Things I’d say to me if I could go back in time and have a conversation with my younger self

October 18, 2008 at 2:46 am 8 comments

So, kid, I’m you from 10 years in the future. Hard to believe? Well, let’s see… The worst moment in your life was when you twisted Polly’s arm and thought you’d broken it. You once stole a couple of books from the school library by erasing all records of them. Oh, and your dad once hit you for calling him a pervert when you had no idea what the word meant. Now do you believe I’m you? Good. I don’t have much time and there’s a lot I want to tell you, so listen up.

First up, you’re not lazy because you can’t get up in the mornings: You have a sleep disorder. You’re don’t hate yourself because you’re a horrible person: You’re have a mood disorder.

Being a nice guy doesn’t give you some magic entitlement to true love and happiness. Being a nice guy isn’t something you want to be anyway. Try to be a good person instead. What’s the difference? When a nice guy gets rejected he feels hurt that his niceness hasn’t been rewarded and resentful of the stupid bitch who’d obviously prefer to go out with some complete bastard instead of him. Don’t try to argue, I know you feel that way because I did when I was you. Yes, you feel guilty about it as well, but just because you know that it’s not right doesn’t make it any better. That’s why you should try to be a good person – less guilt and much better results. Good people sometimes feel hurt by rejection, but they don’t harbour evil little grudges about it.

And while we’re on the subject, becoming hopelessly obsessed with girls you’ve barely spoken to isn’t a good thing. No, it’s not love, it’s some form of agonised longing. Maybe you’re trying to find someone to love you because you don’t even like yourself and you’re desperately trying to fill the aching gap that leaves in your life. But I’m not here to play psychologist. I’m not having a go at you about it. But people can tell and it makes them uncomfortable. It’s not romantic. It’s creepy. Particularly the staring at people when you think they’re not looking. Stop it.

On the other hand, you should definitely try to make eye contact with people, but not too much because that’s also kind of creepy.

Forget everything you think you know about romance. The stuff in books and in films would, in real life, result in restraining orders.

See, your problem is, you think being in a relationship or having sex will solve all your problems. Neither will, not by a long way. Just relax about it a little. You’re not going to die a virgin, I promise. Don’t look so surprised – even if you’ve never told anyone, I know it’s one of your greatest fears. I’m you, remember?

The internet isn’t the solution to all your problems either.

Now my next piece of advice is going to make you feel pretty awful. I’m sorry, but it’s important. We both know you’re fat and that you think you’re horribly ugly. And yeah, of course it has a huge impact on how people see you. But people would like you a whole lot more if you made some kind of effort with your appearance. In fact you should probably start with showering more often. Don’t look at me like that, I warned you it’d make you feel awful. That’s because you know it’s true.

You’re terribly pale, too. So try and remember that the sun is not your enemy.

Yes, people could like you more. Nobody dislikes you because you’re fat, well, except for you of course. It’s the crushingly low self-confidence that makes you seem kind of pathetic and puts people off. If you want people to like you then you need to be able to talk to them. What do you mean how? You just talk to them.

Ok, for example, it doesn’t matter if the things you enjoy aren’t cool or popular. You know that, right? And you’re completely right. You enjoy whatever you enjoy regardless of what other people think of it. But it doesn’t hurt to try to appreciate the cool and popular things, too. You’ll meet lots of people who love that stuff – that’s how come it’s so popular, right? – and you’ll get on with them better if you don’t think all the stuff they like is complete crap.

That applies to religious people too. What? Of course I’m still an atheist. Being religious doesn’t make you stupid, right? I know you tend to think that everyone who believes in gods must be a complete moron, but there’s a lot of smart religious folk around. Just think of them as having one bit of their mind that’s completely delusional and try not to get into arguments about it.

I know the one thing you think you have going for you is your intelligence. But being clever isn’t enough. At some point you’ll have to learn how to actually work at things rather than coasting along. And don’t try to make other people feel dumb just so you can feel superior to them in one small way.

You’re going to have to work pretty hard and go through a lot of shit to become me. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s going to be a tough decade. I know you think you’ll be an adult soon and then you’ll be capable and know how to do all the things you find so difficult now. But there’s isn’t some big moment where you go from being a confused kid to being a responsible adult. There’s no age where you find yourself suddenly filled with confidence and certainty. You just get a bit hairier about the face and have more experience in dealing with things. Most things are easier the second time round.

I have to go now. No, I didn’t come in a DeLorean and I’m not waiting for a bolt of lightning. But I want to make a promise: Things will get better eventually. Goodbye kid. Look after yourself. And don’t tell anyone about this because they’ll think you’re even crazier than you actually are.


Entry filed under: Self-Obsession, The Past is Another Country. Tags: .

Infertility update Teeth, mind, sleep

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. experimental chimp  |  October 18, 2008 at 2:49 am

    I had fun writing this, so if anyone wants to adopt it as a meme then feel free.

  • 2. Rose  |  October 18, 2008 at 3:04 am

    Do you think you’d have listened to you?

    This was heartening to read. That kid was strong – he just didn’t know it yet. You’ve done well.

  • 3. experimental chimp  |  October 18, 2008 at 3:07 am

    I doubt it. I suspect my response would mostly have been “Even my own older self doesn’t understand me! I’m so alone!”

  • 4. t  |  October 18, 2008 at 4:04 am

    Good post…I’d agree with Rose, and say that I think you actually knew almost all of this back then – the hygiene and social and sex stuff – even if you didn’t always act on it. And yeah, he would’ve been a little disappointed in your compromise on religion.

    I think the most pertinent piece is your second paragraph, where you indicate what seems to have helped you the most – shifting the responsibility for the negatives in your life from internal to external factors. External factors can be changed by therapy and pharms, the self can’t be. I don’t think you’ve ever mentioned trying either as a teenager?

    Anyway, it made me think. I’d probably tell my teen self to stay off the Accutane, and throw in a few stock picks, but otherwise to just ease your way through life. Even though I was certainly lazy/beneath my potential, I don’t think I would’ve told myself to work harder. The kid’s already pretty stressed as it is, you know?

  • 5. Cellar_Door  |  October 18, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Hmm, interesting idea…I think I would just give my younger self a good kicking and tell her to pull herself together…

  • 6. It was 20 years ago today « Aethelread the Unread  |  October 21, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    […] was 20 years ago today Right, I’ve nicked this idea from the experimental chimp, or, as he puts it, I have adopted it as a […]

  • 7. adifferentvoice  |  October 23, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Brilliant! Made me smile a lot – getting an important message across with a lot of wit. I’m going to print it off and think about what I’d say to my ten year old self thirty or so years on!


  • 8. Now I am one « Aethelread the Unread  |  March 2, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    […] I’m capable of) have crept onto the blog.  The standout example is this (which was based on an idea and structure supplied by experimental chimp, so it’s very far from being all my own work), and it’s […]

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Hi, I'm James. I'm a 26 year old guy from England with bipolar disorder (currently well controlled). I also have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (not so well controlled). This blog has charted my journey from mental illness, through diagnosis and, recently, into recovery. It's not always easy, but then, what is?


Self-righteous note about smoking

As of 12th September 2008 it has been forty five weeks since I quit smoking. So in another seven weeks it'll have been a whole year.

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