There seems to be some common assumption that you know more as you get older. I don’t think so. Contrary to the usual smug advice dolled out by seniors to juniors, I think it would be way more fruitful to have my teenage self take a gander at my life at 50.

So here’s my 5 top teenage tips.

Let yourself do sweet f all

Teenagers are ace at doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Teenage life is all about going with the flow. If there’s something they actually want to do, like go to a party, then they’ve got the energy of ten ice addicts. But when it’s chores, or there’s nothing in it for them, they slip into a torpor approximating death.

It’s that time thing. As a teenager you’ve got such a surfeit of it you can WASTE some of it. Assuming doing nothing is a waste. Which is my point. Adults think time should be spent IN A PRODUCTIVE FASHION. If it’s a work day you should – must! work.

My teenage self says Monday Schmonday. Lie around sometimes. Idly flick through TV channels with your feet up. Paint your toe-nails. Read stupid shit on the internet or watch cats playing piano. Do nothing useful at all. It’s pretty damn good when you get down to it.

No one gives a shit about a clean house (or when did you turn into your mother?)

My teenage bedroom floor, desk and bed was strewn with clothes and letters and books and knickers discarded sunny-side up. As long as I could find what I wanted to wear/eat/read/sew, and a clean pair of knickers for my handbag, then all was good.

Now I have the clean house itch. (Not an STI but similar). I work from home so I’m round the place way too much, and sometimes I honestly hear myself banging on in the most tedious manner possible as I pick up the papers/step-kids shit/shoes/cat toys etc.

It’s freaky the way we start to channel our parents as we get older. I know some form of system is required around the place or we would drown in crap, but a bit of chaos never killed anyone.

Quit freaking out about the future

Most of my life I’ve had this bizarre inability to think about the future in any concrete form. At various times I’ve forced myself to do two or five year plans and for a short time afterwards I had the comforting feeling that I was working towards some kind of concrete outcome that was guaranteed. However it was never long until some shit or other went down and the whole plan (and me) derailed.

Nothing happens like I intend. Ever. I used to be pretty much okay with that. But turning 50 has made me regard the future as my ancestors regarded the Germans coming over the top at Ypres. Time is closing in with bayonets drawn, and that lovely great warm expanse of it is gone and now I have to ACHIEVE something or BE SOMEBODY like RIGHT NOW!

Teenagers, at least my generation, had no thought past what’s happening the next week. So my teenage self says chill the fuck out. You’re just driving yourself mental with all this pressure. Yeah, there may be less time, but that just makes it sweeter. Just do less of what you hate (e.g. dusting) and more of what you love (e.g. drinking. Whoops. No. Something else fun. Yes, that.).

Get your arse up and away from that TV

At 17 my bf and I would go out to the opening of an envelope. However because NOTHING EVER happened in Christchurch, we actually spent many many nights playing maudlin Smiths songs, drinking cheap plonk and dreaming about our fabulous grown-up lives and how fabulous they would be.

Well fabulous is not really the word that springs to mind, but now I live in Melbourne and lets face it there is interesting shit going on pretty much all the time. I blame the TV but yep, it’s just laziness that keeps me and mine in night after night.

My teenage self says get the hell out and about! Put your shoes and lipstick on and go suck from that culture titty til you bust a blood vessel. Or til they put you in a wooden box and hammer the god-damn lid down.

Get with the program – passion is back in fashion

It’s routines. That’s the killer. You get into a rut when you grow up. You get sensible. Boring. Cynical. Been there done that and no, my friend, it does not work out.

There’s no rut for a teenager. Everything is BRAND FUCKING NEW and it’s so great because it’s new, even when it’s turns out to be a bit shit.

It’s easy to be passionate (and not cynical) about big exciting things like winning the Melbourne Cup. But big wins might easily be years apart. Who can wait? The trick here is getting excited about the small stuff. That’s what teenagers do. It’s brilliant.

Remember when something small and inconsequential last yanked your chain? I can tell you a couple that yank mine. Like the seedlings coming up in my little seed pots. Like the owl that paid us a night-time visit. Ever watched a cat cleaning their face? It’s ridiculous. And gorgeous. Yep, it’s sort of uncool, and yep, it feels like peeling off armour but it’s so much better, trust me.

We can’t climb back into a teenager’s life and thank god for that. No one wants back that truck-load of insecurities. But you have to GOD-DAMN WAKE UP TO YOURSELF seniors! Get out of that rut. Travel some place new. Learn something new. Start that hobby you always wanted to. Get a radical hair-cut. Change jobs. Change partners. At the very least get frigging surprised and excited about stuff again. Especially the small stuff.

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