Matt Forney
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What I Would Tell My Fifteen-Year Old Self

Recently, I received the best belated birthday present a guy with minor Internet fame could get. Ten plus years of writing in some form or another and it’s paying off in the most spectacular fashion imaginable. Half the men in this country would commit mass murder to be me right now.

But as I was leaving the airport, I thought to myself: I could have had all this five years ago.

It took me this long to get to this point because I spent most of my life floundering around without a goal or any idea what I wanted to do with myself. Had I figured this stuff out earlier, I’d have spared myself years of pain and tribulation. With that in mind, if I were to somehow get my hands on a time machine, here’s the wisdom I would give to my teenage self.

1. Don’t go to college.

This will give your parents a heart attack (and shock about half the people at school), but trust me, it’s for your own good. You want to be a writer? You don’t need to spend four years and $50,000 to learn something you already know. All your English professors will teach you is how to be a bland, skittish Beigeist loser, when they’re not making you read crap by Robert Creeley or Toni Morrison. You’d be far better off going hitchhiking across America—or cashing out and heading to Brazil to get laid and snort cocaine—than going to college for a liberal arts major.

At least with the former, you’ll enjoy yourself and get some fun stories.

If you absolutely must go to college, major in something useful like engineering or math. I know you hate math, but any major that doesn’t involve it is a waste of time and money.

2. Start working out.

Nobody likes fatasses, and the only way to stop being one is to work at it. Use some of your retail monkey wages—not like you need them for anything else—and get a gym membership. At the same time, stop eating sugar and pasta. It’s going to be an uphill struggle given that half the people you know are fat—and none of the people you know are willing to give you the encouragement you need—but a little sweat now will pay dividends later.

3. Start playing the guitar.

Every single one of your musical instructors, mentors and friends has said that you’ve got talent, yet here you are wasting it by playing the trombone and barely putting in the minimum for that. Quit playing video games, head to that crappy music store down the street, buy a Strat and start taking lessons. It will suck in the beginning, but then again, learning how to play the trombone when you were ten wasn’t that fun either, and you persevered through that.

Practice the guitar for fifteen minutes a day every day and you’ll be a master before your first semester of college.

Plus, if nothing else, chicks dig a guy who can play the guitar. It’s practically in their DNA.

4. Stop listening to your parents.

Mom and Dad aren’t bad people, but the problem is that they’re not much more informed about the world then you are. They really do think that it’s still 1979 and that you’ll be able to achieve the same high-earning, white picket fence married lifestyle that they pulled off. Take their advice and the most you’ll end up with is a $38,000/yr office job and biweekly sex with some fat-faced harridan. You don’t have to ignore them entirely, but take everything they tell you with a grain of salt.

Remember that the only person who will look out for your interests one hundred percent of the time is you.

5. Start hustling online.

The Internet is still relatively virgin territory, meaning you can make a killing with the right amount of work and know-how. Skip the politics and start some affiliate marketing sites. Even if some fail, one will eventually succeed, and you’ll be able to make a living without having to report to a boss or being chained to wherever you happen to live. In this country, freedom is money, and the more of it you have—and the more of it you can earn on your own—the more you can live your life the way you want.

6. Stop caring what other people think of you.

Your classmates may be nice people—most of them anyway—but you’re never going to speak to them again once you graduate. Same goes for most of the other people you interact with on a regular basis. You have no reason to give a crap what they think about you. In fact, most of them don’t even really notice you; they’re too wrapped up in the inane psychodrama of their own lives.

7. Finally, stop “respecting” girls.

Mom may have told you that the way to get a girlfriend is by being nice and polite, but Mom grew up in an era when people were still sane. If you want to get laid, start treating girls like shit. Look at the guys you know who are getting laid the most and/or are getting the hottest girls; they are unapologetically masculine and do their own thing. Nice guys, timid guys go home dick in hand.

Sorry if you fantasized about being the white knight, but you weren’t born in an era of chivalry, you were born in an era of knavery.

It’s far better to assume that all women are backstabbing whores, because the majority of them are: the good ones are like bits of corn in a diarrhea-filled toilet bowl. Hardening your heart will make it that much more difficult for girls to break it. To put it another way, if your expectations for humanity are low enough, you will never be disappointed.

I know this advice will help you out, because it helped me out; I just didn’t have anyone to tell it to me. Good luck!

Read Next: Re-Review: Around the World in 80 Girls: The Epic 3 Year Trip of a Backpacking Casanova by Neil Skywalker