A Letter to a Young Dustin Valencia

Thanks to some inspiration from new friends Ben and Kevin, I decided to participate in writing a letter to my younger self. In this case, this letter goes out to to my senior year, high school self. Enjoy!

The infamous beans picture.

Dear Dustin,

You are a senior in high school right now, which means two things: you thought Gladiator was the best movie of all time (not a bad thing) and you thought at one point Tom Green was funny (bad thing). To help you decipher what you’re about to experience next in life, here are a few tips that I thought you may find beneficial:

  • For the love of pete, please stop wearing white undershirts underneath every article of clothing. No one thinks its cool.
  • Embrace your inner ska-head. It was something that set you apart.
  • Try not to fall asleep so much in your high school classes. You’ll soon learn about the great beauty of mid-day naps in college.
  • Be more decisive. Form opinions. People pleasing is tiring.
  • Be careful trying to run down your parent’s basement stairs as fast as you can. That is, unless you want to fall on your face and have a right foot the size of a watermelon for a month.
  • Cherish your time at Cornerstone music festival that summer. You’ll make lasting memories and hear lots of good music. Plus, you’ll take a wicked sweet “beans picture”.
  • People (read: family) will make fun of you for spending most weekends at friends houses doing “LAN Parties“. Embrace these times. You’ll make lasting friends and learn a ton about computers (which will make sense later in life).
  • Don’t limit yourself to what others may expect of you. Step out of that box. You are unique and God wants to use you in ways you wouldn’t think possible.
  • Don’t stop playing ultimate frisbee. You’ll look like a tool when your dorm mates in college ask you to play a game and you stink at “tossin’ the B”.
  • Tell your mom and dad thank you (often) for your graduation gift. You’ll wear that guitar out over the next year. It’ll will usher you into experiencing worship in a new and fresh way.

If you had to write out a note to your younger self, what would you include?

80 Comments

  • Moe

    February 11, 2011

    LOL. Nice picture there buddy.

    I am going to join the crowd and do this in a blog post (in the near future). I will surely warn myself from many of the bad decisions I made.

    Ultimate frisbee? Really?

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Do it, Moe! We are all waiting…

      And yes, Ultimate Frisbee. :) I played a ton in high school… then went through a period where I didn’t toss it at all. First week in college, guys in the dorm were like “hey want to play?” I said sure and made a fool of myself. To top it off, I was on the “skins” team and had to display my pasty/lanky self.

      Reply
      • Moe

        February 11, 2011

        LOL. Man, if I showed up to school with a frisbee, they would have beat me up and laughed at me.

        Did you at least flex your triceps when a pretty girl passed by?

        Reply
        • Dustin

          February 11, 2011

          Are you serious? I was so awkward around girls. If I would have flexed my “triceps” (what triceps?) I probably would have ended up in the emergency room due to a muscle tear (due to the sudden use of a muscle I never used).

          Reply
  • Kevin

    February 11, 2011

    Your photo is amazing.

    I would also tell myself that playing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG with your secret friends, is the same as playing Dungeons and Dragons with anyone.

    Reply
  • Jim F

    February 11, 2011

    Love the post!

    I would write to myself – for the love of all that is good and holy please cut off the mullet – it is embarrassing!

    Also take school a little more serious – you will need that information.

    Good Job Dustin on this!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Oh man oh man… we need to see a picture of that.

      Reply
    • Michael

      February 11, 2011

      I so want to see you rocking the mullet.

      Reply
  • Brandon

    February 11, 2011

    Haha! This was good! I have to say that I would include the white undershirt thing. I am guilty of that! haha… Probably because I am still in high school!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      It’s all good, Brandon. I’m sure you can pull it off! :) (looking back at my pictures, I think I looked like a doof)

      Reply
      • Melissa Brotherton

        February 11, 2011

        When we were dating in high school, my husband wore a “beater,” then a white undershirt, then his t-shirt. Haha! I always made fun of him for wearing three shirts. :) It’s kind of amazing he married me after all the ridicule. :)

        Reply
      • Brandon

        February 11, 2011

        I guess I can pull it off because I am so cool! haha. Just kidding!

