Dear Young Person, I care about you. I realize that that might seem like an odd statement. After all, I hardly know you. But I bet I can tell you a few things about yourself…
Of course, I recognize that you are unique and distinctive, but I can also see just how much we actually have in common. Much more than you realize.
I feel like we’re connected, you and I. By our shared experiences that straddle time. The ones that I’ve accumulated thus far. The ones that you’re yet to have. The adventures (and misadventures) that lie ahead for you are not too dissimilar to the ones that form part of the previous chapter of my life.
You remind me so much of myself, in so many ways. That feeling of familiarity and sense of sameness is reinforced every time I meet you.
And I do love meeting you.
You call to mind a time when I viewed the world as being alive with nothing but wonderful possibility. When everyone and everything represented promise and surprise. Those moments of awe, wonder and euphoria that I will never experience in quite the same way again.
Like a first kiss.
Or first anything for that matter.
It’s the newness that makes it so special. You can build upon it, but it will always be memorable and distinguishable from later experiences.
I especially enjoy our encounters because you help keep my hopefulness buoyant with your enthusiasm and sheer potential. You, young person, help to keep my cynicism at a healthily moderate level. At a time when the state of the world has me feeling deeply concerned (read horrified), you come along like a breath of fresh air – bringing with you the potential first gusts of the winds of change.
What will you contribute to the world I wonder?
I see you, raring to go at the starting block of your adult life. With big ideas. Ready to make your mark. Claim your place.
I had similar aspirations when I was your age.
I threw myself into the human race, pursuing all the commonly prescribed paths to happiness and fulfillment. I grasped at all the things that symbolized success and achievement. I celebrated my freedom to choose. And the choices seemed limitless.
I exercised what I thought was free will.
I thought I was supremely in control of my life.
I felt empowered and autonomous.
But it was all…
(pause for effect)
Just an illusion.
Oh, and what a splendid deception it was too! So clever that it even had me colluding in my own blindness.
I can see clearly now.
I’m grateful that the veil has been lifted.
I’ve discovered that this emancipation comes with a curious burden…
The irrepressible need to pass on what I’ve learnt.
If you passed an horrific traffic accident, you’d feel compelled to inform oncoming traffic coming around a blind corner or rise, wouldn’t you?
Give them a heads-up somehow. Put their senses on high-alert. Get them to slow down perhaps. Prepare them somewhat, using the information you’re privy to.
This is my aim and intention with this blog.
A friend once asked me why I was prepared to expose so many of my failings and misgivings in such a ‘public’ way. It renders you “so vulnerable…being a celebrity and all”. He was being protective I suppose. Or perhaps he was projecting.
This blog has an element of the confessional because it has to.
It’s easy to dole out profound truths and guidance, but without contextual reference and actual personal revelations they just sound like empty, useless platitudes.
Like bumper stickers.
Or those quotes that people like to regurgitate on their facebook walls.
Copy and paste. Share.
Profoundly true though they may be, they don’t really inspire or propel people into action.
I was recently encouraged to hear someone say that they felt emboldened by my willingness to put myself “out there” so to speak. As in, “if someone like you can admit to unpleasant stuff, maybe I can too”.
Thanks, but it’s not about me.
It’s about you.
I wouldn’t presume to try and help you to not make the same mistakes I did. But maybe, just maybe, I can give you an heads-up.
I will be sharing these thoughts and insights in a series of articles that I will be tagging with the title of this post.
They’re testimony to the young person I used to be.
They’re inspired by the young person I would have preferred to have been.
They’re dedicated to you, young person.