Friday, February 22, 2013

Things I Wish I Could Have Told My Fifteen Year Old Self

I've been scanning all my letters, class notes, photos, yearbooks, and mementos lately. A lot of it is kind of unpleasant to go through, and I'll be glad when I only have a computer file of it, not a physical page I stumble upon every now and again. (Why keep these things, or bother to digitize them? I feel a compulsive need to scan everything before I recycle it. It's part of my process, do what I can't do and let it go)

But there are good things too, sweet things that remind me of good friends and fond memories. Looking back, there are some things I wish I'd worked harder at, but there are a lot more things I wish I'd been able to say, "Fuck it, I'm going to have fun". If I could give myself the gift of hindsight, beforehand, I'd go back to my fifteen year old self. I was old enough then to get the advice I list here, had been in high school long enough to have established good work habits, but was young enough to avoid a lot of the mistakes I've made. I'm beginning to understand that everyone has regrets, but the key is to not hate yourself for having them. Some things still sting to think about, some make me want to bury my head in the sand, and others I can laugh at. Still, if I could go back, this is the advice I'd give myself.

  • Don't save so much stuff. It will only weigh you down.
  • Serving people who don't respect you isn't service, it's just abuse.
  • Depression is going to hit you, and it's going to hit you hard.
  • See a sympathetic dermatologist about your acne. It's worth the cost, because a good dermatologist will figure out what's going on in one or two visits, and you will feel so much better about yourself when you have that under control. On the other hand, having acne for years and years will teach you a lot of lessons about self-perception and confidence.
  • Look up minimalism, environmentalism, and good writing. These things will be very important to you in a few years, and you're going to wish you had known about them sooner.
  • Your family will be much less frustrating when you don't live with them. You will even miss them, and look forward to visiting, until you stay somewhere together for a week. Then you'll want your independence back.
  • Greek yogurt is more delicious than you think.
  • Don't stay in Utah, it's a trap, at least for you.
  • Approach college like you did  high school, at least in terms of how hard you work, and how scared you are of getting a low GPA.
  • When you start finding out about media (movies, TV, magazines, music, the internet, etc. and all of it), it's going to blow your mind.
  • Your awkwardness will fade, and your confidence will grow. One day you won't worry about being weird in public, and it will be an incredible relief.
  • Until you have a full-time career, be incredibly frugal. You can stretch a little money a long way, but only if you know it has to last.
  • That milk-chugging contest? Don't do it.

Honestly, I've enjoyed my life as it is, but I would only relive my past to avoid making the mistakes I did. Of course, then I would have made different mistakes, and I would have a whole different set of advice to give myself.  So what about you, if you could, what would you tell your fifteen-year-old self?