Sunday, July 9, 2017

When I was Fifteen

The May/June issue of the Horn Book magazine was their annual humor issue. One of the contributors interpreted this theme as writing a letter to his younger self, like a 40 something guy telling his 13 year old self things that would amaze, confuse and horrify him. Because nostalgia is one of the most powerful emotions, and retrospect is often 20/20, it was the article that made me laugh out loud (something about how whenever he's alone now, he likes to find a good documentary to watch, whereas the 13 year old would probably try to find something about "naked ladies" to look at.  .  .).

It got me thinking what I might write to a younger version of myself. And since my birthday is tomorrow (gulp), now seemed a good as time as any. So, I'm picturing myself as I was around 14 or 15 years old, and trying to think of the things that would encourage, shock, or prepare me for the future.

1. A can of rainbow chip frosting is NOT a well balanced breakfast. Nowadays, your favorite thing to eat in the morning is a toasted bagel topped with avocado.

2. High school is tough for almost everyone, but try to figure out what makes a good friend. This way you can make sure to keep the right people around, and lose the ones who don't understand.

3. You know how you don't like anyone to interrupt you while you're watching Friends on Thursday nights? In about 20 years, you'll be able to watch any episode you want, whenever you want, pretty much wherever you want. And it's still funny!

4. Don't be afraid to try new things. It doesn't matter if you're friends aren't going, or you've heard of it before, or you don't think you'll be any good at it.

5. Soak in your highschool experience. It's four short years. And I don't mean just the usual cliche stuff, like first day of the school year, or prom, I mean really look around. Memorize the way the old building looks, look at the faces of the people teaching you, and appreciate the bus ride/uniform/lunch money because soon it'll be on you transport yourself, figure out to wear everyday, and feed yourself.

6. When you write in your journals, just write. Don't try to record any sage wisdom or sound profound. It's really embarrassing to read now.

7. Your family drives you crazy, but this is pretty much a universal truth. If you don't spend enough time with them now, you'll spend the rest of your life regretting it. Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles- just stop by and say hi, or write a letter or an email, anything is better than nothing.

8. Dancing is good! Just because something's not a career path doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. It's good for your body, but more importantly it's fun. Even if you're not as good as you wish you were, don't stop.

9. "Listening to what ignorant people say is like listening to a dog fart- you just hope it goes away." I read that in a book just now, and it's a good thing to remember. Oh yeah, remember that time you gave the dog all those leftover pork and beans? Don't ever do that again!

10. Despite how you're feeling right now, you're not "in love." You have loving feelings, and they are intense and they are valid, but they are only a few pieces of the puzzle. There's alot more that needs to get filled in before you can really see the picture. You are very fortunate though, because you will meet someone who makes all the time, and pain, worth it.

Okay, so there's my list. I tried not to make it too sentimental or erudite. Just as I wrote in #6 about not trying to be profound, I don't want to think I am recording some great truths here. It's just a tool for introspection.

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