About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Letter to my past self

I honestly have no idea who reads this blog. I know it's being read because I see the numbers and figures, but I don't know who you are. Since I always stress that personal growth is a process and that you're not born armed and ready with all the knowledge about the world and how it works, I decided to think about what I would tell my past self, in the not-so-secret (but perhaps misguided) hopes it might ring true for some readers.

Dear 16-year-old me,

I'm writing to you from the future. It's the year 2014, and we still do not have flying cars, but the world hasn't ended either. In many unremarkable ways, it's similar to the world you're living in right now. In some ways, it's remarkably different. But I'm not here to entertain you with a vision of your future self's present.

I wanted to impart some advice on you that I could have used back then.

Don't listen to people who tell you you should let go of your anger and accept things the way they are, but make sure your anger is focused on the right culprits. Don't lash out at people who don't deserve it. It is seductive to make fun of people who occupy lower rungs on the social totem pole, but by mocking them, you become complicit in the structures you'd like to change.

Don't hold on to grudges and don't hold on to self-flagellation: the former is, as someone once said, drinking poison in hopes the other guy will die, and the latter is cutting off your nose to spite your own face.

Don't listen to people who claim to speak with common sense, but develop some of your own by experiencing things. Don't be afraid to try new things. You'll miss 100% of the shots you'll never take. If you fear embarassment and being made fun of because you're a sensitive person, you diminish yourself. Own up to who you are. It's okay to be a little awkward sometimes. In 15 years from now nobody's going to remember except you.

Although you can't see it right now in the cutthroat jungle that is secondary school, you are an incredibly privileged person - and one with the capacity for change. Not everyone is given that quality, but don't be too hard on yourself if you fail a personal goal. Your time is a limited resource, and so is your bodily constitution and your mental health. Don't lose track of that. You might be stronger than you give yourself credit for, but you'll never be as strong as you'd like to be.

You can't change the world, but you can bring about subtle shifts in your own happiness and the happiness of people you care for, which may influence wider society at large in the end. Some people will remain assholes for the rest of their life, but remember that the best revenge is to live happy, not to dedicate resources to make them even shittier people than they already are. Tone down on your impatience - that is really your very worst trait.

Life will get better. You'll unfortunately suffer through terrible relationships, but you'll also know what it feels like to be loved pretty much unconditionally. Don't set yourself up as a saviour for other people. Focus on sorting out yourself and drawing boundaries. Don't let people syphon away your good cheer and take advantage of your good nature because you like to feel validated.

Love and sex are not a race. People around you are just as confused as you are. You're not entitled to someone's affection for being nice or whatever. Girls are individuals and don't belong to a hivemind - society is constantly trying to pull wool over your eyes in this regard, but make no mistake, while they sometimes seem to like "assholes", in fact they feel drawn to self-confidence.

You'll never be everyone's taste, but there will be plenty of girls and women who will think you are good looking. Take advantage of the fact that in ten years from now, you'll be at your physical peak, and don't let insomnia or bad dietary habits ruin the fact that nature saw fit to give you a mostly able body.

Also you have asthma. That's the reason why you can never keep up in long-distance running and always end just in front of the fat guys and the ectoplasmic skeletons. Get it tested and get medication for it, instead of accidentally finding out you have it when you're 24.

Keep sticking up for people who have it worse than you do. Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep being curious. Keep a budget. Don't play too many video games. They're nice entertainment and build some skill sets, but they're also a time sink where the investment isn't worth the eventual reward.

If you must take drugs, always make absolutely sure you're doing the right dosage.

Do your best a little more in French class. Resist the urge to pick at scabs, as you get older they will heal more and more imperfectly. Learn to relax. Trust your instincts. As time passes, they will get honed ever more sharply, and they will mostly turn out to be 100% on the money.

With lots of love,
your older self