Your Beard Will be Thicker; Your Skin Not So Much: A Letter to 17-Year-Old Me

Dear 17-year-old me,

First, thank you for keeping journals those last two years of high school. Decades later, these notebooks will help you recall things you’re going to forget, namely what a whiny, narcissistic yet cripplingly insecure drip you are.

Having reviewed the content of these journals, I have some insights I’d like to share.

For starters, you’re not in love. I repeat: you are not in love. You are having big, new feelings about girls in their mysterious 1980s wool sweaters. Calm down. Don’t be in such a rush. Stop writing poetry. To your credit, your desire for romance is rather sweet, as is your willingness to be content with heavy necking because, quite frankly, that’s all you can expect for quite a few years yet.

While we’re on the topic of girls, future you will remember the day in the cafeteria you tried this trick where you let a girl know you like her by staring at her with half-closed eyes. It really worked! What you’ll forget, 17-year-old me, is that it will take you two full months to finally ask that girl out. It won’t last, despite the heavy necking.

And don’t be so negative about women. It’s borderline misogynistic. The female species (as you like to say) are not conniving, manipulative and cavalier; that’s the human species in general.

So don’t be a jerk to girls. They are just as confused and weirded out as you are. Remember when you broke up with that sweet girl – at a dance! – by saying “I don’t want to go out with you,” and she said, “Is it because of my friends?” And you said, “No, I like you and all, I just don’t want to go out with you.” And she said, “Okay.” And you said, “You don’t hate me do you?” And she said, “No… no…” Remember that? Then you wrote, “I think she could tell how difficult I found this.” Dude: LEARN TO READ THE ROOM!

Also, don’t lose hope. Love will come, and it will be more amazing than you can imagine. The pain will be greater too. Spoiler: some girls like skinny geeks! They even marry them!

But still, would it kill you to work out a bit?

Back to the poetry. I know you fancy yourself a serious writer but let’s play a game: which of the following are excerpts from your journal and which are lyrics from Taylor Swift’s latest album Folklore? (You’re going to hate Taylor Swift.)

A) This is the me that is really true/I’ve shown you me, now show me you
B) But now it’s over, I don’t exist/To you it’s like we never kissed
C) It’s hard to be at a party when I feel like an open wound
D) Hope never dies for the girl dressed in tears
E) I’m only seventeen, I don’t know anything/But I know I miss you*

So, yeah, keep having fun with language, but no poetry. The world will thank you.

Some other things:

Where’s everybody getting all the booze? There is a lot of underage drinking going on. Do your parents know about this?

Acne-wise, count yourself lucky.

In February, 1984, you write: “Happiness is discovering hair where you never knew you had it.” At middle age I can confirm: false.

On the whole, shaving is a drag.

As for the future, you will have four children. Imagine! So, yes, you will be poor.

You will also have cats. So many cats. They will disrupt your sleep every damn night, so good job now sleeping in as late as you can. In addition: you will spend a year referencing cats in every newspaper column you write.

You will write a newspaper column.

I wish I could tell you not to do something so you won’t get cancer but I don’t know what that is. Maybe don’t tear around in your father’s car so much.

Do a better job at maintaining friendships.


Finally, about the writing: I hate to break it to you but you won’t be a famous writer, certainly not like you expect. Look how your daily journal didn’t last past high school; you don’t have the discipline. Also talent.

But you also say in your journal that all you want to do is entertain people. As a writer, you will at least do that. Most of the time.

You have a good future ahead of you, 17-year-old me. So lighten up. Thankfully, you won’t always be such a drip.

Most of the time.


Future You

*Me: A, B, D
Taylor Swift: C, E

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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11 Responses to Your Beard Will be Thicker; Your Skin Not So Much: A Letter to 17-Year-Old Me

  1. beth says:

    from drip to puddle, to_____? you have made it. only a matter of years. and more and then less hair. and you are funny.

  2. Excellent. You have a knack of putting lightness and humour back into the hapless youth and life in general. I should use that perspective to re-visit mine!

  3. cat9984 says:

    Maybe you should have tried writing pop songs. About cats. And your love for them.

  4. “Go ahead, don’t be shy” – It did motivate me for commenting. I just stumbled across your blog – started with your cancer story. I wish I also had this art of expressing painful experiences in a light and humorous way. All teens are like this only. But my luck, that I read your post.

Go ahead, don't be shy.

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