Sometimes I wish I could go back in time about ten years and give my teenage self dating advice. BC was the first co-ed school I had gone to since fifth grade. I don’t regret going to an all-boys school for sixth through twelfth. It was a good school, for one, and the casual disrespect that adolescent boys have for each other becomes less vicious when there aren’t girls for whom to showboat. But it meant I didn’t know how to talk to girls when I got to college.
So if I could send a bury a reverse time capsule for my 19-year-old self to uncover, it might contain the following advice:
- There’s a growing pool of advice on the web on Seduction For Neurotics (a/k/a PUA, Game, sarging, speed seduction, etc). Don’t waste your time. That shit will only deepen your worst tendencies without adding anything worthwhile.
- Figure out what you want to do with your hair. It looks good either long and shaggy or high and tight. But you’ve been wearing the same part since you were seven. It’s not doing you any favors.
- Become really good at something that you do with other people. Schoolwork doesn’t count. Video games don’t count, unless you have lots of people over to play them with you (which is common enough). This will give you confidence.
- Along the lines of #2, figure out your own kind of style. Right now your closet consists of whatever clothes you’ve been given for Christmas plus whatever T-shirts you thought were cool. Do you want to be the guy who’s always dressed really sharp? The guy who’s kind of ragged? The guy who wears ironic fashions of yesteryear? Either is fine. Just pick it and stay with it.
- You’re a good dancer. Do more of that.
- Have a beer. Nurse the second. Then pace yourself. You’re at your best between the second and third drinks of the evening. Sure, you’d like to be able to go shot for shot with the big boys. But you’re not going to weigh more than 175 pounds until you turn 21.
- Cultivate a diverse body of friends. Hanging out with the same crew all the time is great, but it makes it tough to find new people. College is one of the best times for this, because groups are desperate for new blood.
- Smile. That stoic glare into the distance works for photographs. It doesn’t work when you’re the tallest guy in the room and no one knows you.
- Ask her if she wants to see a movie. For fuck’s sake, you’re writing movie reviews for the college paper. You always have an excuse.
- Finally: you know those guys who are so funny and energetic that everyone wants to hang out with them? Guys who, if they called you up and asked you to go to Home Depot with them to compare paint chips, you’d jump at the chance – because you know it’d turn into some awesome adventure? Be like that. You don’t need to be zany. But (to paraphrase Fast Times at Ridgemont High) you need to act like wherever you’re going, that’s the place to be.
So take it easy, 19-year-old self. You’re starting late. You don’t need to get it all done at once.