What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

I would tell 16-year-old April not to think so hard about art school, because it’s really just a very expensive way to be told what to create, and once something because an obligation, it stops being any fun. I would tell her that she really needs to start paying attention in US History class, not only because it’s required to graduate and the make-up assignment is not fun, but also because that shit is just interesting, and her 27-year-old self won’t feel so ignorant for having only just now begun making some important connections. I would also tell her that absolutely no guy that she goes to high school with or meets while in high school is in any way important enough to waste so many diary pages over and that she will continue to be friends with absolutely zero of the ones she was romantically involved with a decade later. I would also remind her that no one needs to have an N*SYNC song dedicated to them, for any reason. Lastly, I would tell her that paying more attention to the way that you’re dressed and the length of your hair than everything else going on around you will really piss you off later, because it only postpones the actual soul-searching you’ll inevitably need to do in life, and it’s much easier to get a good chunk of that over with in high school.

What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

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14 Responses to What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

  1. Clarence says:

    Two things:

    A. High school really IS crazy, because no adults are in charge and there is no use for the kids nor any real role modeling or career modeling going on for the most part. Thus it is just one big popularity contest.

    B. Girls aren’t mysterious creatures who are more moral than you but crazy at the same time.

    • April says:

      Completely agree with A. Had I realized then that it was just a big popularity contest, I would have checked out and went in another, likely more productive, direction.

  2. Cessen says:

    I went to a total nerd high school, so I felt pretty at-home with a lot of like-minded people. And it came directly after a horrible middle-school experience, so also due to that contrast I was pretty happy. High school was actually pretty good to me, for the most part.

    But, having said that:

    1. It’s not disrespectful or wrong to want to have sex with a girl (either a specific girl, or in general). Similarly, it is not disrespectful or wrong to fantasize about said girls. Your sexuality is not a dangerous thing that needs to be suppressed. It is a good and positive thing that you should revel in.
    2. Women are not a “superior” gender. You are not a worse person because you are male.
    3. You will be respected and admired later in life. Don’t worry. It’s most important to have respect for yourself, anyway.

  3. David K says:

    What could I tell my 16-year old self?

    1. In the next 7 years you will finish passing through the usual process of disillusionment and become disillusioned with that – but you will not become a Neo-Tory.
    2. Oddly enough, you will be more optimistic about the future of socialism in 2010 than you were in 2004 – I wont tell you exactly why, but it does have something to do with the house price bubble you’ve just started complaining about.
    3. Remember that the subjective value of your life can go up as well as down, and that a lot depends on the broader market conditions.

  4. Jim says:

    1. Stop trying to like everyone. Respect yourself and your feelings about people better than that. There are so many wonderful people in the world that you can afford to sidestep the assholes.

    2. It gets better.

    3. You don’t have to come out in your teens or twenties. You can live several lives in one lifetime. There are benefits to going either way.

    4. Likewise don’t stress about choosing a career. Life won’t respect that choice so you had better be ready to be nimble instead of persistent.

    4.a. A career or a job is not how you prove your worth. It can never validate you, justr delude you with cheap triumphs. If it pays the mortgage without killing your soul or destroying your family life, it’s a good job – you are doing useful work. If it were not useful to someone, no one wuoould be paying oyu for it.

    5. Persistence is important but judgment is more important. Don’t stay in bad situations – jobs, relationships, climates – when they go bad just because you’re afraid that will make you a quitter. Die In Place is a sour joke, not life advice.

    6. As you get older, you find yourself agreeing with all the kneejerk reactions you had in your youngest years, all those opinions you were ashamed of back then. You will find that you were right the first time. This will teach how much to trust conventional wisdom.

    7. You will miss your grandparents and your parents more than anyone else you meet in life, unless your kids go before you.

    7.b. Enjoy your kids while they are around. They have to leave someday, and that’s time you can never get back. You don’t have a moment to lose with them.

    8. No one you know now in high school will matter more than a paving stone in five years. Their opinions of anything and anyone mean nothing now and will mean even less later on. Enjoy them as friends for now. They will scatter to their own lives in a short time.

    9. All those little things that used to hold your interest so much as a little child, and give you so much joy, that you turned away from as crutches and distractions so you could deal with big important stuff and face out into the wide world? You will come to appreciate them again, and not just to please a child or a grandchild, as you finally realize that in the face of the universe the whole wide world is itself a very little thing.

