Let’s explore this age old question.
First thing I’d do is take the little snot’s lunch money.
Then again, I was on free lunch most of the time, or I just ate something out of the vending machine. Surge and Funyuns can’t be beat! Sometimes I had a few bucks on me from mowing lawns.
There was my first job, bagging groceries at Winn Dixie. My grocery store paycheck went to CDs or rock T-shirts from the flea market. It was money well spent, so I thought.
Back then, we listened to music on “compact discs” read by a laser inside a CD player. It was all very technical, and no one understood it. We just marveled at the technology and the ability to skip songs.
New CDs ran from about $15 – $20 each, which was quite an investment at the time. I often scoured local flea markets or independent music stores for used ones, always on the hunt.
Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, the writing prompt.
I’d enjoy nothing more than to share extensive knowledge and wisdom with my inquisitive ’90s self. Unfortunately, I don’t think the younger me would listen. I was a headstrong, stubborn child, a real outlaw. Therefore, I made a lot of stupid mistakes.
We get lots of do-overs in life, and I’ll always be grateful for the proverbial clean slate. Even today, it comes in handy. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it.
If we refuse to learn, then we’re condemned to live as congressional representatives or senators for the rest of our days. Ever wonder why some of them are so old?
Political zingers aside, I’d first win myself over with a trip to the local arcade followed by pizza. That dweeb would be putty in my hands.
I could point out the bad haircut and lack of fashion sense of the fifteen-year-old slacker before me, the typical grunge era mop-top parted down the middle and shaved underneath.
I could critique the tattered band shirts and blue jeans worn every day. How do you expect to get a girlfriend dressed like that?
I could offer cautious warnings, ominous predictions, and/or winning lottery numbers.
None of this, however, would necessarily make me a better person. For that, I’d need to get serious.
Like many young people, I assumed all my dreams and aspirations would materialize based on my desire to achieve them alone. Of all my many creative pursuits, I was aimless in their execution.
I’d tell myself to focus on one thing and pursue that harder than the rest. That one thing could very well lead to other things. Going to college or a trade school or joining the circus after high school is all fine and well, but you need a real plan.
Lots of people understand this at an early age. I sure didn’t. Fulfilling dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may seem as a child, requires hard work. There is simply no other way around it.
After my career pep talk, I’d launch into some personal advice, with hopes that I wouldn’t carry so many hangups with me into adulthood.
“Take chances with your life. Think big!”
When pressed for specifics, I’d say to study harder, to truly make something of yourself. Don’t be afraid to try new things, meet new people, and explore the world while you’re young.
Stop being so hard on yourself. Stop sabotaging relationships with friends and family. Treat your parents with love and respect. Tell that special someone how you feel. Throw caution to the wind. YOLO!
By the time we got around to discussing girls, I’d have to see how much time we had left.
I’d tell myself to not be so afraid of everything, to find a path and stick to it. Of course, if I really wanted to make the effort, I’d map out every potential path before me with varying degrees of success or failure. But that’d be too much work.
Fast forward decades later, my life turned out much differently than imagined. The world has also changed a lot since then. I am happy and grateful for so many things, but every now and then, my temperamental teenage ways rise to the surface in moments of awkwardness and confusion. It’s just part of who I am.