I read a post over that Brandi wrote over at Stepping On Cheerios that really made me stop and think. To be honest with you, this is a post that I have had in the back of my mind to write for a long, long time, but never sit down and take the time to “pen” out. After reading hers, however, I was convinced that now was the time to put the words down.
I think we all reach the point in our lives that we look back and wonder what we could have, should have, would have done differently. We reach back in ours memories and pull up and drag up things that either caused us pain or things that we would give anything to change. Brad Paisley sang about it a few years ago…the things that we would tell ourselves to do differently. Life takes unexpected twists and turns no matter what we do along the way, but I think that recognizing the “should haves” teach us the most important lessons in life. They are the lessons that we learn the hard way; the things that sting the most and sometimes cause the most pain that create our true character. They are the lessons that we harp to our children about later on down the road. The things that our parents used to tell us-and we refused to listen to. If given the chance, I could think of plenty of things that my younger self would need to hear:
For starters, I’d tell myself to lighten up. Relax. Stop worrying so much about what the “in” people thought. Who cares? While maintaining academic excellence is important [and believe me, with a 4.0 GPA the day that I graduated, excellence was a term that I took very seriously] enjoying high school is just as important. Remember all of those get together’s that you skipped out on? GO. Have a good time. It’s ok. Seriously. Even if you don’t want to drink you can still have a good time. Some of the ones you thought were so awful really weren’t all that bad to begin with. Have you ever thought that maybe-just maybe-you were the one who was conceited at times?
Remember Ms. Eva? Listen to her. She’s the best English Teacher you have and will ever have. When she tells you that you have talent and the ability to write, it’s because you do. Pursue it. Explore it. Act on it. And let her know how much you appreciate her.
Visit Maw and Paw Paw every. single. day. Even though Maw’s mind is going and she doesn’t always understand or comprehend what you say, tell her. Tell her everything. She’s one of the best friends you’ve ever had. Live in the moments with them. Even if you are just sitting there watching the Braves Game or listening to the surrounding silence. You’ll miss those times the most when you don’t have them anymore.
Let Granny teach you all of that random stuff she dwells on. Let her show you how to sew, how to cook, how to make candy. She’s going to be gone a lot sooner than you ever expected and you’ll be amazed at how empty you feel when she’s gone. She’s a wee bit loony sometimes, but you know that you love it. And she loves you. Adores you. Would do anything for you. So just let her be the way that she is. Enjoy her cheese grits and her candy and her coffee. No matter how hard anyone tries, no one will ever make them the way that she does.
Remember that guy? The one who was your best friend that you suddenly thought you were in love with? Leave it alone. Dudes nuts. Overbearing, protective, bordering on psychotic. Let it go. Let. it. go. If you don’t, it’s going to be the longest year and half of your life and you are going to sit on the sidelines and watch your Senior Year of High School slip right by because he’s an antisocial loser who doesn’t want to be a part of the big events of your year. Oh yeah, and his mom’s a nut job. You don’t even WANT to be a part of that.
When you get to college, be nice to your roommates, heck, even be friends with them, but don’t get tied up in the crowd and the extracurricular’s that they are tied up in. They are good as gold, but they are in totally different situations than you are. You’re on scholarship. And you’re in the best sorority on the hill surrounded by the best group of girls in the Freshman class. Embrace it. Have a good time and make lots and lots of memories, but do it different. Leave the bar and the parties and the alcohol every single night alone. Because trust me, if you don’t, you’re going to regret it from then on out.
Pursue something creative. Forget the teaching and the nursing and all of that jazz. You know in the back of your mind that that is not your calling. Take art. Take photography. Take a Creative Writing Class. Push your creative juices to the max.
For Goodness Sake DROP that stupid Biology Class. And the Lab. Just drop it and drop it NOW because there is no way you are going to pass it. And go to Sociology. It’s cake. I know it’s a 9:00 class and most days you are too tired to get up that early, but the class is easy. No point in making a “D” because you are being lazy.
Leave those dead beat, going nowhere in life, no passion or goals guys alone. Seriously. You are so much better than that and you deserve someone better than that. He is out there. I promise. Just be patient. He’s worth every second that you’ve ever waited for him. Don’t down yourself or settle for anything less than you deserve. No matter what anyone has ever told you, you ARE beautiful and smart and funny. And you have so much more to offer than you think. Trust me. Hold your head high and believe in yourself. You can do anything that you want.
When you get that job at the hospital later on down the road, remember to play hard to get. That guy that you are sooo intrigued by and so fascinated by, he’s really the one. Your intuition and instincts aren’t lying. For the first time in your life, you are dead on with your instincts. Go with them. But don’t give in too easily. He enjoys chasing you. So let him. Don’t be afraid to let your guard down, because he’s the only one that isn’t going to hurt you. Let him in. Say yes to that movie instead of pretending you are busy. Flirt. Trust me, it’s going to be the best decision you ever, ever made.
Stay in school. Even when you get married and find out your pregnant. Stay in class. You’re a strong woman. You’re great at multi-tasking. You’re going to figure it all out.
When the new baby gets here, when the doctor hands you that beautiful, precious, breathtaking gift from God…feel. Allow every single nerve and emotion in your body to be overwhelmed and overcome by the gift that has just been given to you. When you get so tired you think you’re going to pass out, or so ornery from the lack of sleep, or when you think you are about to go off the deep end, look at your Little Man and remember that he won’t be little forever. You’re going to blink and he’s going to be knocking on 2 years old and that time is gone forever.
More than anything, I would tell myself to s l o w d o w n and savor every single moment. Life flies by to quickly…the ones we love the most are gone the quickest; the moments that mean the most vanish instantly. You have an amazing husband a beautiful son waiting on you. Enjoy the road that leads you there. Your future is bright, even if the road you travel to get there is bumpy. You’re going to ultimately be glad you took it.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years. Most days I feel well beyond the ripe ole age of 23. Sometimes I feel like my life has taken courses that a lot of others my age never have had to endure. Dips, bumps and hurdles that most people don’t encounter. And that is ok with me. I’ve always been proud of my ability to handle life and the struggle that comes along. I’ve learned to push through and persevere. I hold my head up and meet adversity head on. All of the things I would tell younger me to do different are the very things that have made me who I am. While changing some things around in my life would have certainly made things a little bit easier, I honestly wouldn’t change them. They created character in me. They made me who I am. I guess that too, is one of the lessons of growing up.