You’ll probably never read this.
I know I’ve been weirdly reluctant to approach my own parents for knowledge, so I doubt you’re so eager to listen to me that you’d search for more online.
But if you’re here – sentimentally, accidentally, looking (correctly) for blackmail material – we may as well chat.
As it stands, I’m probably about your age now, or at least close enough to be parallel. As terrifying as that might be, I’m a person now. Like, a real person. A random human who exists in the world. I’m a not especially mature twenty-something. Hi, hey, how you doing. In a vacuum, we’d be friends. Or not, Jesus – that would be scary.
I barely think of my parents as people. It’s a projection of anxiety that I’d write you a letter like this, practically begging you to hold some image of me as a person. I barely think about the past. I doubt you will either. But if you can retain a sliver of attention for me, I’d be grateful.
As far as life goes, I’d tell you to do the important things I forget. Meditate, think bigger, call people on the phone. These are things I don’t do enough, so this may sound hypocritical. But when I say things are for your own good, I don’t mean it’s a moralistic burden: I mean, sincerely, that it makes you happier. That it’s a “woo-hoo” path to joy and a better self and love and happiness.
That’s it. A good life is easy on paper but hard in practice. That’s life in a nutshell. Actually doing something is infinitely more important than just thinking of it. Get it done. Be happy. Be easy on yourself. You’re not uniquely bad.
But seriously: actually do those good, simple things. Walk, meditate, talk about mental health and get help as needed, eat right and generally be mindful that you can change and adapt. Don’t take things for granted.
If I hold you to these standards more than I hold them to myself, it’s because it’s easier to love someone else than it is to love yourself. Even if you can only get a fraction of use from the things I’ve learned, those gains are precious to me.
So, what can the past teach the future?
Not that much, I’m afraid. In 2015 – which, by the way, exists, moment to moment, as the absolute and immediate cutting-edge present – we like to imagine we’ve more or less transcended the past. We talk a lot about millennials (what we call my generation, for some reason) as the most obnoxious, garbage-minded careless youth until, most likely, you all come out. I don’t know how history will label our generation or time, but know amidst those generalities, the specifics felt as immediate and true as your time feels to you. We’re not four or five cliches you vaguely remember; we’re the absolute immediate world, as varied and sincere as yours is.
But, of course, we’ll be left to the past. You’ll become the present and your life in its small ups and downs – the same sort I felt completely, from friends and crushes to rivalries and homework – will become your world. They’ll be foreign to me. You’ll grow through them, moving forward as you do. And you should. You really, really should.
But I hope a part of you takes a moment now and then to look back.