Things I Would Do Differently If I Were A Teenager Again
1. Not listen to so much Cat Power
I love you Cat Power, I really do. Even if your music is sold at Starbucks now and you quit doing blow and getting wasted on stage, I still have so much love for you. But I had no business listening to you when I was a teenager. Your music should’ve been rated R and required an ID to purchase it because my little brain just wasn’t ready to hear that kind of grief. I spent way too much time on my bedroom floor listening to The Covers Record, wondering if anyone would ever love me. Have any of you even heard that album? It makes Kid A look like an uplifting record. I should’ve just stuck to the BS emo that was Rilo Kiley’s music. “And sandstorms creeping up Coldwater Canyon… our friends were standing there with their pets just talking sh*t.” Uh huh.
2. Spend less to no money on acne products
Hey Ryan! You can stop getting painful weekly extractions, buddy. Your skin will clear up around sophomore year of college and you’ll be good! Just let nature and your overactive sebaceous glands take their course.
3. Be less of a dick to my parents
I cringe when I think about how awful I was to my parents. How did they survive my cruelty? Here I was, the perfect little angel for 13 years, and then all of a sudden I’m living la vida Damien from The Omen. I can just picture my mom Black Swanning me and being like “Where did my sweet little boy go?” and me screaming back with venom in my eyes, “HE’S GONE!” I take some solace though in knowing that everyone goes through this at some point in their adolescence. We become complete d-bags who are convinced our parents are trying to ruin our lives and then we come out of it with our tails between our legs. “Mom? I’m obsessed with you. Please call me back!”
4. Care less about school
I went to a magnet high school for smart kids and worked my ass off for four years, only to graduate with a cumulative 3.2 GPA. And the irony of it all is that I only applied to one college, San Francisco State University, which anyone can get into. They ask you if you want to attend their school, and you just blink once for yes and twice for no. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have busted my ass over composing those King Lear reading logs for Honors English. I also wouldn’t have spent every Saturday afternoon of my junior year prepping for the SAT’s, SAT II’s, and ACT’s. Because guess what? None of it matters! The only things I learned in high school that are still applicable to my life today is knowing how to use a vaporizer and not mix muscle relaxers with a bottle of champagne.
5. Not be in such a rush to grow up
When I look back at my tempestuous time as a teenager, I remember always feeling so ready to move on. I just wanted to move away from my tiny beach town to a big city and START MY LIFE. But, like Joni Mitchell once crooned, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. I grew up in a magical place and had a wonderful high school experience. And what you don’t realize is that once its over, your life will NEVER be like that again. It will never be so protected and safe. It will never be so free of any consequences. You screw up a lot but nothing ever sticks. After all, you’re a teenager. It’s your job to be a totally useless psycho. So don’t be in such a hurry to leave it all behind. Soak it up, go cray cray, drink the damn Kool-Aid. It will go down a lot smoother than the glass of wine you’ll have to drink before bed every night in your 20s.
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Forget answering: my salary is ________. This is about all the little things that you think are your preferences but were actually given to you like gifts.
7. Visiting the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum.
Writing is all about process. Learning how you write, or how you create, is just as important as what you’re actually writing about. Here are several things I’ve learned since starting to write my first book, that will help you embrace the creative writing process (or any creative endeavor), and share your story with the world.
Bonus points if you actually use different voices/accents for the different people in the imaginary conversation. That is a prestigious level of shower insanity.