There is always those times in life where we reflect and say “if I knew then what I know now I would have done things so differently.” There are even times when we wish we could go back and have a do-over. I’ve been thinking about this a lot more lately and wondering what I could tell my 16-year-old self that could have changed every path I’ve taken up until now, at 25. I picked 16 because it was the year I really started to mess shit up. So, if time travel were at all possible or I could just tell myself a few things that might help me later on as an adult, I decided to write my past self this letter.
So you’re 16 now. Finally ready to drive a car and most definitely ready to almost be done with high school. Now I’m writing this from the future so, I highly doubt you care about anything this letter says and are more blown away that time travel (possibly) exists. I hope the Doctor brings you this letter in the TARDIS. You won’t understand that until 2011. There is a couple of things I’d like to tell you that could help you out and save you from future hurt and disappointment. First, listen to your parents more. They know more than you do. They have been through the same things you are and can give you the best advice. Appreciate the strides your dad is going to make in being a better dad. Second, pay attention to your GPA and try harder. That number seems so silly now but matters more than you can imagine. It means the difference between attending an actual college or just an upper level high school that you pay for. Third, try to make friends. You’re driven and goal oriented and that’s great. There’s only one problem, you let the determination to just survive and finish high school get in the way of building the interpersonal human relationships that are critical in life. You build a lot of walls to keep people out. It’s just easier that way isn’t it? It’s easier to find a reason to keep people out than it is to deal with the hurt when they realize what a terrible person you are at times. You jump into things head on with passion and always ends up getting screwed. You end up caring about people who just aren’t right for you and step on you to get themselves further. Don’t worry though, later on after high school, you meet some really great people. People who at times don’t really seem to care, but they do. Fourth, when things seem like the end of the world, pick up your boots and realize there is a lesson in there somewhere. There’s a reason that things happen. Maybe that person you thought really cared about you just really doesn’t. That must have item you think you really need just so people think you’re cool, you don’t really deserve. Fifth, you’ll realize what is really important to you. People come and go but there is a group of people who are don’t really have a choice and have to stand by you: your family. There are things that happen beyond your control that really drive this idea home. You’re strong and you handle it with great responsibility and grace. Lastly, people are going to disappoint you. You give 100% to people and expect 100% back. Not everyone can give you that. Don’t worry though, there is a select group of people who are there, when you least expect it, to bring a smile to your face. Just when you thought they didn’t really care at all. That’s when you’ll know who your true friends are no matter the distance or what is happening between you. You’re going to have a first love and it’s going to feel like the greatest thing that has ever happened. Beware that all good things must come to and end and they will crush you like a bug as soon as the next bright new shiny toy comes along. It sucks but you’ll survive. It’s just what you do. Now I have a couple of things I must say that are not as important as the ones I listed above.
- “pop punk” isn’t the greatest music in the world. See that Neutral Milk Hotel album over there? Listen to that more. You’ll thank me later.
- Dairy isn’t your friend. You’ll have to give up ice cream in a couple of years. Yes, no more chocolate chip cookie dough Ben and Jerry’s for dessert. Almond milk will become the greatest thing to happen to you.
- You’re going to love alcohol…a lot. Everything your parents say about it being bad is right, but you’ll go into it full steam ahead.
- You don’t want to be on The Real World, so stop telling people you do. You’d be the least interesting cast member they have ever had. Seriously, no one wants to see how much time you spend going to Target in your 20’s.
- Warped Tour isn’t that great. You’ll finally get to go to Coachella like you’ve always wanted. It will be one of the greatest experiences of your life.
- Fueled by Ramen is going to bring you some really great friends. Life long friends despite the distance between you guys.
- Facebook is going to overtake your beloved MySpace as a social networking hub. It’s going to allow anyone to join and share the most intimate, stupid details of their lives. Even if you haven’t spoken to them in months or years, you’re going to know all about them and their opinions on everything under the sun. Oh, and Twitter is awesome.
- The threats of a zombie apocalypse are real. Watch the Walking Dead. It will help.
Now that all of that has been said, there really isn’t all that much more. Beware of people who change their spots at a moments notice. You’ll waste a ton of time trying to heal your heart from the pain they have caused. It’s a waste of time and effort. You’ll go through a ton of phases, but they are just phases. Most importantly remember to make memories. They will be all you have when you’re old and living in a home. Oh and before I forget, a wise person once told me, take pictures. You’ll need them when you get Alzheimer’s disease.
Let things go, occasionally look before you leap but not always, take a step back before you say things you don’t mean, dream big and most importantly, have fun. Silly and ridiculous fun. Who cares what people will think.
PS- Stop eating so many cookies. Your metabolism will be slowing down and it’s not fair to future you to suffer the consequences.