        Reply
  • Adam

    February 11, 2011

    Good stuff! I did one a while back. Interesting what we come up with. If we only know…
    http://bit.ly/aepqej

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Yours was great, Adam. Some really honest advice.

      Reply
  • Donald Borsch Jr

    February 11, 2011

    LOL! D, this is classic! I appreciate your easy-going sense of humor.

    C-Stone Fest has good memories with me, as well. Btw, love the Project 86 shirt.

    Thanks for some laughter this Friday morning!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      You’re very welcome! And yes, I still have that P86 shirt. It’s tight on me now, but I still love it. (Mostly for bringing my back to the very instant of that beans picture)

      Reply
  • seekingpastor

    February 11, 2011

    What?!?! Wearing a white undershit under everything isn’t cool?!?! I beg to differ.

    My letter would include something about not watching Baywatch so much.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      LOL, maybe it was just me Matt… like I mentioned to Brandon, I’m positive you can still pull it off. :)

      Reply
      • Brandon

        February 11, 2011

        The best thing is to wear knickers! Everyone is digging those now days!

        Reply
        • Keri

          February 11, 2011

          Those aren’t knickers…they’re manpris (man capris!) and women don’t dig them.

          Reply
  • HarryClayman

    February 11, 2011

    I often think about this. I’ve been down some very dark roads – to the point where a Navy Chaplain once told me “Jesus doesn’t want people like you.” And I think to myself:
    “What if I hadn’t taken that first drink and enjoyed it?”
    “What if I hadn’t fallen in love with heavy metal?”
    “What if I hadn’t become promiscuous?”
    “What if I hadn’t inhaled?”
    “What if…?”

    Truth is, all of those indiscretions have made me who I am today. It has helped me to reach out to those who:
    – Are addicted to alcohol and drugs
    – Are hardcore metal fans and want a positive alternative
    – Are facing issues brought on by premarital relations

    Without those experiences in my life, I would not be able to walk with people in need. But, more importantly, I would not be able to demonstrate God’s grace in my life – a grace that is available to all who ask.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Harry, thanks for sharing that. That is really great that you have so powerfully experienced God’s grace in your life. Like you said, through those painful, dark experiences you are now able to speak truth and life into other people’s lives.

      Reply
  • Tom Raines

    February 11, 2011

    Thanks for sharing. Good exercise as we look back to speak with our our children and those we can guide.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      You’re welcome, Tom!

      Reply
  • John

    February 11, 2011

    I would tell my high school self – shave off that ridiculous mustache. It’s not cool and you look like a creep. And also the white T shirt thing. THat was totally me. Today, I wear different colors – sometimes green, sometimes brown, sometimes black. White T’s are for church!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      John, ha! “white t’s are for the church” (gotta save your sunday best!). I’m with ya on the mustache. If I grew one out it would look like Pedro from Napolean Dynamite… and I would forever be called a creeper.

      Reply
  • Michael

    February 11, 2011

    lol. I still laugh at Tom Green. “Daddy would you like some sausage?”

    Do not urinate in the fountain downtown. People will get mad.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      LOL, and then with the piano. Okay, maybe you’re right. I still laugh too.

      Reply
    • Ben

      February 11, 2011

      Michael’s just full of surprises. First its the “oops I crapped my pants,” and now it’s the downtown fountain urination.

      Awesome. LOL

      Reply
      • Michael

        February 11, 2011

        I wasn’t a very good kid growing up.

        Reply
    • mo

      February 11, 2011

      yeah tom green has a certain timeless quality for me too. the word “bum” has never been the same.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        February 11, 2011

        Ha, nearly forgot about the Bum Bum song… lol.

        Reply
  • Jon Malstrom

    February 11, 2011

    I should prolly do this. Not sure I have the energy. Plus, I think I was really cool at 18. Maybe I don’t need any advice?

