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Message In A Bottle

Hey there.

You don’t know me, but you will.

I wanted to tell you some things that no one else will, either because they don’t know and can’t, or because they think you aren’t ready for them.

I know things are confusing right now, that you’re trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do, who you’re supposed to be, what you’re supposed to like.

I understand that you’ve been forced to find comfort and stability within yourself because it seems scarce when you have to change your entire environment every several months.

But you’re doing pretty good, kid.  Sorry, I know you don’t like that label.  But that’s kind of the problem, you didn’t really get much chance to embrace being a kid.  At least not without the burden of expectation and potential, without the anxiety of knowing where you’d be tomorrow.

You wonder why people don’t seem to like you more.  I see how much you try to be funny, how much you try to make the people who raised you proud.  How much you retreat into your room and yourself because it’s the only place you can just feel relaxed and accepted. But you don't really completely accept yourself, do you?

Sometimes you feel like you were born into the wrong place, that you’re an alien on Earth, that you have to hide what truly inspires you inside because no one is ever going to understand.

But someday, and not even too long from now, they will.  And boy oh boy, will it change everything.

The bad news is, all that supposed smarts you’ve got, all your creativity (and trust me kid, you’ve got plenty of it) isn’t going to lead you to a path of financial security or any kind of fame or fortune.  In fact, you’ll struggle a lot, and I’m sorry.   I know you feel like you’re supposed to do great things.  

But great for who?

There’s so much to process when you’re growing up, and sometimes it feels like you’re running on auto-pilot, not so much making decisions as going where the river takes you.

But you can’t afford to think “this will all make sense when I’m older, I’ll know what I’m doing”.  Don’t wish the hours to speed by, even if you find yourself doing not much but daydreaming about how you wish things were.

Some of it will make sense, and you’ll understand yourself extremely well, but the world?

The world will just get more confusing, and you will have to be the sense among the senseless.

Great, just what you wanted, more responsibility, right?

It’s okay.  I mean, it’s not okay that you’ll almost always feel a constant background anxiety, but the good news is that you’re tough.  You don’t seem tough to other people, especially your peers; you seem soft and easily manipulated, but they don’t see what’s inside of you.  Your parents see that, at least in part, and even if your intelligence is cautiously exciting to them, it’s your toughness that is reassuring to them.

Speaking of your parents, let’s talk about them for a minute.

You haven’t had an easy life.  And honestly, you’ve handled change remarkably well.  But there are a lot of kids who are going through similar things to you, and some who have it way worse than you.  Because even though your parents mess up, they love you so much.  Older doesn’t mean you have all the answers, that you know all the right things to say and do.   But love, real love, can be a shield to get you through the worst of times.  

You’re never going to get to be a parent yourself, and you may be relieved to hear that, but someday you’ll feel sad about it.  Yeah, I see that you’ve got a bunch of questions about that.  But the important thing is that your parents gave you something that will grow into the best thing about you.

The ability to love and care for others, to empathize, to comfort, even people who are completely different from you.  To have an open mind and open heart. The things that you'll be shocked and saddened again and again to find so many others lack.

That thing that you keep so secret?  Here’s the best part, you’re gonna love this.

It’s going to be a huge part of your life, and you’re going to surrounded by people who get it, who love it, who are excited to encourage you about it.  It’s literally going to be your salvation when it seems all is lost.

But you’re going to have to wait, and it’s not going to happen the way you think it is.   It sucks having to be patient, but patience is one of the most critically important qualities in life, and not having it makes you a worse person who has worse outcomes.

Sorry, I know I’m going too fast all over the place.   But hey - that’s on us.  That’s how we are.  You know how it is.  We’re always thinking about the next thing even as we obsess about something.  Weird, isn’t it?

It’s hard to know exactly what to say to you because so much of this is things that life will teach you.  You know how exasperating it is when your parents say something that sounds like a lecture, or a “life lesson”?  Don’t fault them, they're just trying to teach you things that they learned the hard way.  But people tend to learn better when things happen to them, even if it feels more painful, because that pain is sometimes what makes us pay attention so we can avoid it later.

One thing I want to tell you is that you can’t get too overconfident.  I know you know that you’re emotionally ahead of a lot of people your age, but you’ve still got SO much left to learn.  That emotional intelligence is going to come in incredibly handy, but it isn’t everything, and you’re still going to do a lot of the wrong things for the right reasons.  It’s the thought that counts, they say, but it doesn’t often count as much if it doesn’t manifest the way you intended.

Stay humble, but be careful because humility is not hating yourself.  Yeah, I hear you saying that you don’t hate yourself, but you absolutely question yourself, and that eats at you, every time someone looks at you with negativity or indifference in their eyes.  Again, it’s not you.  You’re a good kid doing your best.  Try to not be so rough on yourself when you feel lost.  Everyone feels lost, and getting older isn’t going to fix it, just give you more ways to cope with it.

