I’m in Ohio for 24ish hours, because I’m giving a talk at Miami University later today. I’ve given talks at conventions over the years, and some of them have even been successful. I’ve keynoted two PAXes performed at lots of w00tstocks, so speaking to large groups of people is nothing new for me … but this is the first time I’ve actually prepared a talk on a subject, and traveled across the country to give it to a bunch of college students.
While I was working on my talk, which is titled Stop Hitting Yourself: We Need To Talk About Bullying*, I realized that I have been out of college longer that my audience has been alive. So … that’s neat. I was reminded of a moment last year, when I was having a drink with my friend. He asked me where Anne was, and I told him that she was out with her friends, because one of them was celebrating her 50th birthday. I said it like I would have said, “She walked to the corner and came back,” because that’s about how much of a big deal it was. My friend, who I’ve known since we were teenagers, was quiet and thoughtful for a moment, then looked at me and said, “we have become our parents’ weird friends.”
So on the one hand, I embrace and love that I’m 43 and feel like I have at least that many years left in my life. On one hand, I feel like I’ve got a lot of this Adulting thing figured out, and I don’t totally suck at it. On the other hand, if I was 20, would I listen to 43 year-old me? I sure hope so, because I’m about to go speak to a few thousand of 20 year-old mes.
*As I worked on my talk, I kept drifting away from that main topic, and toward addressing the root causes of bullying, which I believe are rooted in unhappiness, so the majority of my talk is what I would have wanted to hear when I was 20. Instead of some old guy coming up and going “Hey don’t do this you damn kids,” it’s more like an old guy saying “I’ve lived a lot, and while there isn’t a cheat guide to being happy, here are some things I’ve figured out that work more often than they don’t. Maybe they’ll work for you, too. Also, don’t be a dick.”