The Guardian has a nice article where people write letters to their 16-year-old selves to give advice and share life lessons, among them Stephen King, Gene Hackman, Gillian Anderson, John Waters, and Alan Cumming. So I thought I’d give it a try.
Dear 16-year-old self,
First of all stop masturbating and listen to me for one goddamn minute.
I’ll keep this short and sweet so you can get back to Rush’s 2112.
In my 47 years on this earth, I have learned after much trial and error that there are only two skills necessary to have functional relationships with other human beings:
1. An ability to say that you are sorry and to mean it without any excuses, allowances, obfuscations, justifications, alibis, or quid-pro-quos. Okay, you screwed up. Everyone does. Admit it, move on, and do better next time.
2. An ability to say to someone else that they said or did something that hurt you. Sounds simple? Here’s the trick: you have to say it clearly and directly (no ‘acting hurt’ until they ask you what’s wrong) and you have to do so in a way that gives the other person a genuine opportunity to say they are sorry. If and when they do say it, accept it and move on. And if they don’t, move on anyway. No resentments; they’re poison.
That’s it, really. Learn these two skills and you will avoid a mountain of bullshit and lead an all-around happier and more productive life, as will the people around you.
I would tell you to avoid the sauce but I know it would do no good. You’ll learn that lesson soon enough on your own.
Oh, and enjoy that luxurious head of hair.