To me, sixteen is an age when we think we know everything, yet we know almost nothing.
Many years ago, I read an excerpt from the book Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self.
One of the funniest bits of advice was musician Alice Cooper telling his younger self, “Trashy girls are exciting for about five minutes … keep your eyes out for a really good lookin’ church girl.”
When actor James Woods wrote, “And most importantly, call your brother on July 26, 2006, and tell him he must go to a different hospital,” my eyes instantly filled with tears.
I couldn’t help but ask myself: what would I tell my sixteen-year old self? To me, sixteen is an age when we think we know everything, yet we know almost nothing. At that age, I had little freedom, energy, time, or money, but I had drive, desire, and ambition. Without too much analysis, here is my letter to my sixteen-year-old self.
You have recently realized that your dream of being a professional ballerina will never come true. The despair that you feel right now will not last forever so don’t do anything stupid and don’t accept any more pills from mother. You are suffering the first of many bouts of depression in your life; however, you will survive. Your strength, stubbornness, and sense of humor will lift you out of your sadness.
- Stop wishing you were less sensitive. Your deep sensitivity toward people and the world around you stimulates your creativity. Work with your nature—not against it.
- Stop comparing your physical appearance to other girls. You may not be “model beautiful” but you will become an incredibly attractive, sexy, young woman who never longs for male company. Be yourself, and people—both men and women—will be drawn to you.
- Don’t focus too much on money. You are so afraid of being poor that you will do foolish things for it. The most rewarding experiences in life have nothing to do with your net worth or your credit score.
- You already suspect that you may raise your two-year-old sister Adrienne one day. You are correct. As soon as you obtain custody of her, take her to a doctor and make him test her for hepatitis B and C. Have her liver enzymes monitored as well. These actions may very well save her life.
- Remember your favorite question in The Book of Questions? You chose the answer: “a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure—intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks.” You will live such a life, and it will never be boring.
- Many of your dreams will come true in unexpected ways.
- Your parents are not who you think they are.
- Keep a journal every day.
Your 39-year-old self
Originally published on December 27, 2011 on my previous blog titled Pondering happiness, hope, wisdom