Given that I've been writing this for 8 years now, it's an almost certainty that this topic has come up before. That noted, who cares? File this one under most things in this blog: The category of self-reflective self-indulgence.
Anyway, if I had a time machine and the ability to go back to 1980, this is what I'd tell myself.
1. Worry Less
Steve, you worry too damn much. The reality of life is that it happens one day at a time anyway. There is absolutely no sense in ruminating over all the details of life at age 16 in your head 24/7. Let most of it go. Life will come to you in the order upon which it is ordained. It will be okay.
2. Study More
Steve, you're smart but lazy. Would it kill you to actually study for a test every now and then? That 90% could be a 100% with a bit of effort. This isn't about grades in as much as it is about simply challenging yourself a bit more. Real growth requires real effort.
3. It's Okay To Be In Your Shell
Steve, by the time you get to be my age you will have learned enough about the subject of Emotional Intelligence to actually teach it. Part of that learning is the realization that it's okay to be more inward thinking and reflective. Don't listen to those who say you need to "come out of your shell"; if you like your shell, well then that's fine. All I ask is that you make it a conscious choice.
4. Continue To Study Religion, And...
Steve, you'll spend countless hours reading about different kinds of religions and religious philosophies, and that's great. Consider taking your research one step further though: Actually try to experience some of what you read. It won't make you become some cult member, and contrary to what you learn in CCD, you won't burst into flames the moment you enter a Protestant church. Oh, and don't give that Hare Krishna guy money when you see him in downtown Scranton, as that album he's selling stinks.
5. Let Go Of Guilt
Steve, the guilt you feel about most thing is, quite frankly, really damn stupid. While you're worrying less, also let go of the senseless guilt. Yes, you have a good conscience, and feeling bad over something you actually did that's guilty worthy is fine, but realize that's not 90% of the guilt you actually feel about most things.
6. Question Authority A Bit More
Steve, I know that you've been trained to always respect authority, and that's okay. However, respecting is different than "never questioning". You can be respectful of authority figures while also having license to use your own head to sometimes question their motives. Oh, and this is yet another thing you can do without feeling guilt. This can serve you well now and into the future.
7. Your Junior Prom Will Be A Fiasco
Steve, first, when you go remember to turn off the car lights before you enter the banquet hall. Second, before you go, get a decent table assignment, as you'll be defaulted to a table that's best described as "punitive". Third, for god's sake man, lighten up and have some fun. Finally, that white tuxedo will make you look like a Q-Tip; do yourself a favor and get a classy black tuxedo to wear.
(The Albert Brothers, Jr. Prom bound in 1981: I'm on the left...looking, well, very white.)
8. Buy That Used Guitar
Steve, you'll regret never at least trying to learn to play something.
9. Fight With Your Brothers Less
Steve, this is an easy one. Don't be an idiot to your brothers. They're good men and all four of us are sometimes fighting the same (not different) battles.
10. Take Up Running
Steve, the day will come when you can't eat all (or even any) of the fast food you want. Take up running (or as it's called in 1980 "jogging"). It will help you later on.
And two bonus points...
11. When It Comes To Girls...
Steve, see #1...worry less. Just be confident in who you are, and don't worry about members of the opposite sex liking you. Instead, focus on liking yourself, and the rest will take care of itself. Oh, and by the way, at age 50 you'll still have better hair than most of the popular guys in school. The hair thing starts to slide though on or about age 51...just saying.
12. Hang On To The Duster
Steve, trust me, the '74 Plymouth Duster will actually be cool one day.