We’ve all felt that wave of regret and embarrassed bewilderment when looking through old Facebook comments, posts, or last year’s tweets. There you are, just innocently wasting your time scrolling through content when you come across [on second thought, you run headfirst into] something you posted that makes you want to crawl into a shell and hope desperately that all of your friends happened to be off of Facebook that day. Or maybe you’re simply simply reflecting on a conversation from middle school, and you remember saying something that you would only expect from an ungrateful, inconsiderate brat.
It’s pretty clear that, especially at this age, we’re learning and growing more rapidly than we can account for. A subtle sense of appreciation for others is built up by books, movies, talking to people–all of that stuff. Also, your restraint and thinking-before-speaking-skills are always in the works from a young age. Even the dramatic pleas for attention over social networking eventually dwindle as you learn that complaining about their problems likely isn’t accomplishing much for them.
I’ve personally spent time in the middle of classes during high school deeply regretting certain remarks I’ve made in sixth grade. How crazy is that? I’m getting anxiety over something that happened eight years ago that nobody remotely cares about but me. Is this the product of an infatuation with my perception? Am I trying to hard to market myself as likable that when something temporarily crushes this image of myself it is something worth worrying about years later? Maybe. I’m not so sure though. I think this suffocating embarrassment is because, as much as I don’t want to believe it, that person who made fun of a disabled kid was ME. That kid who posted that status calling out people for being lazy was me. As much as I would like to, I cannot detach myself from my former self, and I can’t go back and change anything in the past. Here’s what I can do. I can forgive people, especially young people, for acting ignorant or hurtful because the only thing separating me from these people is a few years and a bunch of life experience. The more obvious but just as important piece of advice I have is to forget about it. No matter how disgustingly superficial, disingenuous and cocky I was as a fifth grader , it has zero to do with the only form of Dan Nolte that ever exists: the one in the present.
I’ll often catch myself kicking a past version of myself for neglecting to thank someone or staying home instead of going out with friends, but I try to remind myself that not only does this not matter for the present, it is also a necessary step in getting to where I am right now. Really think about that. I’ve made a shit load of massive, glaring mistakes in my life, and will continue doing so forever. All of those mistakes mean nothing compared to what I’m doing in my life right now, and what I plan to do in the immediate future. I try to look back on those embarrassing posts or conversations, and use it as a sign that I sure as hell have grown since then, and remind myself to avoid whatever was the source of my disgust going forward.
The funny thing is that as I’m writing this, I know that I will likely look back on this blog and point out elements that embarrass me. Maybe I’ll look back and see that bit about “dramatic pleas” as being too harsh, or that forth paragraph as too cliche to be meaningful. Well, future self, how’s this: Fuck You. I’m not going to avoid speaking or expressing anything that’s going through my head simply because it will probably look childish and immature when I’m older. I’d rather worry about right now.
Josh briefly peeked up from his book to gauge the his remaining time before the warm summer night would [quite inconsiderately] render the precious words invisible in the backdrop of the pages. Like he did nearly every night up to this point that summer, Josh challenged the dwindling sunlight to a race to the end of the chapter. He skimmed over the words, blinking several times to readjust to the light. His high hopes would crash as he turned to see a page full with text, further delaying the finish line that he anxiously sought. After nearly five minutes of rushed skimming, Josh finally gave in and, defeated, closed and laid beside him the book that had kept him company during the last three hours.
He leaned back and felt the familiar grooves of bark in the tree that he used as a backrest. Taking a deep breath, Josh fixed his sight across the barren corn field onto the trees about a hundred yards away. He gazed unblinkingly, watching as the fireflies took turns sparking to life, only to vanish in the same instant. It’s strange, thought Josh, how no one really notices it getting dark. He thought about how darkness surreptitiously overtakes the sky in a way that even if you were all alone staring at the stars, you would have a hard time pinpointing an exact moment in which it shifts ever so slightly into a darker hue of black.