Mr. Halbert: A Letter to my 17-year old self
Dear 17 year old me,
First things first - as I look back at you/me at 17 it is clear that I wouldn’t change a thing. I am a strong and confident man who is respected and successful and I have a wonderful family and an excellent quality of life. I love and am loved. I am blessed beyond reasoning and have YOU to thank, my 17-year old self. You helped shape me, helped me learn what is important in life, and catapulted me into an exciting and dynamic life.
BUT, let’s be clear - you made mistakes, lots and lots of mistakes. I certainly FEEL like I learned from those mistakes (or LACK of understanding) and I know - having studied the teen brain - that your thinking brain was not yet fully developed and that part of the process of being young is to fall down and get yourself back up again. All that being said I wish I could say these specific things to you:
1. Don’t be so dumb. You don’t need to try so hard to be “cool.” Looking back I CRINGE at how you were not yet confident enough to JUST BE YOU. I wish you didn’t feel the need to be accepted by the “right” people. You had good people around you, real friends - and that is enough. Also, don’t take crazy RISKS that might hurt yourself or others. You are smarter than that. You are smarter than that. YOU ARE SMARTER than that.
2. Stop being so lazy! Stop screwing around and get the important work done. You. Can. Do. BETTER. Yes, you can have fun. Yes, you need to be young and figure out relationships and how the real world works. Yes, there is more to life and learning than school. BUT, get those grades up! It isn’t hard - just focus and get the work done. Focus Halbert, focus.
3. Finally - I wish you could SEE better. I wish you could see how much mom and dad love you and support you. I wish you could see how much you have and not focus on what you don’t. I wish you could see how blessed you are with opportunities and options. I wish you could see the stupidity and irrationality raging around you. I wish you could see what is real and true.
All that being said: today, I am deeply thankful that I NOW SEE. Why do I now see what needs to be seen? Because of you - 17 year old self. Because you made mistakes but you learned and grew from those mistakes. Because you were given a strong foundation of morals and ethics by incredible parents - and because of that, I now see.
So, thank you. Thank you for the sight. Thank you for contributing to who I am today and for catapulting me into a bright future. I am grateful, I am thankful, I am wise but imperfect - but I now see what needs to be seen.
In the bright lights of a brilliant and purposeful life...I am yours.
(Ted Halbert: English Teacher)