Friday, September 18, 2009

Message from the Past

I've often thought about advice that I would give to my past self, but not long ago Irregular Webcomic asked "What would your younger self say if they could see you now?" That inspired me to think about it.

I think the strongest thing she would say was "I thought you were going to accomplish more." And she might not have the tact yet to avoid saying straight out, "I was better than this in school. What happened to make you so ordinary? How come you've forgotten so much?" She'd surmise "So I guess science wasn't all it's cracked up to be?"

She wouldn't mention the physical shape I'm in, because she had plans to get stronger, and it hadn't occurred to her back then that she wouldn't succeed or that it it would be any effort to maintain fitness. I think she'd compliment me on my hair. It looked terrible back then, and if she hung out for a while I'd probably make her ask "How do you do that?" a few times.

She's disapprove of lots of things, in her naïve idealistic way. She would want to put me back on track. I can remember her helping mentally ill people with resumés and job searches, just because they needed a hand and she was confident in her knowledge. "Let me help you make a plan," she'd say. And she'd know me too well to be fooled by my excuses.

Maybe I'd give her plan a try for a while. But I'm tired of trying to succeed.


Mark Richards said...

"I like how you turned out."

If that be the voice?

It would be a sweet sound for my own ears.

david said...

If my 8-year-old self had visited my 18-year-old self, he would have been depressed by the lack of toys (especially at Christmas and birthdays) and friends playing cool games like British Bulldog, and wouldn't have thought that the presence of university, girls and sex were a very good trade-off at all.

Who's to say that an 18-year-old's perspective on being in your 30s or 40s is any better informed? Or a 40-year-old's perspective on being in your 70s or 80s, for that matter?

Anonymous said...

I too like how you turned out. The process of getting from then to now is exciting, heart breaking, fun, boring, interesting and a whole lot more. It's called life. There is only a small part of who we are and who we will eventually become that we can control. We have to make choices and compromises, but we do so with hope that the decisions we make will improve our lives and those of the ones we love. Ergo, the Serenity Prayer. Aviatrix, you are an amazing person who has used her talents and intellect to accomplish more than most of your faithful readers. You inspire us to bounce back from adversity and by your example to pursue the things we think will make us happy. Thanks for the inspiration.

Geekzilla said...

I think a majority of people would say their lives didn't turn out as they had envisioned in their youth. Chalk it up to naive idealism, situations beyond our control, poor decisions, bad luck, etc.

The mentally healthy thing for us to do is to accept our current situations and not dwell in the past. None of that "would've, could've, should've" stuff. MUCH easier said than done of course.

One of my favorite sayings goes like this: If you've got one foot in the past and one foot in the future, then you're pissing on the present.

And don't forget your post from August 31.

sergei said...

Opportunities to "succeed", or advance towards whatever goal, are sparse but evenly spaced. Success is being trained/prepared to discern and capitalize on it. Or that's how I judge my own existence, anyway. So I'd pretty happy if my younger self comment was "dude....." but as I recall he's a cheeky bastard.

Adrian Taylor said...

I also think about hte same thing. I figure that my former self wouldn't be too pleased that I hadn't achieved more. But I'd like to think my former self would be impressed that I was now so much more chilled out about life that it didn't really matter.

Sarah said...

If my younger self could see me now... well. I think "surprise" would be an understatement. Over time, changes are larger than one would think. Have you ever looked at an old picture of yourself and wondered, "who is that?" And what would we say to each other? I think the alien feeling would be mutual. ( Obligatory xkcd that made me think along these lines too. )

I hope my younger self would be understanding, and impressed with some of what I've done and experienced. Some other things, some less happy parts of my life, notsomuch. These judgments are present in my mind already, so in a way there's nothing my younger self could tell me I don't already know.

It must be hard, working years on a goal that recedes indefinitely.. A goal that in many ways seems out of your control. But I hope Aviatrix' seeming deflation & introspection is temporary, and she regains the joy and bounce in her step, As John said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans".

Frank Van Haste said...

Dear Trix:

Quoth thee: "But I'm tired of trying to succeed."

First, I hope so that you are using your own definition of "succeed" and not responding to anyone else's expectations.

And then, I'd submit that you may not want to wear yourself out pursuing "success", however that is defined. Don't chase the needles...pick out a place on the horizon and steer for it with a steady hand. One day you'll look up and find that the "success" will have happened on it's own.

Finally, know that I am one of many that perceive you as a remarkably successful young lady right now, with a great future waiting to be explored.



Anonymous said...

My younger self would despise my job: she was going to be outstanding in her field.
And she'd be terrified by everything I do in my spare time.

It's not hard to be happier than a teenager.

Anonymous said...

A Successful Life

To laugh oten and much; to earn the appreciation of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

A lot of us would say you have succeeded.

Jim said...

My former self would be impressed that I was still alive. I always figured I'd be dead by thirty and lived my life that way. Better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done (to quote Gibby Hayes).

I think my former self would also be impressed I did end up flying for a living. A bit disappointed that I don't fly heavy iron perhaps. That is until I explain to him how soul crushing self loading freight ops can be...

chephy said...

Interesting quesiton. My younger self would be quite disappointed at some things, and quite sad about some others, but utterly in awe of many, too. I think she would say: "Hey, it's a rough ride at times, and things aren't always turning out as expected, but you're doing things I always wanted to do but always thought were completely out of reach! Rock on, girl!"

Rhonda said...

My younger self probably wouldn't take her nose out of whatever book she was reading long enough to say two words to me.

dpierce said...

Leading an "ordinary" life well is 100x better than leading an extraordinary life poorly.

Curt Sampson said...

My younger self would wonder why the heck I'm devoting my life to things he's not very interested in, and why I stopped doing the things he is interested in.

I'd probably only be able to say, "you'll understand when you get older," because I know from experience exactly what it's going to take for him to learn what I know. :-)

He might understand, since when he was twenty he realized that, though five years earlier he felt that he knew everything, he now knew he didn't. And that happened again at twenty-five, and again at thirty....

I notice we're now getting cool technical terms for word verification. I'm not sure what a "clarbser" is, but I would have a lot of fun saying over the PA, "Cabin crew, torque the clarbser in preparation for descent."