I’m sure at some point during my college years, I was sitting in my Brentwood apartment, rife with empty beer cans and half-eaten Doh Specials (white rice mixed with Vienna sausages and canned tuna, seasoned with Tabasco, garlic salt, and black pepper), trying to project a future for myself.
At the time, my desire to write for a living was a compass, but I had no lay of the land or even a map to get lost with. Also, being surrounded by the remnants of my sloppy lifestyle weighed down my perspective. My insecure wet-eared 22-year old self asked: “Future Daniel, is it ever going to get any better?”
The answer is yes. Don’t you worry turd, things will turn out fine.
For one thing, this ongoing trend of professional writers spewing out snarky yet self-deprecating prose really fits our natural voice. So, go 22-year old Daniel. Keep holding onto that dickish sense of humor and crippling self-doubt. I’m still using it to great effect, like the old grey hoodie that we stole from Paul in high school.
Some updates for you 22-year old Daniel: I never moved to Korea, but I’ve managed to become a copywriter. I’m working at a 9-5 job that pays me on time. I live on my own in San Francisco, which means I’m surviving my broke 20s in a city that charges 15 dollars for a salad. That’s an achievement all in it’s own. Hell, I even have a larger room than most of my friends do…I mean…I live in the crotch of The City among the addicts and their horrible stench, but the keyword is live. I could be dead by some crackhead’s hand by now.
But as a note 22-year old Daniel, I’d be very aware of your surroundings. Otherwise, bad bad things will happen to you.
It’s not all just mere silver linings and job stuff young buck. I’ve recently become an uncle to the most beautiful baby girl I’ve ever seen. My relationship with our family is tighter than its ever been, minus a few wrinkles here and there. I’ve learned how to dress myself…which I wish you would’ve learned had you not been so enamored with “keeping it real.”
Let me tell you something: keeping it real will keep you from getting laid. You’re not as charming as you think you are, and definitely not charming enough to pull off slippers every god damn day.
Speaking of the charm you don’t have, I’ve gotten my heart broken a couple of times, which is pretty valuable in pushing me forward into legitimate manhood. You’ve yet to experience it, and it’ll feel poison for awhile. But you’ll come out stronger.
Sidenote: I recommend early and hard heartbreak to any budding youth. You learn perspective and reality when it comes to this thing everyone calls “love.” You also learn to stop putting your preferred mate on a pedestal, and treat them like actual people instead of mythical unicorns.
Of course, heartbreak is only constructive if you don’t remove yourself from it by blaming everything on the gender in question. After all, you – not “bitches” and “douches” – are the common denominator in your mathematical equation of love.
Most importantly 22-year old Daniel, I’m writing. Granted, I’m not writing the next Great American Novel, but it’s better this way. You may have Kafka’s insecurites, but you don’t have his talent; and your skills don’t magically canonize themselves when you get older. Trust me, because I’m the older version of you. Stay optimistic, keep reading, keep writing. You’ll only get better if you continue to do those two things.
Wait, this is important. Pay very close attention.
You know how you treat life like a game, and you don’t take anything too seriously?
Don’t ever lose that part of you. It’s the only part of you that’ll keep you from going crazy. You’re going to meet a lot of scumbags in this world. Some are hidden in the clothing of your friends. Some are strangers waiting to blindside you as you turn the corner. But if you take failures and betrayals to heart, you’ll end up a poor, bitter, spiteful aspiring writer like all the canonized ones…which really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Just remember, at the end of the day, you’ve got your friends and family. I can happily report to you that I’ve managed to hold onto both. I’ve managed come a long way from being you 4 years ago, so don’t worry. You’ll be great.
Also, if you could send along a few messages to 15-year old Daniel: start lifting weights now, quit smoking while you’re not addicted, play sports, learn how to talk to girls, and stop spending so much time on the Internet.
Oh, by the way 22-year old Daniel, you can stop going to church. 24-year old Daniel will explain why when he gets here.