The wise man learns from someone else’s mistakes, the smart man learns from his own, and the stupid one never learns. – Russian Proverb
I’ve had quite a bit more success in life than most twenty-eight year olds. But I’ve also endured some self-inflicted setbacks. I don’t dwell on these mistakes, but I do try to learn from them. If you’re a young man trying to figure out life, maybe you can learn from them too.
Here are five mistakes I made in my early twenties, and how you can avoid making them yourself:
Mistake #1: Taking A Gap Year
Shortly after finishing school, I spent a year traveling through Southeast Asia, India and Europe. It was an incredible experience. It opened my eyes to the sort of life I wanted to live. I met generous and interesting people all over the world, friends who I hope to stay in contact with for life. I wrote a book. I became a better person.
But, I made one big mistake during my time abroad: I treated it like a “Gap Year.” I spent too much of my time partying, chasing girls, sightseeing, and dicking around.
It was a lot of fun, but I should have spent more of my time learning, writing, working, and seeking out business opportunities. I don’t regret my decision to spend a year traveling. But I should have approached that year with more focus, and with more commitment to personal growth. Instead, I treated it like a vacation.
But no twenty-something deserves a vacation. I would even say no thirty-something deserves a vacation. Weekend in Vegas? Sure. A month or two of backpacking to celebrate a major life milestone? OK. But no long-term travel for its own sake, no mini-retirements, and no “gap years” when you’re a young man – wait until you’ve earned it. Don’t become the filthy 38-year old hippie trying to bargain with the owner of a $3/night hostel.
Mistake #2: Letting Alcohol Control Me
Between the ages of seventeen and twenty-three, I drank and partied heavily several nights a week. My entire social life revolved around alcohol. I spent almost half my waking hours either drunk or hungover.
The crazy thing is that my drinking habits were only a bit above average in my peer group. I played rugby at a big college, and ran with a few hard-partying circles. As a result, my behaviour felt completely natural.
I’m not anti-alcohol. Drinking is fun, and it’s often a necessary part of building relationships with friends, girls, and clients. The health effects of somewhat-responsible drinking habits are not severe.
But when I reflect on the hours, days, and years of my life that I’ve lost, I realize that I should have drank much, much less. I should have resisted the college binge drinking culture that so many of us accept as ordinary, without even thinking about it.
Mistake #3: Having Sex With Mediocre Girls
I’ve slept a lot of women in my life. Definitely over a hundred, and maybe closer to two.
Well, sex is a lot of fun. So is The Chase, and of course, The Validation.
But among my conquests, I would guess that roughly 10% were really and truly memorable. 40% were nice to have. And fully half were not even worth the trouble. I’ve had some great experiences with some incredible women, but I’ve also had a lot of mediocre sex with a lot of mediocre girls.
How many nights did I spend time and money chasing fresh tail, when I had girls waiting for a call, who were of better quality than 90% of what was at the bar?
How many relationships with amazing girls did I ruin because my ego demanded variety?
How many casual lays did I keep in the rotation just so I could feel like a cool-guy player?
The Good-Looking Loser has a great post on Guys Who Get Laid versus Guys Who Get Validation. In my late twenties, I’m realizing that most of the pussy I chased in my youth, I chased for the validation.
Yes, I wanted to get laid. But more than that, I wanted to be the guy who got laid. I wanted the respect of the girls, friends, and complete strangers whom (I hoped) saw me as the “cool player guy,”
As a result, I over-valued variety, above and beyond what I really wanted. I got sucked into chasing Validation, instead of satisfaction, happiness, and meaning.
In addition to the Validation Trap, the life of the player is inherently risky. Pregnancies, STDs, false rape accusations, and other hazards are out there. The risks are worth it, for the quality girls. But most girls are not worth the time it takes to fuck them, let alone risking the rest of your life.
Just to be clear: The last thing I want to do is push guys away from the seduction community. All young men should be learning game, approaching girls, and working on the skills they need to sleep with attractive women.
What I am saying is this: Look inside and ask yourself if you’re chasing girls for sex, or validation. If sleeping with hundreds of girls isn’t what you truly want, don’t do it. If you value quality over quantity, go out hunting with a sniper rifle instead of a P90.
Mistake #4: Not Writing Enough
This bullet will surprise those who know me. I’ve written hundreds and thousands, maybe even millions of words, over the past decade. I’ve written blogs, books, columns, journals, and even some truly awful poetry.
But no matter how much time I’ve spent writing, I wish I’d spent more. Writing forces me to organize my thoughts. It builds mental rigour, and my habit of writing publicly in the Red Pill/Manosphere/Dark Enlightenment has introduced me to an incredibly valuable network. I’ve gotten so much help from so many people, and I’ve hopefully been able to give back some as well.
I highly recommend that all young men develop the habit of writing often. Writing a private journal is a great way to start. Once you’re comfortable with your ability to express yourself, start a blog of your own.
Mistake #5: Going To College
My college experience was better than most. I got a BComm at a mediocre school and a Master’s in Econ from a good one. I left college debt-free, after getting a free ride through undergrad. I got a great job in my field right out of school. I made a lot of lifelong friends in college, and I had an absolutely amazing time (see mistakes #2 and #3).
Still, if I could go back in time and talk to my eighteen year old self, I think I would tell him to skip the entire post-secondary education charade entirely. I suppose I got a lot out of my education, and it definitely opened up doors for me, but what about the opportunity cost? What else might I have done with those five years?
At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, and after having made a career change into a completely unrelated field, I think I would have been better off if I had skipped college entirely.
Young men, the world is full of opportunity. Not much of it can be found on the politically correct and bureaucratic diploma mills that litter the American continent. Unless you’re earning a marketable degree from a top school, skip college and go do something real with your life.
As you can see, I’ve really and truly fucked up a few major areas of my life throughout my early- and mid-twenties. I’ve made several major mistakes that have held me back, and cost me several years of my life.
But I don’t dwell on my mistakes, because I’ve managed to build a great foundation for life in my twenties despite them.
How I did that is the subject of a follow-up post: The Six Habits That Make You A Man.
Lastly, I found that writing this post has been enlightening and therapeutic, so I’m going to recommend that you try the same exercise:
Thumotic Readers: What mistakes have you made in your life? What were the consequences? What new habits have you adopted to correct your path? Please provide some background for context, including your approximate age.