I’ve read some incredibly inspiring “letters” from individuals to their teenage selves, in the vein of “if I’d known then what I know now…” When I look back, however, I tend to find more inspiration in the person I once was. So, I thought I’d do a little method acting (think of that) and try to place myself into the brain of my 16-year-old self and see what advice I might have to give…to myself.
So, you reached 30, huh? That blows my mind on so many levels. Here are some things I hope you’ve remembered along the way…or, if you haven’t, START remembering:
– Don’t stop being weird. There was a time that we were hurt at the prospect of being considered strange. I still remember telling Mom in the car on the way to the farm that kids at school (we were in about 5th grade, remember) were calling me weird. It wasn’t in a bullying way, but I found that it bothered me and even hurt. I liked different music. I read different things. I watched irreverent TV shows and old black-and-white movies. I was sensitive but outspoken. I wasn’t quite a tomboy, but was far from a girlie girl. Today, as my 1998 self, I’m terribly proud of the fact that I’m still that person. As far as the tiny school bubble in which I live, I exist amicably with most everyone, and have been lucky enough to find acceptance. I’m hoping that you’re able to maintain who we are without apologies.
– Stay friends with the people you truly trust. You know, the ones who don’t talk behind your back and make you nothing but paranoid. The ones who accept your weirdness. And try to remember to be a good friend back at ’em, ‘cuz they may stick with you for the long haul. Oh, and anyone who’s put up with your Monkees obsession…yeah, they deserve a place in some Hall of Fame some place.
– Say what you feel, when it matters. I know we have a tendency to be loud-mouthed, opinionated and incredibly outspoken when we’re around people we’re comfortable with, but at the same time incredibly insecure and shy when we’re intimidated by larger-than-life personalities (like a certain teacher we all know) or unknown experiences. It’s okay to be shy, but don’t let that stand in your way of doing things. And DON’T let ass&%#@$ pile-drive you. ‘Cuz there’s always gonna be ass&%#@$.
– Try new things. I even have a hard time with this one today, myself. Remember when we were sick for “Oliver!” auditions and you didn’t take the chance to try out? We were lucky when Jen moved and you got her part, but it didn’t feel very earned, did it? Nope. Just go forth and have frickin’ fun. We’ll only live once, and as cliche as that sounds, it’s damn true.
– Don’t live life for anyone but yourself…er, us. Recently, I told Mom (remember, after church school on our way home?) that I thought I’d like to get better at guitar and maybe try seeing if I could make a go at a folksinger type of life (ie not necessarily go to college). She immediately put us down. Didn’t feel so good, did it? While it’s important to make her happy, at what point will you realize that you have to make YOU happy, too? I hope you’ve been successful with this one. It’s a biggie.
– In other words, do what you love. Whatever that may be.
– Marry a nice guy who you can laugh with, and who you don’t mind taking care of when they get old/sick. And if you can’t find someone you can laugh with, or who can accept you and your weirdness, just keep looking. ‘Cuz the dating pool here in Mohawk is not the end of the line, thank God.
– Keep busy! Play at least one sport, and try to do something creative, like, always. I personally think you should stick with tennis, especially since Katharine Hepburn is STILL doing it in her frickin’ 90s! Plus, you can be competitive without needing a full-blown team. Oh, I suppose I should also clarify — keep busy DOING FUN THINGS. Things that you enjoy doing. Don’t keep playing oboe if it’s not fun for you…and DON’T feel guilty if you stop. But, if you ever miss something, try it again and see if it’s still in your blood. It’s okay to do that, especially since these days it’s more of a chore to do homework and practice oboe, sax, piano and voice for SoloFest, on top of tennis and marching band. It might be more fun when it’s less pressure.
– Long live the Monkees. And Dave Foley & KITH. And Jimmy Stewart. And Bruce Ward. And NEVER, EVER wear tapered-leg jeans again, if you can help it, even if they come back “in.” Always keep a pair of flared legs on hand. No more perms. Oh, and no matter how much we love Peter Tork…don’t do the bowl cut ever again. That is all.
– Be a mom. Don’t ever let anyone make you question whether you want kids; you do. Not only have you always wanted them (hell, remember cracking the JC Penney catalog to the nursery section every time we got a new one, instead of the toys? Gave Mom a heart attack, alright! Heh heh.), but you were born to be a mom. Even if you don’t have everything else figured out, HAVE KIDS. For me. And be a cool mom. Strict, but cool.
Lessons learned. And apparently I’ve always had a thing for bullet points.