It’s hard to look back from my position now, to suggest to myself as a child and a young man, how to deal with growing up.
My life improved vastly, from very poor beginnings, growing up in wartime Britain, suffering food rationing until I’d passed the age of 16 – coincidentally the same year that we had electricity installed on our house in South London for the first time.
I was an insecure, introvert, and a lonely child – small and afraid of the world that I grew up in.
I look back to the day when my grandmother – my surrogate mother – told me – as I now tell you – to try to live my life as is written in that wonderful poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling.
Talking to my younger self, young Bill – be daring young man:
If you see an opportunity, go for it, even when the people around you advise you not to – If you have a gut feeling, take the risk of what your gut is telling you – If people knock you down, get up and try again – If you hope for something that seems unobtainable, go for it with all of your might – If you don’t buy the ticket you don’t win the lottery.
You must step out of that gutter to make something of yourself.
And if you’re not successful, try, try, again – and if you want to learn something, practice until you finally succeed – and even when you feel the whole world is against you, stand up and do battle and win the fight and move on.
You may be a little one, but most of the great men throughout history were little ones – think about the likes of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Sir Francis Drake, Leonardo Da Vinci, Napoleon, Chopin, Charlie Chaplin, and Picasso – and in modern times Peter Sellers, Dustin Hoffman, Ray Charles, and footballer Pele, to name a few – the list goes on.
Hard work and perseverance will prepare you for the gift of luck, when it comes your way, so try to live by those last four lines of Kipling’s poem, that reads:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run
Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it
And – what is more – you’ll be a man my son
Dear Young Me is whynow’s new editorial series where twice a month you will gain a uniquely personal insight into the retrospective thoughts and feelings of some of the UK’s most well known and influential figures including Pete Townshend, Michael Caine, and Stephen Fry.