Dear 15-year-old me,
The angst that you’re experiencing throughout the day as you sit in mind-numbing classes, wondering if there is a purpose out there that will somehow transform life into a high-octane, unforgettable and meaningful experience – it’s perfectly normal! In fact it’s good. It means you’re thinking about the big life issues and you’re coming to realize that a secular life pursuing material success isn’t going to ultimately fulfill you. Find people you can relate to and genuinely care about, and enjoy your last few years of living a carefree life. It will all soon change.
Dear 20-year-old me,
Don’t think you’re such a tzaddik (righteous person) just because you now wear a kippah and learn in yeshiva. You are still self-centered and arrogant, and you’ve got a lot to learn. Get out of yourself and give to others, and really try to put the Torah you’re learning into practice. The greatness you yearn for needs to be earned through incredibly hard work and commitment. It's not going to be handed to you. So get going.
Dear 25-year-old me,
You’re getting closer but you’re not quite ready to get married. Don't rush it. You’re still too wrapped up in yourself to be ready to commit yourself fully to another person. Think about others. Work on acquiring the traits now that you need for marriage. And when you do start dating for marriage, get a dating mentor to ensure that you remain objective and don't get swept off your feet. It’s great that you have life goals that you’re passionate about – start making them a reality.
Dear 30-year-old me,
Don’t let the fear of failure choke your dreams. That only guarantees failure. Believe in your strengths, know your weaknesses, and realize that the Almighty is rooting for you and is the ultimate source for everything. Go make your mark on the world. Marriage takes daily nurturing. Make sure your wife feels that she is your number one priority. And make sure that she is. Shower your kids with love.
Dear 35-year-old me,
By now you’ve realized that you are not in control. Man plans, God laughs…. It’s true, so don’t fight it. Embrace it and look for the good in things. Even if you can’t see the blessing right now, remember that God knows what He’s doing and is looking out for your best interest. You really don’t know better than God, even though you still sometimes think you do. Celebrate your successes, don’t take them for granted. Shower your kids with love. And no matter how busy you are, make time to play with them.
Dear 40-year-old me,
Do not give up on any of your dreams and ambitions. Rabbi Akiva just started to learn Torah when he was 40 – so keep learning and growing. Be consistent with your values and goals – your children are learning from the model you set. Appreciate your wife and make sure you are still nurturing your marriage. That's how to ensure your love will be even than it was when you were 30. Shower your kids with love. And no matter how busy you are, and no matter how old you think you are, make time to play with them.