What advice would you give your #teenage self? #inspiration or #warning ?

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Dear Teenage Self,

I wish I could write you a letter of encouragement and empowerment but I know what you’re like. You are a bit of a fatalist, a closet philosopher, an artist, a writer. You tend towards pessimism and have a dystopian view of the future. I hate to tell you, but these views won’t go away and, as you get older, you will either have to buckle under, accept popular opinions or spend lots of time alone.

You love music, too, and, let’s face it, in order to make a living from artistic endeavors, you’ll have to marry money or win the lottery.

Your principled ideals, like you not wanting to work for the war machine, like you not wanting to work for The Man, your socialist viewpoints, all this is going to keep you struggling to pay rent and wishing there was a cure for what you have. Do you bite the bullet, buck up and learn to stock shelves? Or do you get some of those pills they keep telling you to take? The ones that make you forget, not care and stop that stupid creating already!

Wait! Don’t jump off the bridge just yet! There are other people like you out there! You may struggle to find them. They will be hiding all over, stocking shelves, running a cash register, serving drinks. Try to be a beacon of purity and try to encourage these hiders to be true to their nature and not abandon their art! You may even find one to love and one that loves you back.

And as you go from day job to day job, you’ll learn lots of skills that may one day help you. Pay attention to the boring day-to-day accounting ones, please! If you do get a break with your art, your music or your writing, you don’t want to depend on a manager. You need to run your own business.

There may be bouts of overindulgence. Sometimes the only way to cope is with serious amounts of alcohol or drugs. Never accept this as ok, NEVER, and remember there is help out there when you need to stop. Get the help when you need it. Drugs and alcohol will kill you. And you don’t want to die. You want to live! You live to create. So create! Make it the most important thing you do. Never lose sight!

My message to you is a realistic one. Find what you love to do. If you change your direction from music to photography to sport to dancing to step aerobic to novel writing to poetry to painting to cooking to baking to whatever, remember, you are just a multipotentialite and, no, you’re not sick, you’re not weird, you’re not a master of nothing. You are talented, original and way cool. Have a great life and realize your wonderful potential!

P.S. And if you have to stand in front of the PA to watch a band, wear earplugs!