Sitting down with me aged 16 would start with a look; the kind that Al Pacino and Marlon Brando used to shoot across their mahogany desks in The Godfather.
I would hope that Me-16 would infer from the gaze that a shitstorm of epic proportions was a-coming.
‘Is that the wind?’
‘No, it’s a fuckstorm that lasts decades.’
I want to save Me-16 from my life, from the pain and disappointment, from the rejection and depression and anxiety. From all of it. Run fast, I might be tempted to scream; never look back.
But where could Me-16 run to away from herself?
I couldn’t break her heart by telling her what was to come. No. If I said anything I would have to be selective.
I’d tell her she’d travel the world and dine with kings and princes.
I’d tell her she’d get a black belt and parachute wings.
I’d tell her that she’d write for radio and present on TV.
I’d tell her she’d own her own home with the garden she’d always wanted.
I’d tell her that the love of her family would never leave her.
I’d tell her that she would learn how to help people professionally.
I’d tell her she’d write novels and paint pictures.
I’d tell her that she was an empath, an artist and a teacher at heart.
Then I’d reach for her hand and put it in mine.
I’d tell her that I didn’t yet know how it would all end, but that I was sure there was a purpose to it all. Maybe not my purpose, but a greater purpose. And that I needed to grit my teeth and remember that faith is a seed that is planted in doubt.
Don’t have dead-people’s goals, I’d tell her, to be kind on her perfectionist, yet-to-understand-life brain. Only the dead aren’t disappointed, aren’t betrayed, aren’t alone, don’t fail.
Discomfort is the price of a meaningful life. Learn to fucking love it.
And while you’re doing that, blaze a trail across the sky, the likes of which this world has never seen before.
What would you tell your 16 year-old self? Leave your comments.