That old friend hindsight. He offers us insight of words we should have said but never did, things we did that we shouldn’t have done, and attitudes we adopted that just weren’t helpful.
I’ve been pondering lately what I wish I’d have known on that day I walked out of school. I remember it very well. a 16-year-old boy with a very questionable haircut strolling out of his last exam, into the sunset. (I hate clichés but it actually was dead sunny)
So if I had the opportunity of a chance meeting with my 16-year-old self, what would I tell me?
Education is fucking great.
That would literally be the first thing I would address. I drifted through school, like a phantom of disappointment. Expected A’s, scraped C’s. I was far too invested in my peers opinion of me, for some bizarre reason. I wasn’t popular, but tried my utmost to be. I was the weird kid who listened to weird music, who supported a weird football team. Instead I should have focused more on the lessons of Irish conflict, the literature of John Steinbeck, and Miss Lawn’s insight into how the media works. All things now I have to cram into my spare time whilst juggling a 9-5. I’d grab me by the scruff of the neck, and slap me with a copy of “Of Mice & Men”, and tell me to embrace it.
Whatever People Say I Am, That Is What I Am Not
Not just the title of one of the greatest albums of all time.
Those from Keighley, my hometown, are well aware of its plights. An old industrial town, that has never really grown in stature. If you live in Keighley, you hate Keighley. Sewn into the very seams of this towns DNA seems to be gossip. A small, compact, habitat where everybody seems to know everybody elses business. I too was caught up in this game as a youth. I describe myself as a late developer in many senses. I’m 23 years old and feel I’m only just really starting to grow as a person, so what have I been doing for the last 7 years. Immersing myself in the current affairs of my generation. Worrying, pondering why rumours even about myself are doing the rounds. Wondering what people think of me. In truth I had about 5 friends who I ultimately whose opinion mattered to me. Everyone else, just wasn’t important, and ironically I haven’t seen since.
“Should I do this, because so and so might think this of me…”
No. Stop. Cut the bullshit. Do what you want to do, as long as it doesn’t upset anybody. Do what the fuck you want, and I’d slap me again.
One of my bigger regrets in life is being 23, and not really done anything major with my life so far. Others have their own houses with partners, some have already travelled the world, twice. It links with my previous point. Being so keen not to miss out on social excursions meant a lot of money was blown on nights out I can’t even remember,on clothes that are currently sat in charity shops. A brief flirtation with gambling addiction from a young age didn’t help. But I’d give my 16-year-old self the biggest piggy bank you could find and instruct them to fill that motherfucker, and do things with his life.
Don’t Get Trapped
My final nugget of advice for my younger self would be simply not to get trapped. Don’t get me wrong, I like my current occupation. But like most people my job isn’t the thing I feel pulled to do, the thing I’d be happy doing for the rest of my life. My weird obsession with all things history and my yearn to write aren’t exactly qualities that would lead a person to becoming a Mortgage Advisor. 9-5 in an office just isn’t what I’d want for my life, as I look back on my deathbed.
I’d leave my younger self with the motivation to travel, to write, and to learn. Who knows, maybe land a writing gig which allows me to live a flexible life, on my terms.
I’d also pass him a number for a decent barbers.