Apr 21, 2017

Dear Younger Me

I wrote this Saturday night, March 18, while in Florida for my 25th high school reunion.  I wanted to add a "younger me" picture or two and didn't have them with me.  So I shelved the entry until now:

Younger Me, Spring, 1991, Junior Year, Age 17

So there's this song on Christian radio.  It's not one of my favorites, but the idea behind the song intrigues me.  The singer imagines what he might say if he could speak to the younger version of himself.  It's the idea if "I knew then what I know now."  might I have made different choices, lived  a different life?  Would I have been happier?

I'm here in Florida for my 25th high school union, and that's given me occasion to reflect back on my younger self, and think about what I might say to me.

I feel incredibly grateful that when I look back I have very few regrets. There's no warnings I feel I would need to give, no cautions about bad decisions that will then lead to life-long regret.  If I had to do it differently, remarkably, I don't think I'd change a thing.

If anything, the only thing I would want to say to the younger me is this:


Calm down.

Everything will turn out better than you can possibly imagine."

It's absurd I know, but the only thing I would change is that I would have felt differently. I was often mopey, angsty, neurotic.  I fell hard for various girls and  mooned over them for years.  A friend of mine recently said she wished she hadn't dated so much in high school, and in a way I can relate. I might not have dated anyone in high school, but I might as well have for all the emotional energy I invested in unrequited love.

I would want to tell the younger me: "None of this matters as much as you think it does.  There are pockets of peace and joy in your life, people around whom you feel free and fully accepted.  Seek those pockets and people more than the euphoria and agony you seem to be drawn to."

"Just have fun and be happy."

But the truth is, I'm not sure the younger me would have listened.  I'm not sure I could have listened then. I think it was something I just had to go through.

Younger Me doing my version of  The Scream, Spring 1992, Senior Year, Age 18.  This was taken during the senior class trip. Despite the fact that I was clowning in the photo, this was pretty  much how I was feeling during that time.  Which is a shame because it was a pretty great trip!

For years I felt a burning embarrassment at reading my journals from my high school years, especially my senior year.  They are so overwraught and full of desperation: Fits of cursing, loathing, rage, pathetic heartache all written in a large, angry scrawl.  Also a lot of bad poetry.  I just wanted to shake this kid and say "Dude! Get a grip!"  But I was 18 and full of adolescent desires.  Maybe I could have been different.  Maybe I wish I had been.

But. in the end, 25 years later., it all looks. . . fine. It was a bumpy passage in my life, but by any long term measures it simply wasn't a big deal.