I belong to a fantastic online community that I’m only not outing here to protect the identities of my fellow community members. At any rate – yesterday the admin of this awesome site posted about the advice she would give to her 10-years-younger self and it got me thinking (always good!) about the advice I would give to 17-year-old me.
Here’s the tricky thing about giving your past self advice, even though it won’t make a difference until time travel becomes a real thing: it’s a guarantee that some of the things we would have our younger selves avoid are the very things that ultimately led to better things in our lives now. I’m reluctant to imagine a life that went differently, because the path(s) I could have chosen would certainly have led me away from the family I have today.
If I stick to the timeline of exactly 10 years ago, it’s an interesting middle ground between advice that’s a tad too late to make a difference and advice that won’t make sense because it’s still too early. Some things would probably still not make sense, but maybe some forewarning could have made things a little easier to bear. So, to 17-year-old me on May 16, 2004:
- Don’t send the deposit to Point Park. You don’t really want to go there to study Political Science and you won’t go anyway so it’s a waste of money.
- Start cleaning/sorting/organizing your stuff and purging NOW. Last year’s history is about to repeat itself and you need to be ready.
- When everything falls apart, talk to Mom about it. Don’t bottle the feelings up for two years – nobody blames you for anything.
- Graduation is 2 weeks away – don’t start slacking now. Pay your overdue student fees, buckle down for finals, and enjoy every last second you have with your friends.
- Take care of yourself and go to the doctor. Maybe you can avoid that weeklong stay in the hospital.
- I know you think you miss him, but you absolutely made the right decision. Stay strong.
- When your old job opens up again, don’t take it. Find a better way to make money for college.
- DON’T SPEND ALL YOUR DAMN MONEY ON NONSENSE. And don’t you dare sign up for a credit card before you’re ready to handle the responsibility.
That’s pretty much all the advice I could give myself that wouldn’t dramatically change the future. The best thing about our lives is that we have the blessing of looking forward and making a better future for ourselves even if the past is rocky or filled with regret. With that in mind, I would never advise myself to avoid the critical moments that shaped who I am and led me to where I am today. The only other thing I would tell not-quite-10-years-younger me now is to be kinder to the people I love…and that’s advice I give myself even today.
No more looking back – now I’m looking ahead.