A reader asked me what advice I would give my adolescent self, knowing what I know now. It is a difficult question to answer. I am nearly thirty years old now and my life back then was wildly different. I was not self-sufficient. I presented a different gender. I thought that I was invincible. Much has changed in the past 10+ years. Different chapters of my life have come and gone and different people have as well. The only thing constant in this life has been change. However, I do wish that my younger self was more in tune with their personality. I wish that they had asked the questions that I waited until later to ask. My identity may still be fluid and weak, but I do have a grasp of how I function now. That younger person did not.
Those younger days were spent drifting from person to person, taking what I could and leaving them as soon as they had no more to give. I was a creature of the moment. I had little direction in life and would move from opportunity to opportunity as they sounded acceptable. I never bothered to scope out my future or my direction in life. My goals would shift on a daily basis. I had many acquaintances but few friends. Most importantly, I never bothered to understand myself – I was too busy living life in the moment.
That is not to say that I live any less in the moment now. However, I now have an idea of my thought processes and the picture they paint. Gaining direction in life has taken an arduous journey of introspection. I may not know where I will sleep tomorrow, but I do know what I want to get out of my days: to know myself and the world a bit better than the day before.
There are still echoes of that younger self in my present self but my current self is much more focused and much more restrained. The only way that could have been possible, in the absence of a life event that forced me to rein in my ways, was through the introspection I engaged in during the past few years. I have often said that I neither wish to be psychopath nor otherwise, but the knowledge of who I am and how I function was necessary to succeed in life regardless of what label came associated with such.
To my younger self: learn what you can about the world and yourself. Only then can you map the future you want and reach the maturity you so badly need. You will not “die” as a result but will be reborn as a stronger and more focused person. Also, do not delay in that journey: the echoes of the present will be reflected in your future.