I signed myself up for a little challenge of writing 500 words a day. It seems easy, but for someone who gets discouraged when she lacks inspiration and time, it is tough. Today’s topic was something I really enjoyed, so here goes. I might have gone a little over 500 words…
“Write something that you wish someone would have told you 10 or 5 or even one year ago,” said my morning email today. Challenge accepted.
Five years ago I had just finished my junior year at St. Amant High School. Here are five things I wish I could have told myself then:
Slow down, young lady.
Later on, you’re just going to want life to stop going so fast. And guess what, it won’t! Not just for you, anyway. Maybe if everyone on Earth worked together at once to hold it in place, it would at least come to a slower pace, but then what would we all be doing? We’d be stuck holding on for dear life, otherwise it would spin back into its usual orbit and fling us all off into space!
Life won’t slow down for you, but you can slow down for life. Live. Stop thinking so hard about the past and the future and enjoy the present while it’s here because life doesn’t stop. Yes, you’re about to be a whole senior in high school. Yes, you think you’re dating the “love of your life” who you’re going to marry and raise a family with. Yes, you think you have it all figured out. But sweetie, the only one who has got it all figured out is God, and he’s not going to put up picket signs with arrows telling you what’s going to happen next.
Enjoy applying for colleges with Dad. Enjoy working your part time jobs in the summer. Listen to your teachers, your parents, your grandma, your grandpa, your aunts and uncles who tell you to enjoy it all while it lasts. Wait til you’re in the “REAL WORLD.”
It’s okay to be terrified.
Yes, it feels like you’ve got a whole lot of weight on your shoulders right now. Everyone is telling you to enjoy your last homecoming, prom, set of teachers, yearbook, last everything. But meanwhile, they’re also telling you that you’d better decide on a college, and quick.
So dear me, hugging a lumpy couch pillow, crying, telling Dad I don’t want to do college: You DID IT! It’s okay to feel like giving up at times. A wise person once told me, if you aren’t terrified of the next step you’re about to take in life, you aren’t thinking about it hard enough. The fact that you put a lot of thought into working hard is good. Some people don’t care so much. You cared, you tried your best, and you got through it.
Be scared, anxious, whatever. You’re supposed to be. If you put a brave face on and just walked through life with no fear, would you really feel as if you accomplished anything once it was over? The fact that you pushed through fear makes for something to be extra proud of.
Stop caring about what everyone else thinks.
This overly opinionated person thinks you should just be a stay at home wife one day? Everyone assumes you’re going to be a teacher just because English is your favorite subject? No, no, no. Just because society thinks you should do this or that with your life, doesn’t mean you’re limited to just those things.
Really consider what you would enjoy furthering your education in. You’re going to change your major anyway, whether you can admit that now or not. And guess what? When you switch your major from journalism to English, no one is going to freak out and say, “MARLIE YOU LIED TO US. WE THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO CHANGE THIS WORLD OF POLITICAL MADNESS AS AN UNBIASED REPORTER. THE WORLD IS GOING TO BURST INTO FLAMES NOW, ALL YOUR FAULT.”
Everyone is going to be supportive. They’re going to say good luck. They’re going to tell you that even though you’re an English major now, you might still end up as a reporter. You’ll just have classes that are more fun along the way! Or they’re going to revert back to telling you that you’ll make a wonderful teacher. Just take it with a brick of salt and do what you want, kid.
Lastly, please, please don’t let the world tell you what career path to take after you get that degree in your hand. Please don’t let them tell you, you’d better find a job, quick. Because you’ll go through the same things all over again.
Find a job doing something that makes you feel fulfilled, whether that’s helping others, designing magazine spreads, or running payroll. You don’t have to have that passion figured out all at once either. Sometimes it takes stepping into a career path and realizing, hey, I am not in the right place. The search for the right place doesn’t have to be over in five days. Everyone moves at a different pace. Like I said before, it’s okay to slow down.
Love yourself a little.
Yes, you love your supportive family, your boyfriend, your group of friends, your small town, your favorite restaurant. You love that little social life you have, with everything just perfect. Guess what, hun. Only one of those things is going to remain the same forever. And that’s family.
Guess what else? In making sure you give all your time and effort to all those things, you forgot one person who is also important. You.
One day, you’re going to appreciate alone time. You’re going to become friends with yourself. You’re going to learn that a date with a book is way better than fighting with someone once a week to preserve a relationship that, quite frankly, won’t last a whole year once you graduate high school.
You’ll realize that maybe, just maybe, if you would have been friends with yourself a little more, you might have known a tad bit better what path you wanted to take with your career later on. And even if you still didn’t know, you’d have probably been a little nicer to yourself about it, at least.
It’s totally okay to give love to all the people you’re blessed with in your life. In fact, it is heavily encouraged in this book I like and recommend: The Bible. This same book also says to love your neighbor as yourself (Mk 12:30-31). If you dislike yourself and treat yourself poorly, could you imagine treating your neighbor that same way? BE NICE TO YOURSELF.
Embrace failure as much as success.
You are going to make mistakes. Small ones and big ones. You’re going to do some things you regret. You’re going to make decent grades in college, but not perfect grades like you did in high school. So enjoy being little miss perfect while it lasts.
You’re going to go through some break ups, you’re going to lose some friends. You’re also going to get in a fender-bender or two. You’re going to suck at saving money sometimes. You’re going to wake up late for work.
All of this makes you a better, stronger and wiser person. Also, none of it means its the end of the world, so stop trying to carry the world on your shoulders.
Those tiny moments of thinking, my goodness — I suck, turn into, wow, that experience really changed my outlook on friendship or what have you. You are not perfect, and never will be. And guess what, no one else is perfect either.
Letting go of some friends might mean letting go of toxicity. Letting go of a relationship you’ve held on to so long might mean much happier lives for the both of you. Failing a test might make you study harder for next time. Quitting a career path that makes you miserable might lead you to finding the right one.
Failure is subjective. Someone might look at a decision you made that you thought was the wrong one, and wish they, too, made a decision like that to lead them to something better for themselves.
It all goes back to loving yourself. Don’t just say, “Oh, I failed today, and give yourself a pat on the back. Say, “Oh, I failed today, but that only means I can do better tomorrow.” Definitely don’t say, “I failed today, and I am completely giving up on myself now.”
Failures, problems, heartbreaks, and all the other things that rip our world in two, become smaller and smaller as the life moves forward. Don’t dwell on them, just learn from them, love yourself and experience the life ahead of you.
You got this!