if only i had a timemachine

dear high school stephen,
there is so much i want to say, but a lot i don’t because in life sometimes you have to learn the lessons the hard way. people can try to teach you, and beg you to change, and hope for the best but at the end of the day you have to learn the lesson.
you are absorbed with the opposite sex, but honestly you are not going to end up with any of them, actually you will lose track of everyone you have known from this era of your life except for a few people… and those were your guy friends. instead of trying to hang out with the opposite sex all the time why don’t you concentrate on developing meaningful long term friendships. trust me there is no point to attempt anything else.
popularity is the most pointless pursuit you could ever honestly strive for in your whole life. you are going to look back at these days with near disgust thinking of the clothes you wore, the clubs you joined, or didn’t join, the people you hung out with, or left behind, all in attempts to do what? popularity dissipates as soon as you throw your hat in the air at graduation. it vanishes within mere seconds. like aforementioned you will NEVER see these people again, a year after you graduate you will be off to college and perhaps see one person from your old school walking the opposite direction on campus. you won’t even say a word, just nod. do me a favor and wear a pink boa and sunglasses to school. rid yourself of caring what other people think. you are not your status.
do you remember all those nights where you spent with your family and you wished you were out doing anything but? guess what, now you wish you could go back in time and spend one more weekend night eating pizza and watching a movie with them. popularity is extinct, the friends you knew then have moved on, the ‘cool’ places you hung out at closed down, and all you have now is your family. never ever take them for granted. actually… spend more time getting to know them individually. they all turn out to be amazing people. and don’t take for granted your grandparents, your really really going to miss them after they are gone.
confidence. you have none. and i don’t know how to teach it to you through a letter. why not is all i am saying. why not try things you have never tried. why not go places you have never gone. why not just say yes. why not stay up all night. why not just walk up to them and introduce yourself. why not learn to play the guitar better (hint hint), just try it.
this world is small, trust me, it is so very small. new york city rests in the palm of your hand, los angeles, the ends of the earth, all of it is obtainable. don’t be intimidated by what you can’t see because honestly, the opportunities are endless. just go. just do. if you want to move anywhere you can make it. get rid of your small town mindset as soon as possible. you are not trapped, you are not bound to any one town.
you are not bound by your grades. don’t think you’re a failure because your report card indicates it so, who can test creativity? who can put a grade on ambition? your smart enough, and with enough perseverance you can make it to grad school if you wanted. all in due time.
your future self, stephen


Anonymous said…
Dear past self,

What he said.
Anonymous said…
Dear Stephen,

If you had known all of these lessons earlier, would you really be able to understand them?

It may seem easier to believe that you could have made yourself a different person and changed for the better, sooner, if you did have a time machine; however, there are people here and now who are grateful for the things you have learnt, and the ideals that you are sharing with us on your blog.

As long as every human being knows that we can't live long enough to make every mistake, and that all we can really do is learn, then there will be people out there who benefit from your words, and there will be people out there who are helping you to realise these things as well. Regardless of if the lessons come when they are young or older.


Present Jessica.
James said…
Experience may be our only true teacher. That doesn't mean we shouldn't do things because we can't 'know' what they will be. On the contrary. We should take the risk, jump out, and get the experience, the real knowledge.
-lindsay- said…
i'm not sure that i'd go back in time to say anything... every dark blot has made me who i am...
perhaps i'd hold that crying-five year old...
or maybe not, because i would know that's something she needed to get used to in the years to come...
but just once... just once...

i have had the opportunity to stare at myself at a younger age face to face. even down to that silly purple hat with the pink bill. she was my camper for a few days... so much like me at that age...

whe faced with yourself, you find that you don't know what to say. how can you make them understand?
you try to give them hope...
and let them learn on their own because you know that's all that you can do.
-lindsay- said…
i know what i would say now, i wouldn't go back too far:
lindsay, that's stupid. he's liked you that long and you've only liked him a couple of days. listen to the voice in the back of your head that says he has shallow bipolar feelings. here's a secret: he still has feelings for her. he will get over you so fast your head will whirl when he goes back out with her.
keep him as a friend.
just tell him you just can't go out with him.

let me know when you have that time machine, i want my friend back.
Anonymous said…
Dear high school Victoria:

You are not as intelligent as you think yourself. You are not morally better than anyone, you are not holier, you are neither nicer nor more courageous.

You are prettier than you think you are. But don't worry so much about that. Men that are kind and interesting will be around soon enough. Just not yet.

Read your bible. Don't assume you know anything- it will prove you wrong, and you will be grateful. There is so much to learn.

Forgive your Dad. You're going to need some time.

You will learn to love soon. It's incredibly freeing. Your little baby sister is going to change you forever.

God will give you the things you truly want and need in time.

