Advice to My 16-Year Old Self

Jen, a reader that I don’t know, challenged me for the 2015 Edition of What Shall I Write About?, with a request to write a letter of advice to my 16-year old self.

Tough, but interesting. Here we go.

Dear Dan,

Today, you are sixteen years old. Your dad and stepmom are going to forget your birthday today, so be prepared for that. Don’t sweat it. As things unfold, you’ll find that in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing to be concerned with.

Life has a lot in store for you. I’m writing you today from the grand old age of 42, and it’s been a hell of a ride. It ain’t all sunshine and roses, to be sure, but you’re going to have moments of absolute amazement that are going to make it all worthwhile.

The moment you win your first bike race. The day you graduate college. The day you hold your first son for the first time.

You’re going to walk the Earth, and you’re going to see so much more than you already have.

But it could be even better. You just need to do a few things:

  1. Get your self-discipline nailed down. This is going to require formal ADD treatment, and yes, you have it. Your drug of choice will be Adderall time-release. It will help you more than you know.
  2. Understand that after a certain point, it’s not enough to be smarter than the people around you. The value of an idea is fucking zero. Do the work.
  3. Learn money management. Your role models in this suck hard. Pay your fucking bills on time, don’t apply for credit cards while in college, and for god’s sake, credit should only be used for cars and houses. Live this. Religiously.
  4. Be cool. You don’t need to win people over. Just be yourself. Embrace that you’re a nerd (in about 15 years being a nerd will be cool), embrace that you’re different. Just be you, man.
  5. Therapy. You need it. You don’t know it now, but you do. The shit you’ve suffered in the last fifteen years is mostly a blank space in your memory — why do you think you remember so little before the age of ten?

I know this is a lot to throw at you, Dan. It’s tough being sixteen, and even now I remember the discomfort of being that age. What I’m trying to do with this letter is to smooth that road for you. I’m confident in your ability to do it. Go forth and kick ass.


P.S.: If you’re having issues with #3 above, the Mega Millions lottery jackpot on 27 March 2012 will be $363 million, and the winning numbers for that day will be: 9-19-34-44-51 with a Mega Ball of 24. Go get it, kid.

P.P.S.: Save as much money as you can — skip spending money on dumb shit like comic books, etc., and in 1996, start loading up on stock in Apple Computers (AAPL). Sounds nuts, but you have to trust me on this. In 2015, it’s the biggest company in the world. No shit. Not kidding.

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