It’s kind of a shock, really, to realize just how young I was when I was a teenager. Maybe because I’ve lived in this body for almost 64 years and this is the same exact body I had when I was 16 (it’s grown a lot since then, but still, same body). Sometimes I look around me when I’m sitting at Starbucks banging away on my laptop and see teenagers doing the same math problems and reading the same books that I did, and I think to myself, "My God, they’re so young! Was I ever that young?" The answer, of course, is yes. In fact, I can still remember what it was like when I was their age. I see what they’re reading, and I remember how I felt when I read the same thing, and start to experience it all over again.
At the same time, I look back at the stupid things I did at 16 and cringe, just like I did then. I have to remind myself that I was young and stupid then, and if I hadn’t done what I did then, I wouldn’t have that experience that I have now. I wouldn’t know, for example, that if you’re smitten with a gorgeous girl who doesn’t even know you exist, it’s generally bad form to call her a bitch when she doesn’t respond to you. I still have nightmares about that, and I have to keep reminding myself "You were an idiot, but that’s all over now. Live and learn, and don’t do it again, okay?"
Sometimes I get a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and it’s almost a shock. "Who the hell is that old guy?" I’m sure it’s 16-year-old me asking.
There used to be a section of the classified ads in the newspaper called "Disclaimer of Debts," where people (particularly those who had had their identities stolen–yes, it used to happen quite regularly then, too) would declare "Responsible for my debts and signature only after February 19, 2020." There should be the same kind of thing for when you want to just forget about something kind of embarrassing. Maybe post it on Craigslist or something.
I guess what I’ve discovered is that I have had to learn to cut myself a lot of slack and not obsess over the stupid things I did when I was younger. You would do well to learn the same thing.