The first person you have to trust is yourself. This means you have to be able to depend on yourself first, then others.
You have to stay open and appreciate the people you have close to you. You might stay close with them, you might not – there’s a whole bunch of stuff that happens in life that can drive people close together or far apart.
Some of it can be good or bad, either way – you can get stuck with the wrong people close to you for parts of your life, as an example, or you might drift apart from some of the good people.
Life isn’t very good at making sense, and it has the capacity to drive smart people crazy. It does sometimes – and sometimes, smart people just don’t act normal (there is a difference). Nobody knows exactly where that line is, but people go to school and draw it with big fat neon crayons. Stay on the right side of those lines – the side where you’re not considered crazy by people in white coats armed with neon crayons and diplomas signed by other people with diplomas who got them, eventually, from someone without a diploma if you go back far enough.
But back to people leaving. They leave, new ones come in, new ones become old ones, some die, some move away, some change (or suddenly you find out who they really are…).
In all of that, you have to be your own rock. You have to be that one person that you can depend on, and you also will be the one person that others depend on – if only one person who you might even know or appreciate, or a crowd of people that you despise.
You’ll figure it out. You don’t have a choice. But remember, enjoy what you have while you have it, and understand it’s not yours – that at some point, it might disappear – but you’ll have the memories to smile at, the people who you absolutely wish the worst on, and you’ll move through life in directions you won’t expect.
The only thing you truly have is who you are; you do not yet know that completely, you will explore it as you grow older. You will think you know who you are at points, and then you will learn something new – it happens fast at first, it slows over time as you stay true to who you have found you are. One day, you will look back.
And one day you may give advice to a younger man.
Adapted from a conversation with a teenager.