I think it’s appropriate that on Throwback Thursday I’m writing about 11 things I would tell my 16 year old self. It’s actually something I’ve thought a lot about in the past, and especially lately as I’ve been writing my book The Before Now and After Then, which is about a 17 year old, who resembles me in many ways. I’m not sure we change much as we age. My mom once told me, “You never really feel different after age 18. Your hands begin to look older, you become more concerned with worldly issues and you have more life experiences, but the core of who you are never really changes.” I believe this to be true.
Before writing this post, I got in my car and drove around, listening to some of my favorite music from high school which is still some of my favorite music today: The Smiths, The Cure and New Order. The songs of our youth define us to some degree and serve as a fundamental foundation for who we will become as we age. This ritual is something I’ve done many times in the last few months while writing my book as I attempt to channel my younger self. I feel blessed in having gotten clean and sober at such a young age because I find that I don’t have as many regrets as some of my cohorts and I have been able to live a pretty amazing life. Still, I’ve wondered what it would be like to actually sit across from myself, today, and tell myself at 16 exactly what things I would need to know to have a better life in the future. I’ve tried to be brutally honest and not write some vague advice.
1. Try and be as healthy as possible. Eat healthy and work out on a regular basis. Maintain a strong body and get regular checkups from your doctor and dentist. You will be happy once you pass thirty and your metabolism changes, but by then it will be such a part of your daily life that your body probably won’t suffer and you’ll continue to have the body you desire. That being said, eat unhealthy once a week, enjoying whatever makes you happy. And always get popcorn and candy at the movie theater.
2. You will have many loves in your life. All of them will be different and each will be important and affect you in a profound way. Once each relationship ends, you will feel as if you can’t go on, but you will survive. Also, be patient in relationships as you get older. Issues such as poor communication, jealousy, cheating, money and small arguments will hurt, but they don’t define the relationship. Allow yourself to see the greater picture of love. You will want to grow old with someone.
3. Spend time with your family even when they drive you crazy. On a random Tuesday, when you least expect it, your mother will go into a coma and never speak again. Those things you always wanted to say will be left unsaid and those things you always wanted to do will never happen. Say and do them now. Take calls from your family and make sure to do things with them even when it’s inconvenient. Do not engage in family drama, chaos or fighting, it is the finer moments you will take with you in the end anyway.
4. Be true to yourself always and never allow yourself to be someone you’re not for someone else. Come out now. Your parents and family will support you and your friends already know. No one really cares anyway. Allow yourself to feel what it is like to date, be in love and have crushes in high school. Do not wait. You deserve the same as everyone else.
5. Let go of your fears, especially of other people. People can only hurt you to the extent that you allow them. Take risks every day and become someone who is confident in all surroundings. Doors open for confident people who are willing to try new things, go new places and meet new people. This is really an important piece to finding the meaning of life.
6. Do not be consumed with money, it won’t matter that much to you in the long run anyway. Spend your money on books, coffee, music and travel. No watch or bag will equal the delight you will gain by looking back on the amazing nights you drove around singing with your best friend, while drinking fountain Cokes, all at the price of 89 cents. That being said, the winning Powerball numbers for the biggest jackpot in history are 22, 10, 13, 14, 52 and the Powerball number 11 on May 18th, 2013. It may come in handy as you get older and realize, even as a bohemian, money does help.
7. The people who bully you and make your life a living hell today will grow up and feel bad for what they did. Many will apologize and some will even become close friends. Don’t hold onto the resentments. Realize that they are people too with their own pain. And know that if it hadn’t been for them, you wouldn’t have found peace in such an amazing group of friends you have now. You will one day become a very strong and resilient man and this will come only as a result of your tough times in high school.
8. Keep a journal and keep a timeline of happy events in your life. You’ll remember the sad ones anyway, and looking back at the good times will make you appreciate life more. Write down inside jokes because over time, you will forget them.
9. Don’t take yourself too seriously and allow yourself to be weird. Every day, look in the mirror and laugh at yourself. Dance crazily in your kitchen. Sing at the top of your lungs in your car. Wear whatever clothes make you happy. Refuse to be embarrassed. Refuse to conform. You only have one life anyway.
10. Anything is possible. You actually can be whatever you want to be so don’t wait until your 40 to figure that out. The people who live the most amazing lives realize this much younger and live their lives to the fullest. Whatever your passion, pursue it fully. The only difference between you and Tom Cruise is that he showed up for the audition. You won’t know what you’re capable of until you try. Show for the audition. Life is yours for the taking.
11. Smoke less, have more sex, drink less caffeine, smile at everyone, read important books but also trashy ones too, watch all of the Oscar winning movies and remember your favorite lines, make out more often, try something different every day, don’t get consumed with being sad because it’s just a waste of time, hug friends and family, keep in touch with old friends but don’t get stuck in yesterday, try to see the good in people, take lots of pictures, buy art that makes you happy, keep mixed CD’s of your favorite music in your car, buy a house at a young age and keep a garden, let go of control and learn to relax. Focus on the positive and don’t be too hard on yourself for your mistakes. Learn to admit when you’re wrong and always say you’re sorry first. It will save you a lot of time and heartache.
But most importantly, breathe. Whether you like it or not, you will grow up and you might as well enjoy the ride!
Add my book to your Goodreads to-read shelf and go there to find out more and visit my author page! Thanks!