I read the Stephen King excerpt from this book, and it’s pretty apt. His entry was basically, “Don’t do drugs, or you will miss out ten years of your life, basically your thirties.”
The book, if you don’t already know, is a grouping of celebrities writing letters to themselves at age 16. What would you want to have known at that age? What would you change?
Me, in the end, I wouldn’t want to change much. The mistakes I’ve made have put me where I am today, and I could be doing a whole lot worse. Sure, my friends, on average, are more successful than I am, and have been more places around the globe. But really, I’m still alive, in relatively good health (although about 60 pounds heavier than I should be), I have two cool (although emotionally damaged) munchkin cats that I wouldn’t trade in for the world and a box of Gobstoppers.
Most of all, I have a wonderful wife who I actually get along with rather well, and love more than I thought I’d love anyone else. What’s weirder still, is that she loves me back.
If I had to write a letter to my 16 year old self, I guess it would go like this:
1) Stop putting yourself down. You’re awesome, and you’ll find your place in the world. Just relax and keep pushing forward.
2) I know you aren’t dating. That won’t change for a couple years. One thing to remember: The internet is your friend. Chat with local girls, and invite them for coffee. Don’t be afraid to get close to people you meet there either. Sure, most are wacko, but some are actually neat people that, while you might not ever want to date them or sleep with them, they’re fun to hang with, online or otherwise.
3) Driving two hundred miles to date someone is just a bad idea. Don’t do it.
4) Joining the military is not an awful idea, but you might want to try anti-depressants and/or some therapy first. What the military will do is give you a solid foundation that allows you to tell the rest of the world, “GO F**K YOURSELF, I’M AWESOME!” when necessary. Sometimes the world needs to hear this. In hindsight, I don’t know if you could ever get this solid foundation any other way. In gaining this, you will lose some of your more flighty artistic talents, but there was never any way to transmit that stuff into anything you could really share with anyone anyhow, so maybe it’s all for the best.
5) Getting out of the military is not an awful idea. In fact, with the merits of military experience (and the GI Bill), getting out of the military is a fantastic idea.
6) Stay away from the crazy horse girl. You’ll know who I’m talking about.
7) Drive the speed limit, or no more than 7 mph over. You’ll thank me later.
8) The world doesn’t care what you think. Don’t care so much about what the world thinks.
9) Stay away from BMW’s. Every one you own will have expensive problems to fix. Reliability is sexier than a nice car that breaks down a lot. Think a Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, or a Geo Prism (which is the same car as the Corolla, by the way). Great cars, even used. And make sure you get a warranty! Car warranties are AWESOME! And totally worth the money!!!
That’s probably enough things to share with my 16-year old self. I’d post some power-ball numbers, but I don’t think I was meant to win the lottery, and I’m afraid of what I’d do if I won it at any point earlier in my life. So, I guess that’s enough to tell my younger self. I hope I appreciate the advice.