-present Victoria
mikeage said…
Yes, all these things may need to be learned through expierence, but what's wrong with Stephen wanting to give himself a head start? I sure wish I knew all this when I was in High School!
Story of a Girl said…
I love when you write about what your were like and how you thought about yourself in High School. I can totally identify to... especially to the parts about wishing for "popular status" in high school, lol. I really love your encouragement regarding staying close to family and grandparents. I lost my grandma almost a yr ago and didn't realize how much I'd miss her not being there for the rest of my life, and the important events:( I'm so glad you're creativity led you to a wonderful career. You really deserve it... you are very intelligent and also very compassionate towards others who are in need.

p.s. i will have to do one of these for my own blog :)
claudettegm said…
dearest stephen,

thanks for sharing and giving us a (tiny) glimpse of what you were like in the past. it's not as easy as it sounds to let bits of your skeletons out of your closet for the world to see. so thank you. mostly, thanks for plucking up the courage.

well... i gather that you don't seem to be very fond of your past persona and you seem to regret the mistakes that you've committed. DON'T! instead, be glad and proud that you've been that person and you've grew out of that phase and know where you've went wrong. that is all...

live stronger.

love, claudette m.
Caitlin Ostberg said…
All I can say is thank you for posting this. It's an amazing reminder for me (only two years into college) of how I should live life. How I want to live life. So thank you for teh insightful letter. :)
Anonymous said…
this is so true and so inspiring. i love that you're posting more. please keep it up!
Renny said…
What a great letter.

I wrote a letter to my 14 year old on my 24th birthday.

If only we could have known right?

But we are still young! It isn't too late! Life is so great.
I am going to write myself a letter to my 15 year old self in the future. future me, what can you tell me now? even if names and specifics have to be classified. should i start self analyzation now?

thanks stephen. this..makes sense.
DaphnetheGreat said…
Dear high school B,

I have nothing to say to you, you never listen to anyone anyway.. (And in case you did, knowing how much you dislike surprises, I didn't want to spoil it for you.. I'm nice like that!)

Future self
maah said…
Stephen, your letter to highschool Stephen is very inspirying. it gives us hope e will to go behind what we want, what we wish for. and give our best. maybe you woulnt be able to understand these lessons earlier, but you always need to understand them, you always need to remember these things you wrote in life. write more soon! cant wait to read =)
Anonymous said…
that was beautiful... thank you so much. Now I'm wondering what advice my future self would give to me for where I am at the moment...
Anonymous said…
i love how real and down-to-earth you are, stephen. it amazes me and i'm so glad my bestie showed me your blog :) you encourage me and inspire me; i would be so blessed if you'd check out my blog? im a poet.

Anonymous said…
I'm in high school now, and it's terrifying to think that everything I'm doing might just be a mistake. People always look back and wish that they had done more, and I always feels like I'm not doing enough, just going through the motions and making decisions I will soon regret.
Anonymous said…
If I could change anything it would be the aspect of forgiveness. I would let hurts go quicker.

The guy that dumped you, the teacher that was less than kind, the girlfriend that started the rumor about you, where are they now? Not in sight.

People have their motives to get you out of the way, jealousy, insecurity, and fear often cause some ugly behavior. I missed the fact that I could be intimidating by being good at what I do. Even teachers can be jealous. Learn to step back and follow the motives. If your heart tells you something is wrong, it probably IS!

I regret not staying true to my passions no matter what others thought was good sense. I have a degree I don't use. I went back to my true love,"art" and work in that field. I NEVER should have left. I could stay really angry or I could fix a lot of these mistakes. I am so sorry it took me so long just to BE ME.

So my letter to myself would just need to simply say, FORGIVE OTHERS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND MOVE ON!
Cynthia said…
That was pretty honest.. its a shame we really can't be taught by our older selves. But our older selves wouldn't be as wise if we didn't suffer through the tough lessons we've learned. Your advise to yourself was easy to relate to & what is amazing is that as I was reading and flashing back.... I thought,"this is how I should approach being a mom.." My daughters are babies now, but I dread raising teenage girls, its gonna be hell!
Liana Merriam said…
If I had a time machine, I would go back to after the show in Champaign, when I waited to see you in the parking lot, and I would think of something clever to say, instead of gawking at you like a dumbstruck fangirl.
Rebekah said…
This is very true. Having only graduated last year, I can see many of these aspects in my own life.

I go over everything I have experienced in high school and in life overall and I know that I would not be the same person I am today.

If I had the option of not doing something that was going to "work out" in the end, I wouldn't. Failure defines me.
Chris said…
in our first year of high school we wrote letters to ourselves and they were returned to us in our final year. i was so naive haha

but i have to say, even leaving a note behind for myself could never prepare me for some of the stuff i had to face.

overall, pretty proud of how i turned out.

some people never stayed in school long enough to see the letters they wrote to themselves.. i think they're the ones who needed to read them the most.
Joseph said…
Damn, Stephen.
KP said…
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. As is faith, hope, love and wisdom.

Life, like God, only gets deeper the more you learn and the more you dig.

Christian, you are a wonderful soul to many. Keep trucking.

