A friend of mine said the other day that he wished he could go back in time so he could beat up the jerk that he used to be.
I’m pretty sure his old self never wanted to go into the future to beat up his current self, so who’s the jerk, really? But I digress.
It got me to thinking, what would I tell my high school self if I could go back 30 years and meet that clueless lump of clay.
Gosh, I can think of so many things I’d tell that kid. Eat less junk food. Smile more. Brush your teeth three times a day or they’ll abandon you later in life. Stay in school. Listen to your mother. Slow down when driving. Quit wasting so much time.
But kids don’t want to hear that stuff. I would not have listened. For all I know, my future self was there telling me those things and I just wasn’t paying attention. Maybe I would have listened more if someone was telling me the kinds of things I really wanted to know. Like how to get girls.
I don’t know about all guys, but I think most teenage guys are pretty well centered on one thing, and that’s how to get girls. Some guys just seemed to know how to do it. Maybe others read up on it or watched and learned. I was too frightened to even open my eyes.
I didn’t feel attractive enough. I had no confidence. I had no courage. I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to look foolish, and I was afraid to disappoint my parents. I was stuck so far in Oz that mental roadblocks coalesced into the inability to take action. Doing nothing was the safest thing I could do.
I knew what confidence was. I was extremely — nay; overly — confident in some areas. Still am. If you don’t think you’re good at what you do, nobody else is going to think so, either. What I needed was for my future self to take that confidence dial and tune me up a little bit.
In my youth, I was a bit of a fast burner. I had a career trajectory in place by the time I was 17. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew the direction to get there. Well, “a” direction, anyway. I was way too busy going places; I didn’t have time for girls, I often told myself convincingly.
In this sense, “girls” is a metaphor. I’m really talking about living. Not breathing in and out living. Not going through the motions living. Real, exhilarating, breathtaking, jump-out-of-an-airplane living.
Oh, I did some neat things as a teen. I achieved some lofty goals. I’m sure the grown-ups in my life were pleased, maybe even impressed. They were complimentary and supportive. But in all that hurry to get where I was going, I forgot to be a kid.
That’s what I would tell my old self if I could. You can venture off the path you’re on and still find your way home.
Take yourself a little less seriously over here and be a bit more aggressive over there. Quit wasting time thinking you aren’t handsome enough or tall enough or likable enough. Here’s a little secret: Across town, right now, there’s a girl your age who thinks she isn’t pretty enough or good enough for you. The two of you ought to get together. Maybe you won’t make eye contact, but you can stare at the floor together.
If you get knocked down, pick yourself back up, buddy; brush off the dust and try again. The worst thing that can happen trying is about the same as the best thing that can happen not trying.
Courage. Confidence. A touch of humility. Persistence. Determination. Self discipline. A sense of humor. And the understanding that there is no man better than you and no woman who is out of your league. These are the characteristics that will help you get the girl. And if it doesn’t work out and you end up spending your evening alone at home? Well, that’s what you were doing anyway.
(c) Copyright 2012 by David Porter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. All rights reserved. Courage and confidence, huh? I’d like to get me some of that.