappreciative, hard to appease audience of one. Must stop this nonsensery.

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Wow, I love all of these -- particularly #1 and #7. I am still learning many of these! Here's my advice to my younger self:

People will tell you, "Don't take yourself so seriously." Listen to them. Also, your potential is infinite but your capacity is more limited than you can imagine. You can't do everything, fix everything, be everything for all people.

Learn to listen to your heart and to live in alignment with what some of the mystics call the "true self". At the very least, learn to recognize when you are living to satisfy someone else's expectation versus living deeply from your heart.

Lastly, come to terms with the reality that your understanding of anything -- everything -- is limited by your perspective. Others have a perspective that you never will, so temper that insistence that you absolutely know a better way.

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Jan 29Liked by Ben Wakeman

Ben, this is just so generous, I'm bowled over. I don't think I'll ever forget what you wrote about Alvin Ailey, how helpful that visual is, and the reminder of how easy it to project the idea that everyone else is fine, and not scared. 'You must know what you want to get it' felt so confronting to read! I'm so guilty of getting lost in just taking things in, and then doing things with no real plan or extended foresight. Reading that felt like being parented, and it was actually very moving, so thank you.

In terms of my younger self, I think I would say 'Nothing lasts'. I know, it's so obvious, but I used to get so caught up in whatever I was feeling, good or bad, that I experienced it as though it was going to be my forever state, and it caused a lot of unnecessary suffering.

Thank you for this. I made a pdf of it and I have it saved on my desktop for when I need a good talking to :)

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Jan 27·edited Jan 27Liked by Ben Wakeman

So much emotion in this one! You’ve been so close to something only few catch, that elusive fame, the ones who ‘made it’. And from what you write I can grasp how dizzying that must have been. How the pull of its gravity and consequent release out of its orbit must’ve left you blinded for many years. It’s so easy to blame yourself. Don’t. So many people don’t come even close, don’t even dream of coming this close. You were born in a country that makes it possible, perhaps, somehow, sometimes, to some ‘chosen ones’.

This is what I would tell my younger self: Write. You will end up writing anyway. So just write.

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Jan 26Liked by Ben Wakeman

Spot on list, Ben. Yes to all of these. Yes to #10, it is a central mantra that has helped in many situations.

I was nodding along to all of this list, much like everyone else reading this, I imagine.

I laughed at #2, because that's exactly what I do. It's so ridiculous. I'm in my 40s now and I still find myself worrying about what everyone thinks, despite my wife's polar opposite (and inspiring) attitude. It's lessened over the years, but it is still a trait that remains.

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Jan 26Liked by Ben Wakeman

Especially like "give freely" - time, attention, kindness, assistance - it is it's own reward, and rarely regretted.

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I hope every teen and twenty something reads this. It is essential. It is essential, because all that it really says is build your own life. Don't expect the 'right' answers to pop into your head. Don't presume that the 'right' answers will come from people you have relied upon. Dare to fail, but don't give up. I have been broke a number of times, but I have never been poor.

Like you, perhaps, my parents raised their children to think there was nothing we couldn't accomplish. They forgot to tell us it would take continual effort, and that we would face adversity. Not everybody loves us, and they cannot be expected to.

I'm looking back on all this, now. Things seem much easier to see. Let's say my vision has improved. The movie, The Truman Show" has been having a resurgence. If you haven't seen it, watch it. There's a reason for that movie. It's a very funny comedy, but there is a discomforting undercurrent. Truman is living his life literally following someone else's script. For too many people, that is indeed their life.

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