5 Important Things I Wish Someone Had Told Teenage Me
Five things I wish my father would’ve told me...
Having a good sense of humor is better than having an expensive house, car, or watch. Having one makes people want to hang out with you, the other makes you look like a jerk. Buying stuff really doesn’t make you happy anyway.
Some people will consider you weird, and that’s okay (as long as you’re not harming others). You might have some strange hobbies, like learning Klingon, or being obsessive about hygiene, or knowing the words to every Kanye West song, or competing in air guitar contests, or saving coupons, or choreographing elaborate dance routines that will never be performed in public, or whatever. If you’re not into anything strange, you’re missing out. Don’t cave into pressure to conform to some abstract notion of normality.
You are annoying, and you should try to be less annoying. You don’t necessarily realize it, but sometimes you annoy other people. That’s normal, but it’s not really okay. Maybe you leave dirty dishes/coffee cups/beer mugs lying around. Maybe you play music that others can hear, but don’t want to. Maybe you talk too loudly in public. Maybe you like the sound of your own voice too much. Maybe you’re unnecessarily (and perhaps unwittingly) rude to people. Maybe you get in people’s way when walking down the street. Maybe you interrupt people too much. Figure out what you’re doing that annoys others and just stop doing it. People will be nicer to you.
Sex and love are not the mysteries they seem when you’re young. Most (but not all) people want sex and love in their lives. You will meet a lot of people who want one or both with you. To discover who those people are, you need to a) talk to them, b) listen to them and c) be aware of their body language. Don’t be a creep, though. Be nice and polite, and reasonably open. Smile. Laugh. Suggest hanging out. Tell them you like them if it seems appropriate. Don’t be creepy. See how they respond. They will want to be friends, lovers, casual sex partners, or none of the above. Practice guessing which. You’ll learn to figure it out pretty fast. Whichever it is, don’t try to change their mind; it probably won’t work, and you’ll probably annoy them if you try. If they equivocate, back away, or make excuses, then the chances are they’re not interested. Leave them be. Make sure you have explicit and enthusiastic consent before trying to have sex with anyone.
You will meet a lot of really great, interesting people in life. Don’t be disappointed when they do stupid things. Everyone does. We all do stupid things. Many of us, at some point in our lives, get drunk and do stuff we regret. Many of us suffer from depression or anger or anxiety at some point, and we will act strangely when we do. Bad stuff will happen to all of us, and when it happens to your friend, colleague, or neighbor you might not realize it. They might do annoying or weird or stupid things around you. Don’t be surprised. Hold on to the people that you have a connection with and stick with them even when they do stupid things. But don’t put up with abusive or toxic friendships or relationships. There are limits.