What does your 16-year-old self think of your life? This came up in a comment on nevers
' journal and turned into a thing I've asked a few people since then. Here's mine.
My sixteen-year-old self, who we will call F16 from now on, is only somewhat disappointed.
It's important to get back in her head, and remember how single-minded she really was. So the first and important thing is that this older lady, still shockingly recognizable around the face and hair area, went to MIT! She really did! It's a little odd that she settled in Boston, but this "Boston" place seems a nice enough city, and oh so very far from Montana. This older lady never went back! She really got away!
F16 also is happy about this capacity to do the splits: eeeeee, oh wow, I really did it. Though... it took me how long? What!? Ugh. Also, that was supposed to happen in pursuit of a black belt, what happened? What happened to the black belt!? It is surprising and discouraging that martial arts turned out to be a less-than-two-year thing, at which I did not excel or even persevere exceptionally; though yoga and circus are not disappointing, and in fact this handstand stuff is very cool and fascinating to her already. (Check out those acro pictures, too. Older lady appears to have friends, with whom she has fun!)
F16 is horrified at my still getting zits. Like, ever -- she is not appeased by the drastic reduction brought about by cutting out dairy. She really thought that such blemishes were things a person didn't have to deal with beyond age 22 or thereabouts.
Never had kids. Oh interesting. F16 is unsure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, having not come to strong conclusions yet on that matter. But having donated eggs to E and V, that makes her laugh out loud in sheer delight: what a story! Amazing! The way she liked E last year (he was in fact her first date), and the way all the hurt disappeared when he came out to her, this is all fresh in the mind of F16 and she is pleased to find this character reappearing later.
The biggest disappointment is surely around money and career and stuff, though this is all messed up and contradictory: the older lady, she sees, earns far more than she thought possible on a yearly basis, and yet does not live in an oceanfront house, nor did she make a fortune in the stock market, nor does she have a particularly exalted position in a company. F16 (in good company, frankly, along with F21) thought that advancing through a career would be easy, that she would excel as she did in school, that it would be like advancing through a series of empty rooms (that's how it was for Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, after all). But this, it seems, was not the case. Why not the case, older lady? Why do you have only a dozen-person group at work, instead of an empire? What happened?
That cat looks like a little snow leopard! What is that thing? Ooooh. :D
(Working in software is clean, though. So clean. Older lady never has grease under her nails, and wears reasonably nice clothes, and the condo she lives in is spare and open and not at all built out of fenceposts. It's very good, too, that she owns it outright.)
Polyamory is a strange concept for F16. It's important to note that she's wildly hormonal, so she gets that part -- and she has been introduced to some challenging concepts in this area -- but she's overly in love with Tomcat and therefore currently unable to imagine being attracted to multiple people. (In fact, oh, heartbreak: learning that something goes wrong with Tomcat, that F17 will go off to MIT with tears in her eyes and there will be no inter-college sex visits, this is going to be a very difficult thing for F16 to get past.) Taking the long view, though, F16 is pleased to have gotten married and to have gotten the chance to -- in real life! -- act out many of her kinky fantasies. Being tied up and whipped in front of a roomful of strange people in NYC while some random person held her feet? That's going to, I mean, that did, that really happened? F16 laughs in awe. This is good enough to overcome the weird, she thinks. And it's quite okay with her to have slept with a couple of ladies on the way.
These seem to be the big things. It's not as bad as I thought it might be. There's disappointment around martial arts, not living in a tremendously fancy house, and -- almost inconceivably -- not staying with Tomcat. But it doesn't seem like a bad life overall. There are good surprises in it, and my MIT dreams came true.