A Letter To 14-Year-Old Me

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Dear 14-Year-Old Paul:

First, I hope you had a great birthday last weekend. Actually, it was our birthday. You see, I am writing to you today as the 60-year-old man you grew up to be. This letter is coming from the future, your future. Our future.

You are almost done with junior high school, which they now call middle school here on Long Island. High school may seem a little daunting because the seniors are so big, but you know that growth spurt Mom and Dad have been telling you about? It never actually comes for you. Don’t get me wrong, you still grow to be a healthy adult, but you’re not going to make the basketball team.

Now that you know a little about being a teenager, try and enjoy the next few years. High school is really different than junior high and the work is much harder. Your social life becomes front and center, but not everyone needs to like you and not everyone is going to want to be your friend. That’s just the way it goes and that’s OK.

You know how much you like baseball, especially the Mets? You are going to have a lot of ups and downs with that team, my friend, but stick with it and stay true to the Orange and Blue. They are going to break your heart a lot, but what are you going to do, root for the Yankees?

By the way, I know that girls are starting to make their way into your little group of friends, but they are nothing but trouble at this point. You think the Mets are going to break your heart? Sports may not be a great substitute for girls, but it is a pretty good alternative. And just so you know, nobody is making out with girls as much as they say they are.

Girlfriends will come and go, only don’t get your hopes up for setting any records. Unfortunately, you are a fairly shy kid and worry way too much about getting rejected. At some point, you find the girl of your dreams and you will just know that she’s the one. To this day I can’t explain it, you just know.

Don’t hesitate to take that journalism class in 11th grade, it will change your life. It will begin your journey with the written word. You will work on the school radio station and when you get to college, believe it or not, you will be the sports editor for two different schools. But before you get too excited, real jobs in journalism are few and far between in the 80s. Hang in there with computers, that’s the future.

Turns out you have a pretty good sense of humor, so learn to use it wisely. You also are a pretty good organizer, so just remember if you don’t get those tickets for everyone, your entire group will never go anywhere. Before you know it, you’ll begin taking driving lessons and getting your license. You are going to get a really crappy car to start out with and after just 48 hours, let’s just say you will be glad it was a crappy car.

You are really going to enjoy your 20s. During those carefree days, you will make friends for life and go to concerts, finding out about a singer named Bruce Springsteen. Hold onto the people in your life that are always there for you. Don’t waste time worrying about those that walk away, it’s not worth it.

Trust in destiny, my young friend and you won’t fret over making the wrong decision. Whatever decision you make works out just fine. Don’t sweat the past, keep living in the present and look forward to the future. Have confidence in yourself because you have a lot figured out, more than you realize. Take that chance. You never want to say, “I should have.”

This journey we call life has a lot of ups and downs. You are going to laugh a lot, cry a little, and have a really good time along the way. Just remember, family is everything. Hang out with your little brother more often and include him in your life. When you guys get older, you will realize he is as cool as you.

Follow your heart and always listen to the little man in your head. I won’t tell you specifics of the future because I don’t want to ruin the movie for you. Just believe me when I say it’s really a fun ride. By the way, hang in there with that new hockey team, the New York Islanders, it gets much better in a few years.

Alright, maybe just one specific thing. This spring, when you get that single in Little League with all your cousins watching, stay on the base. The first baseman still has the ball…

Paul DiSclafani lives in Massapequa. You can reach him at pdisco23@aol.com.

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Paul DiSclafani is a columnist for Massapequa Observer. He has called Massapequa home for 50 years.

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