That was the Facebook status I saw posted up by “The Trevor Project” a few weeks ago. The Trevor Project (an extremely worthy charity and one that I regularly donate too, would love to see a chapter opened here in New Zealand), is all about making sure that Gay Youth feel and know there is hope and help for them in their quest to find out exactly who they are. As a person who was the recipient of bullying in my youth, I can appreciate their mission and their goals and support them whole-heartedly. They regularly post up on to Facebook simple questions that make us ask how can we help, because of course, if I could give my 12 year old self some advice from my old age of 51, perhaps the advice could help some other GLBTQ youth. And as a strong believer in the concept of “Only the examined life is worth living” I often give these simple questions some deep thought.
However this simple question “What advise would you give to your 12 year old self?” threw me for a loop. I admittedly starting going thru all the possible scenarios, first and foremost was MANY variations on the “On <insert date here> you will want to <insert an action here>, instead you should <insert recommended response here>” style of advice. The problem here being that isn’t “Advice”, that’s trying to change history. This type of advice is all about regret, would-a , could-a, should-a. So the next type of advice I could give myself was “Know that you are worthy of loving and being loved”. That is very good advice and I would wholeheartedly give it to any youth today, or myself of 39 years ago, but it would have not been much help for me back than because I “knew” it to be true, but I didn’t “feel” it to be true, and someone else telling me, even myself, would have made no difference.
The other things I would advice myself fall mostly under the category of “You have an addictive personality, moderate your drinking and drug usage, maybe don’t do any of it at all…”; yeah right, the thing is I WAS given that advice at 19, 22, and 23. I didn’t take it than, I strongly doubt I would have taken that advice to heart at 12. So once I have eliminated the “Change History” type of advice, the “you are worthy and worth love” advice, and the “dude, you’re an alcoholic / addict” what is left?
Actually a lot of good things are left for offering advice, but at 12 years old for me, they would have just sounded like supercilious and trite homilies; ”Father Knows Best” crap. and there in lies the rub. The advice that could help me most, I would ignore or dismiss out of hand as being of no use. It is easy for us, as we get older, to forget exactly what youth was like. The funny thing is even the rewrite history advice, I would have ignored. I “know” me from back than, and I wouldn’t have listened. Most of those re-write history things would have been about protecting my heart and specific relationship advice, but hormones, lust, infatuation, and most important Love would not have allowed me to change my actions. And I’m not sure that is a weakness or a blessing.
The simple truth is, there really is no advice I could give myself at 12 that would in the end make any difference, because it wasn’t really about me, it was about the culture and world I was growing up in. So rather than offer “advice” to youth, I will instead strive to change the world they are growing up in to make a more accepting and healthy society and environment for them to be honestly themselves. And most important, they are entitled to make their own mistakes, I’ll be there to love and support them thru those.
04 Nov 13 09:39 |