It’s surreal, but just over ten years ago I graduated high school. The summer afterwards was a blast – I was playing baseball for the last time with the group of guys I grew up with, had the freedom of being 18 years old and done school, and was preparing to move to Southern California to play college baseball in a couple of months time.
I think it’s important to reflect, and with graduating high school a decade ago I have found myself reflecting on that particular summer often lately. As someone who works with a large amount of high school athletes, I thought it may be worthwhile to pen a letter with some tenets of advice to the 18 year old me.
The Senior class with our Coach at Nationals in August 2008
First off, college baseball will be the greatest time of your life. And it’s going to go fast – I know everyone keeps telling you that but you need to listen to them – it’ll go by even faster than they say.
For quite a while in your early adulthood you’re going to be angry and use it as fuel for motivation. Poor performances will eat you up and you’ll berate yourself. Any perceived slight from coaches, teammates, or friends will serve to motivate you. While channeling negative events into motivation is a positive quality, you’ll live in this mood 24/7. You probably won’t be the most fun to be around. And you won’t be very happy.
As Mark Twain wrote, “anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” Use your anger productively, but be in control of it, not the other way around.
“Only the end of the world is the end of the world.” You’re going to be thrown some major adversity with regards to your goals and you WILL find a way to overcome it but it’ll take longer than it should because you’ll live in the negative. Once you put the onus on yourself and take complete responsibility for everything that happens to you big things will start to happen. Life is happening FOR YOU, not TO YOU.
Coaching will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. It’ll take you a few years to figure out how to pick your spots though. Be tough on your players, but pick your spots to get on guys and the group a little less frequently and you’ll find your message will resonate better. Same thing with umpires – don’t give them a reason to not give you a call. With that said, players need to know you have their backs – just pick your spots.
When it comes to relationships: if you have doubts early on they will not go away and in fact will just grow into larger issues over time. You need to become 100% ok and happy on your own so that you can end up with the person you’re supposed to be with. Too many people rush into relationships because they’re scared of being alone and end up settling. Make a commitment to yourself you’ll only date someone if they check off all the boxes and they’re going to make you a better person. Make sure you’re actually really good friends with this person because initial lust only lasts so long. There needs to be multiple levels of connection.
Don’t give a fuck what people think. You’ll see the looks on their faces when they ask you what you do at 25 and you say you’re a baseball coach. People will think you’re crazy and weird for a certain life altering decision at 26. Trust your gut and make decisions based off of what you’ll think when you’re 80. You don’t want to have to live with the pain of regret because of the chances you didn’t take.
Some practical advice. When you start making ‘real money’ save at least a third of every single paycheque. You won’t do this for quite a while and it’ll cost you.
Lastly, the universe will answer. You just have to put out there what you want and work tirelessly to make it a reality.
It’ll be a crazy decade with a ton of winding turns and you’ll live all over the place and make some incredible friendships. Try to live in the now, and don’t look back wishing you were still there; or ahead because you just want to get to that point in your life. When you’re 28 you’re going to look back on all the different phases of your life fondly so be where your feet are and when you feel lost trust that things will work out how they’re supposed to if you work hard enough.