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Didn’t we all think we were cool? (at least a little bit)

      Jon, you should do it! And send me the link when you do… would love to read it.

      Reply
      • Donald Borsch Jr

        February 12, 2011

        D,

        In high school I thought I was so cool that I should have been deemed “legally dead”.

        Get it? “Cool”? Body temp? “Legally dead”? Body temp, and..forget it.

        It was so much funnier in my head…

        Reply
  • Ben

    February 11, 2011

    This is awesome man, thanks for the shout-out and I’m glad you did one. I love these, they’re so freakin hilarious.

    Falling asleep in class was huge for me, what gives? I so wish I got into coffee back then…

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Yeah, I’m with you – not sure why it took me so long to drink coffee in the mornings. Seems like nowadays 7 yo kids are stopping by Starbucks for a Venti dark roast on the way to their 1st grade classes…

      Reply
      • Brandon

        February 11, 2011

        True… now they might get the 31 once size (Trenta!)…bigger than their stomachs can hold! haha…I guess it is the more caffeine the better?! :)

        Reply
  • Melissa Brotherton

    February 11, 2011

    Wouldn’t doing this imply that I’m old now? Aren’t I still “college age?” haha!

    This was hilarious and I love the picture. Maybe I’ll do one to a newlywed self for my anniversary in a couple weeks.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Yes!! Do it and send me the link. Posts like these always seem to make me laugh.

      Funny story- right now, we live about an hour away from where both my wife and I went to college. We still have a couple friends who live in the town, so we’ll go back and visit them from time to time. The thing is, I always feel old because we’ll walk around campus and I say to myself, “wow… you are sooo young. and I’m sooo old!” :)

      Reply
      • Melissa Brotherton

        February 11, 2011

        Funny story? My husband is the Director of Campus Dining at the college we attended. :) Haha! It get that strangeness…never once when I was a student there did I anticipate that I would one day be chasing my four small children around the campus. Haha!

        Reply
        • Keri

          February 11, 2011

          A letter to newleywed Melissa is an awesome idea!!! I would love to read that one.

          Reply
  • mo

    February 11, 2011

    ahh…LAN parties. I’d add something in there about a wallet chain. Something like, “don’t.”

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      LOL, love the wise (short) advice right there.

      Reply
  • KC

    February 11, 2011

    This is a great idea.
    Gonna have to try it out next week.

    Reply
  • kevin

    February 11, 2011

    White undershirt under everything = guilty. I blame it on being skinny and not wanting to look like an Ethiopian (a nickname I would get in college) everywhere I went.

    Reply
    • Brandon

      February 11, 2011

      Partly why I do it, but mostly because I am just so cool! haha…

      Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Yikes. Now that I think about it, I probably did it partly for the same reason. I was tall, skinny, with no meat at all on me. Kinda sickly at times.

      By the way, Brandon. You may want to check out http://en.gravatar.com/ – that link will show you how to get your own Gravatar (picture that shows up when you comment on blogs).

      Reply
  • Kyle

    February 11, 2011

    I don’t care what all your other family members say – LAN parties are where it was at. FRIENDLY UNICORNS!

    Agreed on the ultimate Frisbee. played 3-4 times a week in college.

    good letter bro!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      …and a family member chimes in on my LAN party bidness. LOL. Annnnnnnd, you had to bring up the Friendly Unicorns. Now, that was something I forgot about. HA!

      Reply
  • Keri

    February 11, 2011

    This is a super post idea, Dustin!

    I just got the idea that perhaps for my upcoming sex series I could have a blog carnival where people write letters to their high school selves about sex. I don’t know if everyone would actually do it. Not sure I would do it for the blogosphere, but maybe it could work without being toooooo incriminating. You know, some people’s parents do read this stuff! LOL

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      …now that would be interesting. That is an interesting topic, especially in the Christian blogosphere. Thanks for commenting, Keri!

