I can't believe it either. I still remember that when I was in the 9th grade, there were nights when I honestly didn't think I'd live long enough to get my drivers licence. It's not because I'm a hypochondriac or anything like that. It's just that I couldn't picture myself as anything other than what I was - a misfit kid that nobody seemed to understand, and that didn't seem to be able to understand anybody else.
If I'm being completely honest, that really hasn't changed all that much through my adult life. I still don't really understand people or the world around me, and I can count on one hand the number of people who I truly believe understand me, but I've gotten much better at faking my way through social situations to the point where it's not as big of a problem as it used to be. I am what I am, and I'm long past the point of feeling like I have to apologize for it. There are still times when a memory from the past will bubble up to the surface and make me feel like crawling into a hole, but then an angel appears on my shoulder. He looks disturbingly like Walter Sobchak, and he just shrugs his shoulders and says "Fuck it, dude. Let's play Tetris". He knows that I don't bowl.
I guess I've gone through the stages of grief and reached acceptance. The world is what it is, and I am what I am. Ozzy put it best - I don't want to change the world; I don't want the world to change me. I'm heavily flawed, but I do my best to not let those flaws negatively affect anyone else, and I've managed to carve out a life of peace and happiness. That's a hell of a lot further than I expected to get when I was an angry and scared 15 year old. If the 42 year old me had a chance to go back and say anything to myself at that age, I think I'd say the following: "Your story doesn't end here, kid. You ain't dying today or for a long time, so surround yourself with the things in this world that make you happy, and do your best to ignore everything else unless you don't have a choice. You don't have to live a life that anyone else approves of, because all this shit is completely meaningless. Don't hurt anyone, but don't kiss their ass either, and that includes trying to impress people. Why the fuck do you care what they think? You don't even like them. Now, dry your eyes and go see a movie. The bullshit will sort itself out."
I wonder what the 84 year old me would have to say to me today.