A friend of mine, posting this, was decidedly “red pill” on the grounds that it would truly suck to be a 10 year old with all that knowledge that you couldn’t do anything about. Now, with the red, do I go back to the time that I was 45, or just drop my age to 45 now? Because there’s a bunch of stuff I could do if it’s the former. Fifteen years of foreknowledge can provide a lot of leverage.
If I were to go back to when I was 10, yeah, it would suck. There’s be a lot of hair pulling “No, no, no!” as I watch things unfolding knowing how they were going to play out. Then again, first time through sucked pretty badly too. There are a lot of things that would suck a lot less than it did the first time around. (The folk bullying me back then might be in for a big surprise to encounter Judo-brown-belt me.) I would essentially nail my classes. There wouldn’t be a lot I could do regarding my mother’s abuse at her then-husband’s hands (or maybe there would…I’d have to see the situation with fresh eyes. Accidents, after all, do happen. And given some of the stuff I was later to learn…)
Oh, and ten year old me with adult me’s brain? I am quite certain that adult me (who sold several stories to Stan Schmidt when he was editor of Analog Science Fiction) could sell to John W. Campbell of that selfsame Analog Magazine. That would get me some actual pocket money, substantial pocket money for a ten year old at that time and place, of my own. And that would let me do…
Middle school. I did a science fair in middle school. It was a disaster. I had the smarts but I didn’t have the discipline or the presentation skills. But, with five years of preparation (including money from fiction writing) and knowing what I know now? I work in Atomic Force Microscopy. It would be child’s (okay, teen’s) play to create a Scanning Tunneling Microscope five years before it was invented in “our” time. Oh, it would be crude. I don’t think the hobbyist computers were up to displaying an actual image, but an oscilloscope could show each “scan line” in sequence. It would show the concept.
And if that did not grab the attention of the physics community, I don’t know what would.
High school would be much better, even without winning fame and fortune (and Nobel Prizes) by inventing the STM. I, frankly, wouldn’t be much interested in the girls there. I mean, I visited the school something like 30 years ago and even then the students seemed such children. (Well, they were.) But then again, that’s no downside from first time through. It’s not like I had much (i.e. any) success with the girls first time through. I would, however, make some different choices when it comes to classes and, I think, I would have come out way ahead. There’s no reason I wouldn’t be valedictorian this time around. I could have been back then but lacked the discipline to do things like homework when it was boring (and most of my classes were). Six years in the military took care of that–doing boring tasks just because they need to be done at someone else’s direction? BTDT. So with top grades and top SAT and ACT scores (I got good scores on both of those first time around; no reason I couldn’t do it again) I should be better positioned for college and know better than to only apply to one school where my local clergyman had veto power over it. (That was a bad, bad mistake that time around.)
Come the 80’s I’d know better than to listen to that guy who took me aside and “explained”: “if you want to be attractive to women, you’ve got to wear bright clothes.” First time around, well, being unreservedly heterosexual with a very healthy set of hormones thank you very much, this was a very telling argument. Problem was it didn’t work and I ended up spending literally decades vaguely uncomfortable in my own skin and not knowing why. I could instead, accept my then nascent “inner goth” and concentrated instead on finding my “tribe” and people who could accept who I was rather than turning me into something I wasn’t.
Probably would have done college right out of high school instead of a good decade later. And, you know, I would have been well placed to jump in right at the beginning of the development of Atomic Force Microscopy. Come to think of it, it’s not impossible that I could actually invent it while still in high school. Get a jump of a year or two on that technology. (What a science fair project that would make.)
Coming out of college, I would be well positioned to jump on a number of things that I knew would become big. Stay low key, just make some “smart investments.” In the end, by the time I hit 45, I’m pretty sure I’d have a lot more than $50 million in investments. A lot_ more. For that matter, that Elon guy would probably be trying to play catch up with his piddling little SpaceX company.
There’s only one problem. In that alternate reality I would almost certainly never have met she who I would marry. And while that relationship turned out badly my daughter, Athena, my wonderful, wonderful daughter, would never exist.
I’ll take the roll back to 45 and $50 million, please.