Riffing on a Fark.com thread, John Lynch ponders the pearls of wisdom he might offer his 12-year-old self. This got me to thinking that there is useful advice I’d want to share with that earlier time-slice of me, but there is also information about which I think I’d keep earlier-me in the dark.*
Here’s what I’d share with my 12-year-old self:
- Hardly any academic setting will be so insulting of your intelligence as seventh grade — so hang in there.
- There are very few creatures more willfully vicious than teenage girls — but much of this is in response to cultural forces that don’t want to let females be fully human (really!), and most of them will grow out of it.
- Despite the fact that everyone sees you as a total klutz, as an adult you will demonstrate not only coordination, but flashes of athleticism.
- That kid in all your classes who seems like she might be trouble really is trouble, but in exactly the right way to harness your teen rebellion for good rather than evil. (Also, she’ll grow up to be a rocket scientist, and she’ll be a friend for life.)
- Don’t waste any more time trying to figure out fashion. Do figure out how to dress for the weather.
There are a few facts I wouldn’t share with my 12-year-old self, on the theory that they might screw up parts of my journey that turned out to be important:
- You won’t end up being a doctor or a practicing scientist.
- You will end up being a philosopher.
- Your twenties will be way better than your teens, and your thirties way better than your twenties.
- Your parents will end up appreciating who you are as a person, but it won’t really happen until you’ve gotten to the point where you realize that you’re the one who has to be happy with yourself.
*Is it paternalistic to withhold information from myself at an earlier age? Can one be paternalistic toward oneself?