Though I didn’t have the same foresight as Jeremiah McDonald did in 1992, after watching his video I was inspired to try out my own conversation with the twelve-year-old me, twenty years later. Here’s how it went:
Hi. Who are you?
I’m you, in twenty years.
Weird. That’s what I look like?
Yes, your hair gets curlier.
You look like Mom.
Uh-huh. Anyway, I wanted to have a little conversation with you, find out how much has really changed. What’s going on with you?
Um, I just won the class science fair with my suspended animation machine, but I’m terrified to take it to the school science fair because I already know it doesn’t work. Everyone thinks I’m super into Looney Tunes, but I’m not actually, I just think they’re better than Disney. None of my friends are in my class this year. I think I want to be a toy designer when I grow up or a marine biologist. What am I like in twenty years?
Well, you do become a freelance toy designer, but you don’t make much money at it, so you also have a part-time day job doing design work for a division of Warner Brothers.
Cool! Like I draw cartoons or something? I take back what I said about Looney Tunes.
No, you design Powerpoints and internet ads.
What’s a Powerpoint?
Erm, a Powerpoint is sort of like your science fair board, but displayed across pages on a screen.
That seems dumb.
I’m not going to disagree with you there.
And what’s an internet?
Oh man, I forgot you didn’t have this until high school. The internet connects everybody’s computers together so that you can share information. You type in the address of someone else’s computer file and then you can use that file to look at pictures, read the news, buy stuff…it’s amazing. You can make video phone calls like in the movies! Oh, and the computers are basically just flat screens and have no wires. Most people carry a tiny computer in their pocket that’s also a phone.
Wow! So are you rich? Are you sharing all of your songs and stories and artwork and selling jewelry and tiny Fimo animals to the whole world? You must be so famous by now!
No, I’m not rich or famous. Day job making Powerpoints, remember?
Oh. Right. Are you not making songs or stories or art anymore?
I am, but there are literally billions of people out there sharing their songs and stories and art and products, which is awesome, but it means that even though you don’t technically need a publisher, or a record label, or even a store for people to find your work, there’s so much to sift through that it’s not much easier to get famous. Or rich.
So what are you going to do now? Are you married? Do you have kids? Where do you live?
One question at a time, please! I’d still like to be by own boss someday, making a comfortable living and creating beautiful things. I guess that’s always been the dream, it’s just taking a lot longer than I originally thought. I am married, to a truly wonderful man. You get really lucky with that one. No kids. We live in San Francisco now, which we like much better than New York, though I know you won’t think that’s possible, and we have lots of amazing friends out here who are like a second family.
Huh. I really thought I’d have kids before I turned 30.
Yes, yes you did. You also thought there’d be flying cars by then.
No flying cars? Rats. Well that still seems like a pretty good life. It’d be even better if you were rich and famous, though.
I’m working on it.
Any advice for me?
Be brave. Care less about what other people think of you and just do what you love. Be kind and empathetic to others, and own up to your mistakes (you’ll learn lots about this in the summer of ‘94). Keep playing the piano, and never let guilt motivate your decisions about relationships. Let down your guard sometimes, even though it will be hard to do until you leave New York. And care less about becoming rich and famous. You can be happy without being the center of the attention.
That all sounds hard.
Well, see you in 20 years, I guess.
See you in 20. You have a couple of rough years coming up, but don’t worry, everything turns out okay.