What would you say to your 16-year-old self, and why?
It’s another ‘write something you’ve already written’ prompt. I’ve already had this conversation in Doing Research For An Autobiography, but I’ll try again. This time, I’ll be a little nicer to my former self.
I’d tell 16-me that she is awesome because she doesn’t hear that nearly enough nor does she really believe it yet. She has a tough guy front, but it’s just a façade. She and I both know this, but few other people do because she won’t let them get close enough.
I’d tell 16-me to stop taking everything so seriously. She’s too busy trying to find the answers to really let her hair down. She thinks, if she looks hard enough, she will know all, but she doesn’t even know the half of it. She’ll never find all of the answers she’s seeking in books. She has to get out there and live to find them.
I’d tell 16-me that she really needs to laugh more. She needs big, deep, belly laughs where she can’t catch her breath and she’s crying from laughing so hard. She has a quick, fiery wit hidden in there and she needs to let it out more often. Without humor, life isn’t worth living.
I’d tell 16-me there’s nothing to fear. Yes, some more really bad things will happen to her when she gets older, but bad things happen to everyone. It’s not a competition. She can survive all of it. She’s strong and smart and she’s tough on the inside, too.
I’d tell her where not to be in a particular venue on a particular night, so that she doesn’t end up clobbered on the head with a stage light. She can keep her smarts and her memories and all the things she’s figured out so far. If she avoids that stage light, she won’t have to drop out of university because she’s basically a vegetable for a little while. She won’t end up with the nickname Goldfish.
I’d tell her that things do get better. She might not ever be rich and famous (not that she’d really want that anyway), but she will figure some things out; maybe not all the things she wants to know, but enough. She will acquire real knowledge of the world and the way things work, not just what she can learn from books.
I’d tell her that she will find her own family of friends who love her just the way she is without changing a thing (except maybe her innate negativity). I’d tell her she will have deep belly laughs, she will learn, she will get out of that city, she will cry, and sometimes, she will feel like throwing in the towel, but she won’t. She won’t let it defeat her. I’d tell her that she ends up with more life experience than she ever thought possible from where she sits in her little room. She will only be stuck in that little room for another two years anyway. Then the adventure really begins and it never stops.