Monday was my oldest daughter's 16th birthday! As a parent you start to think, wow how do I slow down time? Am I doing a good job raising these crazy kids?
After all the anxiety wears off you start to get nostalgic. You think about when you were their age, all the memories of high school. So then it got me thinking about what I would tell myself if I could go back in time. You know, just like that Brad Paisley song, "Letter to Me". I think it would be pretty cool to give myself some advice, both as a teen, college student and young parent/adult.
As I was laying in bed thinking about all this, thoughts came flooding into my head (and like we all do, too tired/lazy to get up and write them all down, you lay there, fall asleep and then struggle the next morning to remember them!). My oldest comes to me about anything and everything, boy trouble, friend trouble, school problems, you name it we talk about it. And every time I find myself saying "Well in high school I did...and I would of done...."
I was very involved in high school. I was a cheerleader, gymnast, played girls soccer for 2 years, was in a dance company outside of school at a private studio, joined clubs when I could and I had to study hard to keep up my grades. I loved being a part of so many groups, it guaranteed I had a friend every where. But I really did wear myself out! Over scheduling was bad, and the worse part, I have never stopped! I still to this day over schedule myself!
I walked the straight and narrow, followed all rules and was afraid to get in trouble! Yes, all my friends went to parties on the weekends, me, however, stayed home. I preferred it. Looking back I have definitely been an introvert my whole life. But I think I would of forced myself to join my friends every now and then, just to see what it was all about. Come Monday mornings at school I listened to all the stories. My friends never once judged me or made fun of me for being, well me, but I think I would tell myself to have a little more fun!
Stick with it, hard or not. I use to run away from hard, I tended to get frustrated very easily and run from the problems. I went to college to be a math teacher, saw the teaching program was 5 years so dropped it. I stuck with a Math major until I got frustrated in 1 class and changed my major to accounting. Let's just say, I ended up after 4.5 years in school with a double major in math and accounting, worked as an accountant for about 6 months, a math teacher for 7 years and now I am a small business owner. Lesson learned, do what you love, frustration or not!
I think one of the most important lessons I would tell my younger self, a any age, is to not care about what others think. I had a hard time with this growing up. I was a gymnast and body image was everything. I struggled with weight problems in high school and college. I counted calories, worked out way to much and was always concerned with how people saw me. My husband knew all this (remember we went to high school together) and to this day he continues to watch me. We only have a scale in the house as long as I don't become obsessed with the numbers. Because of my struggles I have made it a point to teach my kids to be who they are, God created them and to accept it. Numbers on a scale, images in a mirror aren't going to change it. Forget society and be yourself.
Be happy! This goes for every aspect in life. No matter what, be happy! Life is short, decisions are hard, things and people will try (and will) bring you down. Don't let them. Before any decision, think about the outcome. Always, choose to be happy!
Be selfish! It's ok to look out for yourself and only yourself. Learn to say no. You don't have to do everything, it's not always in your best interest. Learn to be selfish and take care of yourself.
Enjoy every moment! Especially as a parent. All the screaming and yelling, snuggles and hugs. Enjoy it. Set the anxiety aside, set the stress, slow down time and enjoy it. Time flies, kids grow too fast and all you soon have are memories. Enjoy it while you can!
As I sit and type this I could go on forever! It's not that I made terrible mistakes, it's just that I did it right. I made decisions and lived life and learned from everything that I did. So maybe instead of a letter to my younger self, this should be more like lessons I've learned from life. I talk with parent's all the time about their kids heading off to college. Most of my friends are terrified of letting their kids leave, live on their own and not being able to watch over them day and night. Me, I'm excited for my kids. Don't get me wrong, I will miss them like crazy! But I want them to live. College is when we make wrong decisions, and learn from them. We become who we are by the decisions and reactions we make. But isn't that what life is all about. We live, learn and move on. We are struggling first time parents, a little better second time and by the time the third (or more) come along we are pro's. We live and learn!
So what would you tell your younger self...or better yet, what great life lessons have you learned from your life ride?