First, let me say that everything will be fine. You will be happy … a wonderful family and a successful career, albeit in a small pond.
But I don’t mean to sound a tad disappointed with you, but you could have written. I say that because I just watched a wonderful YouTube video (to which you will say “Huh? What’s a video? What’s YouTube?”) that applies to this conversation between young and old me. Stick around, kid, you’ll like videos and YouTube.
“A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition” is a film created by Jeremiah McDonald, who updated a VHS tape in which he talks to his 12-year-old self, who at that earlier age was talking to his future self.
I didn’t think you did. But this video is absolutely brilliant and hilarious. It was like taking a time machine back and forth in this guy’s life.
I will stop here patiently while you watch this 3 minute, 47-second video. You will see what I mean. Go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFGAQrEUaeU
Done? There have been answers and parodies to this video, which went viral within hours.
So I admit it, I’m jealous. I didn’t expect you to make a video. That technology had not been invented by then. But the guy who made this video became a filmmaker, a brilliant one it appears. You became a writer/personal historian. You could have left some letter to your future you, aka me.
As used to be said by adults when you were a little kid, “What am I, chopped liver?”
So here’s what I say to you 12-year-old me, “Don’t you have any questions for me?” Let’s pretend like you did and this is my nearly 48th anniversary response to 12-year-old me.
In the summer when I turned 12 in 1964, you/me/I was about to enter West Ladue Junior High School in suburban St. Louis. For my friend Jean Passanante I must interrupt to say, “East is least and West is best,” although now she will bring up that pesky issue that West closed down but East did not. Picky. Picky.
At West Ladue, a guidance counselor actually told me/you, “You will never be a brain surgeon.”
No wonder, Sue, you/we were lacking in self-esteem. My esteem then was based on your – my – sense of humor. It was self-deprecating.
Funny thing about life: humor still gives you/me self-esteem, but I am much more confident as an adult. Back at West Ladue, I was criticized for the number of Villager outfits I had or did not have. No wonder I had that self-esteem problem.
In your adult life, Sue, there will be ups and downs. Ups include family, despite the loss of oldest son Matt to leukemia. We speak to each other and love each other. In fact, I was once accused of coming from a “functional family,” something that others at the table said they did not have.
It’s true. I/you/we had no doubt in my/our life that (all those pronouns) was loved unconditionally.
As far as career, this personal history thing is really great stuff. I feel such a connection to those I interview and preserve stories of individuals, families, businesses, organizations and even the community.
Please stop rolling your eyes, Sue. That is uncalled for. Still around, you’ll like it when you in your 50s, or even your 40s. You don’t have to wait THAT long.
And of course there were downs – but the point is not whether you have them but how you deal with them.
My reports from the future also include these bits of advice:
- Be nice to other people.
- Family and friends are most important.
- Change is good. Nothing stays the same – we don’t stay in junior high forever. Heck, junior high even became middle school in most places.
- Embrace technology,
- Stick to your principles and values.
- Be healthy.
- Try not to care so much about what other people think. They are as self-conscious as you and are too busy worrying about what you think of them.
- Be happy (you are in charge of your own happiness; no one can make you happy).
And here is a link to an interview with the filmmaker on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0B3RZs_sRM