Here is our ChicagoNow writing challenge this month:

What are three pieces of advice you would give to your 16 year old self?

Dear 16 year-old Michelle,

My first thoughts here were don’t get knocked-up, don’t get addicted to anything and try not to end up in womens’ prison.  While those are pretty good, I figured I could do better. Are you listening, Mick? Stop fantasizing about Pete Cetera (that’s not going to change, BTW) and listen to your 60-year old semi-wise self:

  1. Time. Is. Precious. Understand that life goes by exponentially-quickly with each passing year. Getting old is weird – it’s like being on a train going faster and faster, and the closer your destination, the more you don’t wanna get to your destination. You can’t grasp this at 16, but you are going to blink and one day, 40 years will have gone by. Savor whatever happens today, and especially cherish your loved ones. Not to depress you, but you’re going to lose a lot of them, so appreciate them NOW.
  2. Not to be pedantic, but it’s super-important to become financially literate.  Learn what a mortgage is, what APR means, how credit cards are lethal, with crushing interest rates that will hamstring you for years, eroding any chance of saving. You will start getting Social Security checks in your 60’s, but they ain’t enough to live on, honey. So start putting away money for retirement as soon as you find work. Even if it’s just 5 bucks per paycheck to start! Open a bank account just for that. Eventually, find a good financial advisor, who will help you amass enough to live on when you retire. You will be 60 so soon, your little monkey brain will spin.  When you retire, pensions will be a thing of the past. When your paychecks stop, you will live on Social Security and your savings. Start young! You’ll be shocked how it compounds. Again – SUPER IMPORTANT.
  3. Here’s the best one:  Define yourself.  And here is what that means: Ignoring others’ opinions of you. Finding your soulmate and your tribe. Realizing that your education should continue long past school. Reveling in your uniqueness. Developing your heart and mind and filling them with beautiful things that delight you. Cherishing humor, laughter. Becoming awash in the wonder of the arts. Delighting in animal companions, if you choose. Railing always against ignorance and hatred. Choosing courage, kindness and compassion. Understanding the life-altering force of forgiveness – both for you and your transgressor. Always taking the high road, no matter how tempting the low road may be.

Life is so damned short, my baby. It’s one shot and out.  Work to set a proper foundation of mind, heart and soul that will sustain you.  Delight in the world around you and have fun as often as possible!  And yes, that includes sex – responsible, of-age, consentual sex.  (Don’t make me come back there and ground you, young lady!)


Your still-standing, still-weird, still-optimistic 60 year-old self


THAT’S RIGHT…. come closer…. closerrrr……

Thank you for reading. Now come orbit Planet Michelle! Just type in your e-mail address, over to the right and up, and you’ll receive each post I pull from my little monkey brain.  No spam or name-selling, ever.

In an old-school mood?  Then e-mail me! –  planetMichelle4u@gmail.com 

Filed under: Life lessons


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  • Great advice to your 16-year-old self. Especially #3.

  • In reply to Very Terry:

    Thanks, Terry. I barely remember 59, let alone 16. But oh, to have that bod again, just for a day!

  • wow, If only we had someone to tell us these things back then, right? Probably wouldn't have listened, but, What a great piece!
    Thank you for sharing your sage advice! Me? I'm sliding into home plate head first! Well, it will look more like crawling, but I'm making the most of what's left.

  • In reply to Carole Lago:

    Thanks, C. Your piece on this was terrific, BTW. Nice take on the topic.

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