Hi there! I hope you’ll indulge a departure from my usual musing on The Stretch. This weekend is my 20 year high school reunion. I’m behind schedule on this journey so I’m sadly not making the big party. But, the buzz and chatter on Facebook has unearthed long-forgotten memories– some excruciating, some embarrassing, some poignant, some tender. Lately, I find myself reflecting on my life since then, the person I was at 18-years-old, and what I wish I knew then that I know now. If I could put my hands on my 18-year-old self’s shoulders and look right into her eyes, I would tell her..
1. Lighten up. Seriously, lighten up.
2. Your career doesn’t define you. How you treat the people you love defines you. Measure yourself by how you’re doing in your relationships.
3. Trust your gut because you actually do know what’s right for you. The best mentors help you come to your own conclusions. There are a lot of good people and there are some real wackos who think they’re helping. Be aware of the difference.
4. The third glass of wine is the one that leads you to crazy fun or crazy trouble. Know this about yourself.
5. You will never regret the money you spend on travel. You will regret the money you spend on the linen couch you were unsure about. I’m here to tell you that you will never grow to like it.
6. Since no one else will say this to you, I will. Slow down on the red lipstick. It’s not your best look and for years you are unaware of this.
7. Your mom is right about a lot of stuff.
8. Please stop obsessing about your weight, I mean it. It’s such a distraction. You’re going to wish you still had that caboose you complain about at 28. I promise.
9. You’re not going to marry any of the men you date between 1992 and 2012. Even if you think he’s the one, he’s not. Try to have fun and don’t sweat the break-ups so much. And, this “Alan” that you fill 1/4 of your journal about in 2003, for the life of yourself you won’t know who the hell he is when you find said journal in 2011. If “Alan” walked into this room right now with all of his one-of-a-kind qualities and proposed–WHICH IS WHAT YOU SO DESPERATELY WANTED– I still don’t think you’d be able to recall him. Unrequited love is seductive but a
ridiculous waste of time.
7. Wear sunscreen and sit in the shade. Over the next 20 years you’ll spend a lot of time and money at the dermatologist’s office undoing the sunshine of your youth.
8. Learn to cook and buy yourself some nice kitchen stuff before you turn 35. Perfect three killer dishes and have those ingredients on hand always.
9. Don’t ever say or write “…and just like that…” unless you don’t want to be taken seriously. Okay?
10. If it doesn’t feel right in your gut, don’t do it. Walk away.
11. Bullies subsist far beyond the halls of high school. When you meet one, or work for one, make sure you look them right in the eye. They feed on fear.
12. For goodness sake, learn to be more concise. Every explanation
doesn’t require a metaphor.
13. Buy wedding and baby gifts off the registry. Creative gift buying is not appreciated on these occasions.
14. Perfectionism sucks the joy out of everything.
15. Learn to practice gratitude every single day of your life. It’s gonna make all the difference when things get tough. And, meditation really does work.
16. Be gentle with your words. Keep your temper cool. Don’t let pride get in the way of making important phone calls.
17. Tell the people you love that you love them as often as possible. And, be honest when someone asks you how you feel about them. Trying to spare their feelings, or your own, almost always ends badly.
18. Ask for help when you need it and accept it when it’s offered.
19. Just go and see. You never know.
20. Some of your closest friends at 18 will still be your closest friends in 20 years. You’ll celebrate weddings and babies and share hard times too. You’re part of each other’s history and that is a rare and beautiful thing.
21. It’s all going to be ok.
What would you say to yourself at 18?