Hannah said…
If nobody had regrets and/or mistakes that we wish we could do over, we wouldn't be nearly as experienced in utilizing our current dispositions. five, six years ago, there are PLENTY of things I wish I did and didn't do....mainly, things I was too insecure to participate in. You sre right in saying that our status does not define us. Too often, I thought the opposite - now, at 20 yrs old, I'm learning more every week...every day, not to care what people's opinions of me are. What I do, I must do for an audience of One. Not the crowd. Thank you, Stephen
Dear Stephen,
I can see myself in what you write. I grew up in a small mining town in Sweden, and believe me, it's much smaller than Winter Haven. You went to the same school with the same people from kindergarten to 9th grade (our system is different) and there was always a competition for the most popular guy/girl. You were supposed to play soccer or do gymnastics and those who didn't bought a moped and hung by the gas station or at the school when the others went to practice. Since it's a small town it's also fairly safe, so it was a great place to grow up in, but after high school there is not much left for you there. If you want to become something more than a employee at a menial job with a family with 2.5 kids and a house that needs to be restored you need to pull yourself together and get out of there, which can be terrifying! Higher education can't be acquired there. I dared to leave for uni and I'm so glad I did, cause I see my friends from high school stuck there getting nowhere. They work at one of the gas stations or substitute at one of the schools. I'm so glad I'm not them. I did okay, and I can look back at high school me and admit that I was pathetic in some aspects, but mostly I'm proud that I dared to get away. I don't regret a thing about either past me or present me, because it has all been a part of who I am today.

Yours sincerely,
go_hughie said…
Dear present me,

everything he just said applies to you now

Amy said…
Dear Amy age 18

You are about to make a choice that will make you insanely 'happy' for a while. I want to tell you to change your answer. I hate how you will feel when you are 21. It is the worst feeling you will ever have up until this point in your life.

I want to say to change your answer. But I want you to make this mistake.

You are the person you are today because of that choice. You are stronger, wiser, and so much more focused on things that matter, namely, not yourself.

At 21, because of that choice, everything you thought you knew will be turned upside down in the space of a week. Yet because of it, God met you in that place and raised you up.

HE ALONE lifted you up. Nothing else could, nothing else would, nothing else will.

So make that mistake, and KNOW that He is there. Because there is no greater thing I could say to you than this: He will never forsake you, He is the only person that will ever say they love you and mean it, He will not let you down. Trust him fully.

Even the darkness is not dark to Him, the night is bright as the day.

From Amy, 22.
Miguel Cristo said…
You do realize that your ticker is your time machine, right? (lol) It keeps you in this world, and keeps you in the perspective (going forward... always pushing ahead) that you are, indeed, moving forward constantly through time, in your machine (your body), until your ticker stops, and it's time to say bye to time... if you can make the mental leap, as to what I just said there... Anyways... That post was great... You gave us, the common/unknown/faceless followers of yours, a little insight into your inner drive towards success, which you seem to be plowing forward constantly in the direction of... it was refreshing to read... thank you. Michael Thordarson.
Miguel Cristo said…
P.S. Our promise still stands, mi amigo... :) ...Your big sold out concert on the 3rd... I can't go (sad face)... Belt out some ticker-beat skipping vocals, and sing away the Stephen of your past, and embrace the Stephen of the now, which is heading yonder toward the amazing Stephen of the future... let's (us: your followers) hope that we have what it takes to keep up... godspeed!!! -Thordy.
Anonymous said…
Like you said, we take many things for granted. Not that the "cool" kid wouldn't be an addition to you life experience, but you focusing on the "cool" part is. Anyone and everyone adds a little bit to our life lesson, and we have to learn to focus on the things that make the going worthwhile. Like the friendships and fraternal love themselves, the familial love and how much ever single person has to teach us. We are all different and have different points of view and things to teach, no matter how small they may be. Like your own words said "laugh, LOVE, live free" and sing if you can.
love, Ana
Candice said…
I can relate so much to this. I've only been in college for two full years now and it is crazy how life changes. Don't you love hindsight? It teaches us things about ourselves that we would never notice if we didn't have the courage to go back and examine the past. Keep it up and thanks again. :)
Anonymous said…
i can relate to this post sooo much. other than academics or anything we will use for the rest of our lives that we took from our teachers throughout school, nothing we did or tried to do to fit in matters because years from now we wont remember and even if we do it really wont matter. everything we did made us who we have become, but not everything we did was right and yes there are many regrets.
ix2sarah said…
I'm glad i came back to your blog. havent been here since about Dec/Jan because you havent updated.

you know, i wish there was a time machine...but even if there was, i dont know if i would be any different...

lets just forget about our past, "what if..." and live for the future.
Raechel said…
Damn, and look where all this brought you. :) I'm proud you've come so far Stephen!
Anonymous said…
Someone commented that it seems like you're not very fond of how you used to be and to not be like that but to be glad of who you used to be. That's not a direct quote I just tried to write enough so you would know what I was talking about lol. But anyway, I agree because I actually just used you as an example to a friend. I told him that the way you describe yourself in high school reminds me of him. I hope that him hearing your story and seeing how you used to be and then seeing how you are now will inspire him to come out of his shell and be ambitious and live his life to the fullest. So although you may not be proud of how you were and you may regret some things that you did or didn't do, I know that God has used your story to help many people. Your story has inspired me to take risks in my life and try to live it to the fullest as well :) So don't be ashamed, instead be glad about your past because it is your own unique story that God has used to help other people. If you would have never been like that, you wouldn't have this amazing testimony! :)

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