Dear Younger Me,
You’re about to embark on a journey filled with its fair share of ups and downs. These obstacles, challenges, and heartbreaks are going to mold you into the man you are today. But let me give you some solid advice: stay true to yourself. In the midst of it all you’ll be tempted to change everything about you to feel comfortable under the pressure. Don’t. You’ve experienced hardship before so don’t change a thing when you come face to face with it again, that’s not you.
Academically, you need to be as competitive in the classroom as you are on the court. Sure, you’ll be tired from morning and afternoon practices, working a job on campus, and studying late at night but that’s no excuse. Take advantage of every moment you have to learn in and out of the classroom. Be teachable. Don’t sit in the back of the classroom and coast. Take notes, study, and then study some more until the information haunts you. Remember, you’re a student-athlete. That means you’re a student first, then an athlete.
Basketball is just a tool it’s not your identity, profession, or satisfaction. God has blessed you with the opportunity to play the game you love, so win or lose, praise Him. Believe it or not, there’s a difference between confidence and arrogance and you have no right to be arrogant. Use the platform God has given you to glorify Him and not to build a name for yourself. Love your coaches, teammates, and fans because when it’s all over, you’ll miss them all deeply and regret the moments you’ve wasted.
You’re about to go to one of the best Christian colleges in America. Take advantage of the time you have to learn from your professors. Learn from their teaching but more so from their examples. Find time alone with God; it will be the sweetest times of your college career. Prepare yourself and grow spiritually as much as you can because God has called you to help the needy, lead the blind, and engage the lost. You can’t do those things if you are those things.
Take care and God bless,
Your future self
Ray Holden was a four-year starter (2012-2016) and captain for the Bob Jones University Bruins. Follow Ray on Twitter @Bruin_Nation3.