THETDWS: Really, Really, Really

This Has Everything To Do With Surfing

Illustration by Noa Emberson

There are too many clichés regarding the all too human act of reflecting on the past. "Hindsight is 20/20," they say, or, "If I only knew then what I know now..." Or even, "YOLO." And these clichés are tired and lazy, like all clichés, but they are also true, like most clichés. The damning fact is that we are headstrong when we are young, disregarding all advice. Doing what we want to do. Doing what we know is best. Our parents, teachers, pastors and uncles chirp away, telling us this and telling us that, but we, we wave our middle fingers in the air. Waving them like we just don't care because we are young.

But, dear youth, there is wisdom in age and so listen carefully, you little f–kers. The one thing that I sort of guessed when I was young but didn't really know for sure was that all things are possible. As an adult I know this is a concrete fact. I know that all things are possible without exception.

And how would I have lived differently had I known this as a concrete fact? I can't say for sure. I may have taken a few more wild chances, though I did take quite a few. I may have robbed a bank before I was 18 because then I would only have gone to juvenile hall. But on to you. What should you do? I will tell you, so listen carefully, you little shits.

Do whatever it is that you really, really, really want. But really, really, really want it. And make sure you have a modicum of aptitude in whatever it is that you want. You don't have to have loads and heaps of talent but you need enough, otherwise you will become ashamed and quit and end up waiting tables at Applebee's. If, for instance, you want to become a professional surfer and you have no style and are not winning heats in NSSA or Junior events then discard that desire and focus on something in the same realm. Like become a surf journalist or a photographer or a clothing designer. But become the best surf journalist or the best photographer or the best clothing designer. Own it. And don't do it like everyone else either. Find a unique angle that you and only you can hit, and hit it. Find the loopholes and the bizarre nooks and make them yours.

If you are going to university -- and you should go to university -- then study something obscure. Business, English and communications are all terribly boring and not useful. University study is, in general, not useful. But that is not why it is essential. It is essential because it makes you an interesting person. It makes a gorgeous woman's eyes dance when you say, "Ahh, yeah. I majored in atmospheric science or Latin or naval architecture..." It makes her want to take you home and tell her gorgeous friend, "My man has a master's degree in applied linguistics." It makes potential employers think, "What the hell is this young person doing in my office?" But you are in his office. So you use your robust personality and the fact that you really, really, really want whatever you are there for to bully him into carrying out your wishes. All things are possible.

If you are not going to university then do what you must to survive. Work at a gas station, clean swimming pools, join a forest fire crew, but use every ounce of your real energy to create something else amazing. A blue-collar boy who oil paints or has a ridiculously comprehensive stock portfolio is as sexy as anything.

Know, in the end, that earning tons of money takes a good decade of really, really, really wanting and finding your angle and attacking. There is no such thing as an overnight success. And maybe money is not your aim, nor should it be. But you should live your life, even when poor, like you are rich or rich-ish. You should live one level above your actual station. Buy a sick, older Rolls-Royce instead of a brand-new Toyota Tacoma. Buy a scuffed pair of used Prada loafers instead of a new pair of Cole Haans. Look the part. But if you want lots of money and you want it now, rob a bank. Just do it before you turn 18. --Chas Smith