Back in the day when I was taking acting classes (because my life goal is to get attention), I learned one concept that I found really helpful, both on and off stage.
It’s a psychological phenomenon my teacher referred to as a “private audience.” No matter what we’re doing, all of us carry around people in our minds and sort of wonder what they might think of what we’re doing. Maybe you’re thinking of trying to make a parent proud, or how to impress a crush. Maybe some abuser from your past remains in your head, judging all your actions as inadequate, etc.
So, what would yesterday us say about today us? Let’s find out.
1. California dreamin’
16 year old me would be p**sed I still lived in California instead of moving back to Texas as planned.
But I’ve fallen in love with it.
2. I’m still there
Like at 35 I’m still struggling with the concept of home ownership and a long term career (I have both, just still can’t wrap my brain around it).
I am living the 16 yo’s life though, own every game console (except PS5, f**k scalpers), and more Gundams than could have imagined.
3. Pretty impressive
16 year old me would be impressed with my hot wife, great kids who would have much in common with him, being a homeowner of a really nice house, cool cars, and killer gaming PCs (I was a huge computer nerd in high school).
S**t, my whole house is automated which would have blown his/my mind.
4. It all changes fast
He’d be surprised with how quickly life goes from easy to hard. Both parents die in our 20s, the last living grandparent develops dementia at 100 years old whom we become POA for.
It’s easy to compare grass is greener. You’ll feel isolated because you don’t relate to people in your 30s or even older generations in the workplace.
The salary is good though, not to mention the core group of friends you have always answer the phone when you call.
5. Don’t give up hope
16 year old me was a foster kid in a girl’s home who wanted to die.
She wouldn’t even believe that I finally made it to Hollywood, became an artist and entertainer on her own terms and now owns her own victorian home.
I sure am glad those suicide attempts didn’t work.
6. OMG so awesome!
16 year-old me would be shocked at how well I am doing.
At 16 years old I had just quit doing drugs after failing the ninth grade for the second time. I am now a DBA and make six figures.
Also, 16 year-old me would be like “Did you have s**? Yes?! OMG so awesome!”
There really is a benefit to coming from low expectations.
7. Not a doctor (shh!)
“So…not a doctor huh?”
“No, but you have a masters and you work as a therapist helping people who really need it.”
“But not a doctor.”
“Are you thinking amount doing a PhD at least?”
“Kinda, there’s a limited about of good that would do us, outside of the title, and importantly you like what you do”
“But the title is awesome!”
8. Nailed it
Still overweight, that sucks. Great career though, so that’s awe…
Wait… you married HER?!?!?! HOW?!?!? DUDE THAT’S AWESOME!!!!! SHE WOULDN’T EVEN GIVE ME THE TIME OF DAY!
9. Pretty grim
Like back then, I don’t value new experiences much because I’m not interested in most things or people, have no innate curiosity or desire to learn things and am affected deeply by negative events while getting nothing out of positive ones.
At most, after learning about my disappointing experiences with therapy and medication, I reckon my 16y/o self would just be sad that this is incurable, and probably much more bitter than I currently am that I have to put a crazy amount of effort into getting even half as much joy out of life as the average person.
I miss being blissfully ignorant about these things. Back then I was so much better at ignoring the external pressure to be someone I’m not because it didn’t even register to me that I was that abnormal. It’s getting better now, but it’s something I’ll have to make a conscious effort to fight for years to come.
10. Blinded by science
My 16 year old self would be devastated that both my parents and all my grandparents have passed away by the time I’m 32.
She would also be very surprised that I’m not working in marine biology or doing science of any kind as a career.
11. No mountain high enough
16 year old me would be very impressed!
Stopped self-harming, left our emotionally-damaging hometown & now live in a gorgeous state, hiking mountains, traveling the world independently (pre-pandemic), rescued the sweetest dog ever, and still very close friends with a lot of my high-school friends that weren’t a**holes.
She would look at me and say “wow I truly made it”.
12. Reach for the stars
Astronomer here! I was already obsessed with the idea of being a radio astronomer when I was that age, so pretty sure she’d be over the moon ecstatic. 🙂
I actually think about 16 year old me a lot on days when research feels hard or I’m less motivated about a specific task.
It seems like such a minor thing to push through once you remember the passion you had as a teenager, and while a lot of astronomy is about chasing the next position it really makes me appreciate where I am now on the day to day level. Not sure that makes sense.
13. I’m livin’ my life
He would ask what happened to our hair and slim toned physique, then I’d explain that in adult life you eat what you want and don’t care about your hair so much so deal with it
14. But why?
I am happy that 24 yo you is financially successful and managed to land a good career and have a girlfriend you like…
But why did you stop going to the gym, why do you take all those antidepressants / pills to sleep and why do you smoke weed?
15. Mostly about phones
Well, for a start he’d be all: “You’re looking at a, whatchacallit, a ‘website’, on your telephone?”
Then he’d be happy that I was happily married with three awesome kids. Maybe a bit sad I don’t have a dog.
I guess if 16 year old me showed up he’d probably mostly just scream and be confused.
But what would your former self say?
Tell us in the comments.