So this “ten things you’d tell your 16-year-old self” meme is really interesting, and I’m learning a lot about people from it, but I’m having a hard time putting myself in the right mindset to come up with interesting answers. The point of the thought-exercise would be to change the past, but if I change the past, I would risk losing people who are very very important to me because what led up to my meeting them didn’t happen. For instance, Boston would have been a better place for me to go to school than New Haven (and I say Boston rather than Harvard because I think UMass or Tufts would have gotten me into the same urban setting), but if I hadn’t gone to Yale I wouldn’t have met beetiger
, among other people, and I wouldn’t want to give her up. And if I’d found myself in Boston several years earlier, I would have found a different social circle and the community dynamics would have been different when all my actual friends and sweeties showed up in Boston (if I’d even meet them), and I might not have those relationships.
However, for the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to ignore all those issues and pretend that shuffling the deck and dealing a new hand is something I’m OK with. Otherwise it would be all “Make absolutely sure
you go to this party that your friend invites you to, and be really certain
you say yes when this other person asks you if they can bring a friend to your party, and don’t be late
to this event, but make sure you’re late
for this other one”.
So anyway, here’s some information for my 16-year-old self:
- It gets much, much better. You will have a rich community of friends and a tribe that supports you and (perhaps not as often as you’d like) lovers who love and respect and appreciate you. You are not the only person who thinks, feels, and believes this way.
- You should live in Boston. It totally rules.
- But if you do end up at Yale, take some history while you’re there. And wherever you end up, make sure you take some math and music.
- Go see the doctor about it early when you feel like your mental faculties are starting to flag. And be pushy. And make sure they do bloodwork. And follow all your hunches, even when a particular one of them seems to be leading somewhere. And if you feel like a doctor is talking down to you or brushing you off about it, find another doctor. It’s fixable. Oh, and by the way, here’s a stack of printouts of correspondence between you and your doctors from 2006 and 2007, and lab reports and diagnoses, just in case any of it helps. This shiny disc is called a CD-ROM; in the late 80s or early 90s you'll come into contact with devices that can read it, and in the early to mid 90s you’ll have access to software that will be able to read the images on it. It’s got pictures of your brain on it. How cool is that?
(Yeah, “how cool is that” is something the kids are saying in the 21st century as they fly around with their jetpacks and bump into each other in the corridors of the space station on their way to vacation on Mars.)
- Help your sister sort and find a home for your father’s books and papers after he dies, before they get destroyed by a burst pipe.
- If you get involved with people when you’re not 100% sure it’s the right thing to do, you won’t ever regret it, even if you end up deeply hurt. If you don’t get involved with people when you’re not 100% sure it’s the right thing to do, sometimes you will regret it.
- This is going to be really frightening, but Richard Nixon is not going to be the worst president of your lifetime.
- Despite that, wait until at least November of 2008 before deciding you have to flee the country.
- You know that company that wrote the BASIC interpreter in your Commodore 64? Buy their stock.
- Oh, and along those lines, decide to sell the house in Malden in late 2005 or early 2006, not late 2006. And Quincy would be a lovely place to live!
(By 16 I was in the middle of the experiment that thoroughly confirmed to me my suspicion that I couldn’t be happy in a monogamous relationship, but if I could go back a year earlier or so, I could give myself that piece of advice, too.)