What I’d Would Tell the 16 Year Old Me

Some time ago I had a strange conversation between myself now and the 16-year-old me from 1980. August 1981 - 17 Years old, 181 lbs.

This farcical conversation was wide sweeping and dealt with the changes in the world that include the introduction of the home computer, cell phones, cable television and 24 hour news and sports programing, and the fact that nuclear weapons have not been used by anyone anywhere in the time since 1980 when such a good revelation would come as a bit of a surprise.

We talked about our mutual love of sports and the pain and joy it has wrought like the fact that my local Seattle teams have never won a single championship in the 34 years since the Sonics won the 1979 NBA title, and the fact that the Sonics no longer exist.

Sonics game, probably 1978

Sonics game, probably 1978 (Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives)

But the most important part of our conversation had to do with my advice to him as he gazed into an unknown future.

“So what have we learned? What can you tell me?”, the 16-year-old me asked. 
“You want to know what I’d do differently?” I responded.
“No.” he said wisely. “I figure what you’ve learned will answer that question. I just want to know what you’ve found out; how you’ve grown.”
“First” I said, “I’ve learned to happily accept friendship wherever it’s offered and never worry too much if the person offering the friendship is the coolest, or the best looking, or even the most fun. Friendship is a treasure under any circumstance.”
He asked, “Are you saying I’m a bad guy because I’m not friends with everyone?”
“No. But you are unfulfilled because you have turned away from possible friendships for any number of reasons ranging from not thinking someone was cool enough, or pretty enough, or they were too cool or too pretty and you somehow didn’t think you could measure up.” I answered. “Friendships color your world, your life. And you can have more of them.”
Secondly I said, “I’ve learned to move past disappointments. I’ve learned they are inevitable and that if you embrace them too hard they become part of you. If you let them go they’re only part of the past.”
“Anything else?” he asked.
The Author in 2013 age 49 I told him, “I’ve learned to do what makes me happy.” I said, ”Time between where you are at age 16 and where I am in 2013 at age 49 has been a short period of time. And now I know that the time between now and the day I die, whenever that may be, will be even shorter. The time we have is fleeting and valuable. Spending it being angry, worrying about money, or stagnant with immobilization caused by fear or procrastination is a waste of time and a detriment to your happiness.”
“All that seems so simple.” he said.
I closed our encounter by telling the sixteen year old me, “It is simple. And it’s hard.” 

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