***This is a continuation of an earlier post. It is a letter containing 13 things I wrote to my 13-year-old self. Click here to read part one (if you haven’t already or if you loved it so much you want to read it again and again). Otherwise, continue on and BEGIN PART TWO***
4. You seem like you might have a slight inclination toward the dramatic… In the same way that Everest might be described as claiming a slight increase in elevation. Believe me, life brings enough drama and emotion on its own; you do not need to invent more. I know part of it is hormonal; the teenage years are brutal like that. You are learning to navigate this new emotional realm. And you are doing well; I know there is a lot going on. You spend a lot of time in deeply emotive states right now. They have a word they use now to describe individuals who inhabit this realm: emo. It’s quite the thing to be among kids these days (or was quite the thing, I think there might be something else now). But you can say that you were emo before it was cool; in fact, you could say that you are “pre-mo” (you can thank WTG at school on Monday for coining that one). Way to go, you trendsetter, you. (Oh, but speaking of inventing things – not drama – and trendsetting… please for the love of everything pure and good and wonderful in the world, start patenting your ideas! You would not believe the number of things you’ve thought up and will think up that exist now. Those ideas of yours are worth millions. To other people. Because you haven’t protected them as intellectual property. Do it.
You I We could be rich!). But seriously, life is challenging in its own right. Do your best to not make it harder on yourself. You’ll turn out just fine; I promise.
5. I like math. A lot. Do you know why? Because I am actually quite good at it. And so are you. You just think you aren’t because it doesn’t come as naturally to you as other subjects. The thing about it is that you have to actually do it to be good at it. But it’s also a perishable skill, so you have to keep doing it. And doing things at all is difficult for you. I know. I struggle with it, too. Don’t worry if your grade isn’t as high as in the other subjects; I don’t even remember what your grades look like anymore (and I just saw them a few weeks ago because you are a serious packrat and never throw anything away). And nobody else really remembers, either. Sure, they might recall that you were a “good student” or even a “mostly A student”, but they aren’t keeping your GPA on file. This is not permission to slack off; it’s permission to let go of the tools that measure your performance and focus instead on learning all you can, which is what you enjoy most anyway. It keeps that turbocharged brain of yours busy. And knowledge will be a lot more useful to you in your life than your grades ever will. If you have the knowledge, you’ll get the grades. But if you focus on the grades, there’s a good possibility you will miss the point altogether.
6. Keep writing. As with math, it’s the only way to improve. And let me just congratulate you here for your foresight in publishing your early work under a pseudonym. That was a brilliant move. I wish I’d thought of it. You write a lot of emotional, tormented pieces. For someone who has never been to war, you seem to have a pretty good handle on it. Odd. One day, you will do a lot of your writing on the internet. Believe it or not, people will actually read some of the things you write. Complete strangers. Incomplete strangers. Hitchhikers. Friends. Family.
And spambots. That sounds like a lot of people. It really isn’t. It’s like six or seven max. Except the spambots. That’s probably closer to 600-700. They seem to really like your stuff. Spambots are like robots on the internet, but not real robots that will clean your house, more like virtual robots You know what? Nevermind. You don’t really need to know that much about the internet right now. Just know that it gets bigger. Way bigger. And a bit more relevant. And someday you’ll even have your own access to the world wide web (nobody calls it that anymore, by the way) and won’t have to go to P’s house to get online. You’ll even have your own website. That’s when you know you’ve arrived.
7. You really can be and do anything you want. However, be careful in your selection of dreams because you, unfortunately, can’t be and do everything you want. Bummer, right? You will have to make choices. Ironically, you seem to live most of your life by the mantra of “Ready, Fire, Aim!” – which, in retrospect, may not be the greatest strategy – but you also tend to hesitate a lot because you are afraid to close doors (not actually an effective strategy, either). Look, some doors are going to close, and they will close whether you close them or not (see? not effective, perhaps you should cross “strategist” off your list of potential careers). Time will close many of them if you wait too long to decide. Don’t overthink it. Just because you decide one day to pursue one career, or major, or life path doesn’t mean you can’t adjust fire later to find something else that is more meaningful to you down the road.
You will have a lot of opportunities come your way. Keep your eyes open. Keep your heart open. The best advice I can give you is to listen to yourself. Everyone will have an opinion about things you should do/not do/say/not say/think/not think/feel/ not feel… and sometimes what they say will make a lot of sense in your mind, but do a quick azimuth check and make sure it also makes sense internally. If it does, press forward. If it doesn’t, and you press forward anyway, you’ll know pretty quickly that it wasn’t the right move for you. Life is full of exceptions and exceptional people. You are one of them.
8. I want to talk to you about adversity for a minute. You are going to face many difficult trials and circumstances in your life. I guess that’s the trade off for the great opportunities, eh? There will be times you will be tempted to give up, to wonder if it is worth it, to wonder if you are worth it. It is and you are. Do not give up. Do not despair. You are a natural, rational optimist. That is an incredible gift. When things get really difficult, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and rely on that ridiculously optimistic voice in your soul that says it will all turn out just fine. Because it will. Truth be told, it will be better than fine. It will be amazing. Everything will work to your good. There may be minutes that seem to take hours, and hours that seem to go on for days. And days that seem to go on for years. And years that feel like they will take your entire lifetime. But the most difficult minute you will ever face will still only last sixty seconds. The hardest day will only last 24 hours. And a year is still only 365.242 days long (I think they are working on correcting that so the passage of time is a little more accurate, but the standards suffice for our purposes today). There will always be reason to hope.
“Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.” (D&C 58:3).
One day, perhaps when you’re my age, you will look back across an expanse of time, and you will smile as you realize that every moment traversed – however big or small, difficult or easy – brought you to the present. And the present is a great place to be.
9. Be happy. Enjoy your life. It is a wonderful life. It is full of great adventures (and misadventures). It is all you dream and yet you could not imagine the course it will take. Don’t live so far in the future that you stop appreciating the present. And don’t dwell on mistakes of the past, either. They happen to everyone. Forgive. Your parents try hard. Go easy on them. Life is short; don’t take a single moment for granted. Enjoy those silly trips with your mother to the grocery store where you anthropomorphize items to convince her to let them come home with you. Because before you know it, you’re all grown up, and you no longer have the opportunity to go every week. Hold tight to the ones you love, whether you have hours, days, weeks, months, or years to spend with them. If you always appreciate the moment you are in, and the people with whom you share it, you will have no cause for regret. Smile often. You have a beautiful smile (but don’t brush your teeth so hard… you’ll damage the gums, wear down the enamel, and expose the nerves).
***END PART TWO. Will Stubbs finish the post on the next episode? Will there be sarcasm? Will the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder escape from Penguin’s umbrella factory in time to successfully foil Freeze’s attempt to steal the Circle of Ice Diamond? Stay tuned for the the exciting conclusion. Same web time. Same web channel.***