The book on the top of my re-read stack is called The Letter Q. It is a collection of letters from many lgbt authors, giving messages to their earlier selves (in the spirit of “It Gets Better”.) I’ve been looking forward to reading this book again because there are quite a few tremendously talented writers who have contributed their thoughts.
Before I begin re-reading, however, I wanted to think about what kind of message I would like to have given my teenaged self. What would I want to change, what bit of wisdom would have helped me avoid the many hardships of my twenties, thirties, forties, and even fifties?
I am reminded of a quote from James Buckham: “Trials, temptations, disappointments -- all these are helps instead of hindrances, if one uses them rightly. They not only test the fibre of a character, but strengthen it. Every conquered temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.”
So I think my message to my younger self would go along those lines: Set your moral compass toward something you believe in, and don’t let difficulty or public opinion or fear or any other damned thing sway you off that path. Don’t run from adversities, face them head on. Don’t shrink away from challenges where you might fail, jump in and fail if need be, for nothing is gained by not trying. Feel every disappointment right down to your bones, and learn from them, grow strong in the knowledge that you will overcome them. And above all, when you see ways to help others along their path, do so without needing or wanting anything in return. Be generous with others as well as with yourself.
Would that make a difference in how I lived my life? Probably not. In my teens I didn’t listen to anyone over thirty….