It is hard to look back and see how it would be possible before you are 18 for you to be able to take any of my advice. Life has been messy, very messy for you up to this point, and even looking back I can’t see any avenues for escape from the family that surrounds you. That is not the case now.
We do live with the hand we are dealt. I heard something quite some time ago, it was a parent talking their child, it went something like this – I know I helped mess you up and I am sorry, but now it is down to you to fix it. It is the same for you. Blaming has limited, if any, value. So here goes with my letter to my 18 year old self.
You come from a fairly long line of fucked up people who use alcohol to make themselves feel better. Quite a few of them are alcoholics, and there is at least one of them now sober in Alcoholics Anonymous – but of course we don’t talk about that.
I understand that drinking makes you feel better, it takes away the fear, and you feel like you fit in. But look already at the results – blackouts, trouble with the police, being unreliable, and always hunting for money to pay for drink.
You are one of the 10% of the population that can’t drink safely. My next suggestion will help with some of the problems that drink appears to help with.
Go to Counselling Now
Counselling is not yet in vogue, so it might be hard to find a trained therapist in Glasgow. Later in life I needed a therapist anyway, so you might as well start dealing with that now, it is fresh in your mind at this moment.
It will go against the grain and the ego of your society to go and talk with someone, to open up, to discover your feelings. It will be worth it and will save a lot of pain over the longer term.
Leave Home to Work or Study
I know your options seem limited right now. It is amazing how quickly that can change. It would be a good idea to leave home, leave Glasgow, leave Scotland, eventually you will anyway.
I suggest getting into college somewhere and study something you are interested in. It doesn’t mean you will work in that area, you will likely change career several times, I have. When you get into college – finish whatever you sign up for. I know people will annoy you, lecturers will drive you nuts, the work may seem too much – put all that to the side and concentrate on sticking with it.
Sticking with things is a great skill to learn, one you will have to face in the future. Finishing some things is very important; this will be one of the important ones.
Fear is Normal
It is okay to be frightened. It is not okay for that fear to control you. At eighteen being frightened in your situation is fairly normal. I refer again to the therapist above. Types of fear are normal and standard, a background feeling of fear is not – do something about this.
Take Care of Your Friends
You are a good looking young guy and in general people like you. I know you don’t feel this, but again get a therapist and talk about this area.
Take care of your friends, keep in contact, trust them slowly, but trust. I know trust is hard for you, but experiment, most people are trustworthy. Forgive your friends when they make mistakes; forgiveness is a great skill to learn at a young age.
Pick a girlfriend based on personality and similar interests. It is much better to take time getting to know someone than having first dates every Friday and jumping into bed for one night stands. Sex with someone you like, maybe love, is more satisfying, fun, and pleasurable. I am not suggesting you settle down or get married, just slow down, time with one person you care for, you like, and who has similar interest is more fulfilling.
Not Feeling Good Enough
This one may stay with you for the rest of your life. It is fairly common; many people do not feel good enough. This is one area where just doing what has to be done and doing the right thing by using your brain is the best course to follow. Often feelings are just plain wrong.
The best advice I can offer here is as above – go to counselling.
Look at how people act not what they say
Too many people talk one thing and act another. This is easy to spot once you are aware of it. I have found people enjoyable company only to find out later they talk negatively about me – that’s life. Just be aware.
Pick Your Battles
Not everything is worth fighting for.
If someone cuts you up in the car, big deal, keep breathing and relax – many daily confrontations are not worth the energy. If you fight every dick that comes across your path, you will be fighting all the time – and it is likely people might just be viewing you as a dick also.
Brush Your Teeth
Look after yourself. That is what this section is all about develop good habits and routines. Brush your teeth, shower; just get healthy systems in place. Eat well and not too much.
As well as keeping your body fit for life, exercise keeps your brain working better. Develop a routine, again.
Being Alone is Okay
Being alone is fine, get used to your own company. You are fine and others do like you, understand it is helpful if you also like yourself.
Enjoy the silence, later in life you might wish for more of it.
Unless your life is threatened avoid violence. You grew up in a violent society, but not many places are like that. Once you start to travel you will see that this confrontation that leads to violence is rare.
Broken Hearts Mend
Let your heart be broken, it is the only way to live.
People make mistakes; some of those mistake will hurt severely. Time does mend. Being open to the world means you will get hurt, it is okay, you will survive and lead a fuller life as the result.
Money is Important
Find a way to earn money that does not cause your soul damage.
Being very good at something requires practice, takes time and is usually worth the effort. Even knowing how to learn is a skill that you can use again and again.
That said, money is not the root to happiness – the lack of can create unhappiness – find the middle ground.
Learn Meditation and Stop Worrying
Worry is bringing tomorrows imagined problems into today. It is a distraction from living. Meditation can help, it can let you see the thoughts that come back constantly to mind.
One of the problems with writing to my 18 year old self is that right now I have people in my life that I would never want to lose. Imagine something different happened, I would likely not be where I am right now, and where I am is generally great.
I found writing this harder than I thought it would be. I expected just to sit and type away; instead this post was written over the space of a couple of week – many incidents from my past have been brought to mind.
I look back and wonder if life could really have been any different – it is almost as if I was programmed until I was able to start seeing some things.