  5. Danny says:

    1. Go ahead and start getting into computers now because it will save you a lot of catchup later.

    2. Yes high school social life really is that pointless and silly.

    3. Get out more often and mingle with people. Trust me it will save you a lot of questions later.

    4. When you get to college get out and mingle with people. Trust me it will save you even more questions later.

    4a. And while you are out there mingling don’t be scared to experiment. Again this is to save you questions later on.

    5. Most people don’t like doormats. So don’t become a doormat. Save the trouble of changing later.

    6. On the morning of March 8, 2004 wake up as early as possible and get your ass there. I don’t care if the cops chase you all the way there and you lose your license on the spot, light the fires, burn the tires and get your ass there before 7am.

    7. And when you first hear about a company called Google (funny name I know) invest as soon as possible.

    • April says:

      Naturally, I’m terribly curious as to what you’re referring to in number 6. And I totally feel you on 7; Jesse also mentioned that his brother was like, “dude, invest in Google” a few years ago, and he blew him off. Oh how rich we could be.

    • Danny says:

      6. My mom had been in the hospital all week long (the of her battle with cancer) and I had been there with her. On Thursday night my dad talked me into going home and showering and sleeping and coming back the next day. When I woke up the next morning (Friday March 8) my dad called me and said, “You need to get here.” and heard the sound of my mom breathing heavily (and sounding like she was in pain) over the phone. Bear in mind I live out in the country to home was about an hour away from the hospital. My sister and I got there about 10 minutes after she died. Meaning after sitting by her side for 5 days she dies the one morning I wasn’t there.

      Basically number 6 is to prevent myself from having the last thing I hear from my mom be the sound of heavy painful breathing. Like I said I don’t care if I set a speed record or lose my license for the rest of life I’d still do it.

    • April says:

      Oh, I’m so sorry, Danny…

    • Danny says:

      Thanks. You know how nearly every person if possible could name a single moment in their life and change history? This is one of the few things in my entire life I would actually go back and change if I could.

  6. David K says:

    Yeah, and one more thing: you never do find out if you’re too smart or too dumb for this shit – no-one ever does.

  7. Miguel Bloomfontosis says:

    I’d tell my 16 y.o. self to start dating girls, and that it’s okay to pursue a sexual relationship and actually have sex. As it happens, I was abstinent in high school, but not for religious reasons. When I was 16, I actually believed that “it gets better” after high school. Unfortunately, I took this advice as a reason to put my life on hold, and so rather than trying to deal with the idiotic high school “dating scene,” I just checked out and became a “closeted heterosexual.” And that’s too bad. And not much fun, either.

  8. Beautifamous says:

    Yes, sex is -still- fun and it’s gets even more so but for the love of your sanity USE AN EFFING CONDOM! Getting knocked up at 16 and later having a miscarriage at 17 drove me insane – literally. It was also not worth all of the effing fertility issues I have now.

  9. Schala says:

    Umm, I’m not sure what I would tell my 16 years old self. Deeply depressed, extremely repressed main personality behind a facade one (who came to be more than that over time, but still nothing equivalent).

    1) You’re right, you’re a girl, yes, not deluded. Go look up trans stuff and do something about it so you get hormones secured ASAP whatever it takes. (Not that hormone changes between 16-23 were dramatic, but it did change my voice somewhat (used to get laughed at how girly I sounded), and if I started hormones then, I’d be completely free of facial hair, as opposed to almost-hairless…I’d also avoid much of the worst 7 years of my life).

    1a) Females have no specific essence that give them genitals of a certain type. It might give something that’s quite untangible (but probably somewhat verifiable with the recent studies on gender identity + BSTc), but it’s not genitals or reproductive gear.

    2) Stop thinking you’re a nice guy when you’re not even a guy. (You do feel pretty exceptional and nice if everyone feels extremely different and less amicable, and you can’t fathom being a boy, so assume you’re an exception that proves the rule)

    3) Find out about BDSM communities, lolita fashion and videogame testing early on. The latter is not just a dream, it’s accessible.

    4) Don’t trust your brother until he’s mid-20s. He will steal from you and cause your bankrupcy in big part. (He owes me 6000$ and stole 500$ cash + 1000$ of stuff from me in the past, not proven – I wasn’t there, he was).

    5) Try to quit smoking ASAP, it’s pretty costly for someone with low enough income.

    6) DONT cut your hair for some stupid girl who doesn’t even consider you as furniture whom you THINK you love, but will later realize you just wanted a friend… (I realized my feelings were not romantic and went “WTF, how did I think it was for 5 years” – we never were a couple btw). Keep growing your hair like you just started doing (I had chin-length hair at 16, buzzcut at 17, mid-back at 21, tailbone at 22, and as long since).

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