I see you getting fidgety to play Atari and listen to your music.   I get it.  But please, listen to me a tiny bit longer… I don’t know if any of this is going to sink in, but I’ve got your best interests at heart and I know you better than anyone else.

I’ll try to be brief.

Follow your heart.  It’s the most beautiful, powerful thing about you.

It will guide you when you’re lost in the darkness.  One day the love you have will be your greatest weapon against all the ills of the world.   It will make you strong, it will find those who need your love and give it amply back.  I know it sounds like a Hallmark cliche, but it’s so true.

Back to that secret thing you love.  That’s going to be a huge factor in how you give back to the world.  And yeah, a lot of people aren’t going to get it even when you find your tribe of people who live it.  But it’s okay because that’s what makes you shine, that’s something that will protect you and guide you even as others ridicule you for it.

Don’t be scared, but there’s going to be some dark times ahead.   A lot of what seems like reality, what you think you know about the world is going to change.  Sometimes in ways that are going to be really confusing or depressing.  But you know that feeling that you should do something important with all your ability and intelligence?   You will.   Not on television, not on the radio, not in the news… but in the lives of the people who see you and hear you.

Soon, you’ll be introduced to the internet, and it’s gonna seem amazing, but…  one day you’ll be so incredibly glad that you knew a time before it, because it will ground you and make you realize that even as the world gets more advanced, sometimes it comes at a price. Those record stores you love to go to, aren’t going to be around forever, at least nothing like it is now.  You’ll be able to have thousands of songs at your disposal at any time, but having so much so easily, will also make it feel less special.


I see that look.  You think I’m nuts.  I mean, we are, in ways.  But they’re good ones.  Being different is treated as a flaw and a problem by the world, but it’s actually important that we are, it’s how we progress as human beings. It's what makes us special.

If you’re doing your best, if you care about something, then that’s as close to “doing the right thing” as you’re going to get.   There will never be a point in time where you’ll have nothing left to learn or no space to grow into a better person.  Long after you feel like you’ve learned all the important things there is to learn, you’ll realize you were way off. Unfortunately, by the time your mind gets to a place that feels great, your body will be starting to deteriorate. You gotta try to laugh about it as much as you can. A sense of humor is going to be essential.

You may never have a lot of money, but having a lot of love is way better.   Money is critical to survive, but that’s the main use of it.   You don’t NEED tons of it, even though it’s what everyone wants and what society tells you is what you have to have.   You do have to have it, but if you have enough to have a comfortable roof over your head, to eat well and have some things that you like, you’re fine.   Love is what you want to put your effort into, and people.   Relationships are the most important thing in life, and lucky for you, you’re really good at that.

Kindness, maturity, sincerity, integrity…. Keep those things in mind, always.   They will always have value, and will always make your life sweeter, and the people whose lives you orbit into.

Things will get easier, but they’ll also get tougher.  But one day you’ll be able to sit in a room of smart, witty people who love you dressed as really soft attractive animals and that will be the greatest peace, joy and comfort that you will know.  Haha, I saw that look of excitement followed by brief panic.   Don’t worry, it’s just between us, and it’s not bad anyway.  You can get excited, you should be excited.  It’s incredible.

Okay, I know I can’t keep your attention any longer.  I appreciate you listening to me, you’re a pretty good listener when you can keep from getting distracted.  There’s so much more I want to tell you, to help you, but I know you’re smart enough to figure it out on your own.

And get used to people calling you Croc.  You’re going to love hearing it and it will make perfect sense.  At least to you and the important ones.

Love yourself, because I love you.   It took me way too long to be able to, but you’re so much better than you ever feel like you are. Trust yourself more, you're gonna mess up but that's how you learn to be better.  I’ll always be here for you, because we’re in this together. You got this.

Never be afraid to tell people what they mean to you.  People need to hear that, most of them never get as much love and respect as they deserve.  Be a constant source of it.  It will help you, and them.

Try not to worry so much.  I know it’s hard, and I know you care, but it isn’t going to help you find the answers you desperately want.  Not everything has an answer or a solution.  You just accept it if you can’t change it for the better.  But you often CAN change it for the better, just by being yourself.

Ok kid, go play your games.   Enjoy the brief amount of time you have left to be young and unaware of the complexity of the world.  Try to appreciate the little things, because little things add up.  Oh do they add up.

I’ll see you down the road.  Oh, and… don’t throw that old dumb fun stuff you made away.  You’ll want to see it again when you’re my age.

Please take care of yourself.  That question about who you’re supposed to be, and what you’re supposed to do?

You are, and you will.  And I’m so proud of you.

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This was beautifully written, Croc. Hope you're doing well, bud, it's been a while!

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