      Reply
  • Alex Humphrey

    February 11, 2011

    That was really awesome, Dustin!

    What about your wife and kids? Didn’t want to tell your younger self about them yet?

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Alex, you know… when I was typing this up last night that came up (when I was showing my wife). I guess the whole area of relationships is a whole ‘nother bridge we can cross at another point. :)

      Reply
  • Jason Vana

    February 11, 2011

    I really like this idea and I’m gonna have to get on the bandwagon and do this sometime soon.

    As far as what I would add – probably tell my younger self two main things:
    1. Enjoy the present and don’t always keep looking toward the future
    2. Be flexible and know that things don’t always turn out the way I think.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Yes, do it Jason. Would love to read it.

      I love those two pieces of advice.. but especially the first. With kids I want to have that mindset all the time as well. They grow so quickly and it’s so easy to say “things will get better when they ______” fill in the blank with: walk, eat by themselves, are out of the diapers, etc.

      Reply
  • Larry Hehn

    February 11, 2011

    Ok…definitely going to make a post out of this topic. Thanks for the inspiration, Dustin!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 11, 2011

      Yes!! Can’t wait to read it.

      Reply
  • Nathan

    February 12, 2011

    Haha, LAN parties. I remember those – the ones my friends did were usually Age of Empires related.

    And what’s the backstory on that bean picture? I’m curious…

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 12, 2011

      Yeah LANs bring back loads of memories. We were mostly 1st person shooters and strategy games.

      Re: the beans picture…nothing too special. Except for some reason it was “so epic” (not my words) according to some people. I suppose it was just a funny picture. :)

      Reply
  • kristinherdy

    February 12, 2011

    This was funny, Dustin. I love all the advice.

    I wish someone would have told younger me that bigger hair did not necessarily make one closer to God. Finding a photo of me without gigantic country-singer hair is nigh on impossible.

    Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr

      February 12, 2011

      Kristin. Come on now. You mentioned it. Let us see your country-hair from the high school years. Come on.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        February 12, 2011

        Yes yes yes. Now we need to see a picture!

        Reply
  • Bryan Thompson

    February 12, 2011

    Dustin, love this:

    “Be careful trying to run down your parent’s basement stairs as fast as you can. That is, unless you want to fall on your face and have a right foot the size of a watermelon for a month.”

    Dude, I think you stole memories from my childhood. Ha ha. I did this kind of stuff often and I would almost kill myself. I’d write this to myself. In fact, I might repeat this idea for my own blog if you don’t mind. If it helps, I promise not to steal memories from your childhood.. :)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 12, 2011

      Let’s just say I was a tad clumsy (and reckless) at times…. Which is no different than how I am now sometimes. :)

      You definitely should write yourself a letter. I’ll be waiting!!

      Reply
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  • jenn

    February 13, 2011

    This is a fun idea for a post. I may have to do the same thing at some point. Oh, and if it makes you feel any better, I used to think Tom Green was cool too. (Now I have NO idea why.) :)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 13, 2011

      Yes, do it! And, I’m with ya on Tom Green. I mean, he’s funny… but I’m always like “wha?? really???” :)

      Reply
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  • Tony Alicea

    February 14, 2011

    That is one epic picture my friend. Love your list!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 14, 2011

      Ha, thanks friend. Now we just need to see a Young Tony!

      Reply
  • Kyle Reed

    February 15, 2011

    Love this idea, and yes embrace more ska and more halo.
    And Tom Green was never funny

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 15, 2011

      …and now Kyle is on the clock. Waiting on yours!

      Reply
  • Michelle

    February 15, 2011

    I’m not sure how I missed this! ha ha “Lan Parties” Oh boy! And my husband still wears white t-shirts under his shirts. Annoying, but I still love him anyway. He’s just not cool like you Dustin. He’s got his own idea of cool going on.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 16, 2011

      Michelle, truthfully all us guys have our own idea of cool going on. :)

      Reply
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