What I’d Tell 18-Year-Old Me

I saw this hashtag on Twitter and, like so many hashtags, I couldn’t resist laughing at it first. It’s such a cliche so I had to needle it a bit. Then I started writing a serious version. That cracked something in me. I had to start talking. Once I started I could not stop. Rather than flood my feed, I’m coming here to write. So here goes.

If you are reading this in August of 2002, you are me at age 18. I’m you from a vantage point of 13 years on. I’m a good distance removed now. Headed sadly straight for middle age. I’ll tell you right now you will struggle hard with that. It’s going to be a hard ride. But you knew that. Turning 13 traumatized us after all.

I’m writing to you in the hopes you understand several very important, at times painful truths. These are things you will wish others had told you, sign posts along the way. I’m not writing to tell you what to avoid, for I feel every hardship made us better. I’m trying to ease the journey though.

The most important thing I can tell you is this: Things are getting good now. They will keep getting better. This is very important for you to know as you go through the next twelve months. I don’t want to spoil things but there are very big things awaiting you in the next year. I’m jealous of you for getting to go through them. Your life will be wonderful.

I have to be honest with you though. You will not get every goal. There are some important things you will never do. It breaks my heart to tell you some of our dreams are destined to go unfulfilled. The dreams that will go unfulfilled I’d rather not say because trying for them will be so very important. I must tell you this though: one thing you think is your destiny is not.* You will never achieve it even though you think it’s a guarantee. That hurts and I can’t express the pain it gives me to tell you that.

You’ve got to know how very important it is to fight though. Yes, you’re doomed in many ways. But you aren’t going to get nowhere. You’re going to wind up in unexpected places doing things that fulfill you. They won’t be the ones you expect but they will be things that you enjoy. You will be happy.

Don’t ever stop trying. Never stop dreaming of being more. Take every chance you get and cherish it. There are things in your life ahead you will never imagine were possible. There are people you are going to meet, opportunities you won’t expect. You MUST know this. There will be things you wish are possible at 18 that will be normal at 31.

No, you won’t truly be at peace with yourself. That’s not your place in this world. It’s a lie to think that. You’re never going to be over Asperger Syndrome. You won’t conquer it. You’ll do better but this is an eternal war for you. Get ready for that. It will always be there.

But you CAN help people. through your discomfort and fighting those issues, you will do great things. There will be people who will need to hear your struggle. Because you refuse to do so in silence, others will hear you. You will reach people and they will be stronger because they know they are not alone and they can indeed do well on this planet.

Know this: when you make peace with the absence of peace in your soul, only then will you achieve what you were called to do in this world.  You were meant to fight. In fighting you will find purpose. And that’s what will make you great.

*Since this is hypothetical, I can explain that said goal is becoming a full time reporter. It wasn’t to be.

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