Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog, Karen! This topic was so much fun to tackle – I feel like there’s no end to the imaginary conversation I could have with my younger self. But lucky for your readers I did manage to end it in a reasonable amount of time (I hope.)
Paula, it’s your future self here. I know, it’s hard to believe you made it to 41. It must seem impossibly old – hell, your mom is 43!
Hey - put down that joint, this is important. This isn’t a drug trip; I’m really going to give you some advice here. You might want to get a pen and paper.
Speaking of pen and paper, guess what you do for a living now? You’re a writer. You edit a lifestyle website and write screenplays and books…what? Oh, websites are these things on the Internet and…what? Oh, the Internet is this other world that lives inside computers. You’ll start hearing about it in another ten years. Yes, good idea. Put out that joint.
And can you turn the music down? Yeah I still love the Ramones – geez I’ll never get THAT old – no, they don’t tour anymore. No, they didn’t break up. Let’s talk about that another time.
I have to say, you’re doing a pretty good job so far. You’re back on track in school (whew, math was a squeaker last year!) and you’ve decided to stop with the joint custody and tell Mom and Dad it’s killing you. Well done! I know you don’t think their divorce has had any affect, but you might want to look into some therapy anyway. Just trust me on this – you have issues. They all come to a head after 9/11 when you have a bit of a nervous breakdown and…wait, don’t write down 9/11.
Anyway, I thought I would save you a bit of time in life with this useful tip: embrace everything you’re resisting. Sometimes you can tell if something’s really important to you by the speed at which you’re walking away from it.
Like writing. I know it’s supposed to be Ellen’s thing, but guess what – you can both be writers! Shocking, I know. So don’t get Ellen to write your final English Lit creative writing assignment. Yes, it is a funny story later on, as you both predicted, but you’re ripping yourself off. You have a lot to say, even now, and it is important to express yourself.
Some other time savers: Don’t bother thinking you’re going to drop out of University. Dad and Val will talk you out of it, and you end up graduating with honors, which, believe it or not, is a great thing. It turns out it actually is a better plan for you to get an education rather than be a full time waitress.
And don’t listen to other people’s opinions about your art. If you like it, it’s great. Other people don’t know what you’re trying to say. Other people are filled with ideas that are not generated by you. You know what you’re doing. You don’t need praise or criticism to keep creating.
That crazy out-of-control energy you feel in your veins right now doesn’t last forever by the way. It gets replaced by other things, like confidence and experience, which probably sound boring now, but you’ll appreciate them as they come.
If you possibly can slow down a little bit each day to listen to your instincts, that really pays off. It took me until last year to learn that, and I wish I’d started earlier.
I’m really proud of you, you know. You have your head in the right place. You’re smart, funny, interesting, you visit your grandparents a lot. Slow down on the dopey weed though, would you? Your short-term memory sucks now.
Gabba Gabba Hey!
Your 41 year old self, Paula