I just wanted to say that I am feeling euphoric from the last few weeks with family and friends, including an adorable baby, a hilarious cousin, fun-loving parents, supportive in-laws, a loving husband, cuddly dogs, and amazing friends! Went to see my two friends in their last show ever with their band last night and feel-good feelings were flowing. Thanks to everyone for being a blessing in my life.
I guess it is my turn. I have had a few entries over the last year that women in my life have submitted under this category of “What would you tell your younger self?” This thought for me is constantly changing. It is usually shaped by whatever I am going through at the time or certain things I have observed. My life experiences have varied and I have been a witness to happenings that even as little as five years ago I could have never imagined. Therefore, let me say that by no means is this all of the advice I could give to my younger self, but it is what I feel I can share today. I hope that through this blog and through what I have written below, you can find comfort, similarity in your life or that of a friend and feel like you are not alone. I do not think that I live with regrets, but if I was given the chance to change a few things, I think I would. I have faith that I was destined to be wher
e I am today and that I am destined to be wherever I am at the end of my life, so I do not worry that changing things in my past will have affected my end result like some people do. I am happy with where I am and I am so blessed with those in my life. And so I begin with a letter to myself…
You always thought about what it would be like to be 27 years old, but you never could really picture it. You thought you would be married, which you are, and you thought you would have kids, which you don’t. The only person you really pictured yourself as at this age was Barbie, and well…you were a little off, but that’s ok!
There are some things I wish I could have told you, but it’s a little late for that. Instead, I will share these tidbits in the hopes that someone else might feel a connection and take something from what I have to say. But don’t worry Jessie, you are doing just fine and those you love and look up to are still standing by you, 100%.
What I would tell my younger self:
-Everything mom and dad told you was right! I know you have to learn for yourself, but remember that there is a good reason (or two!) that they say the things they do.
-Be happy you don’t look like everyone else. Here are some compliments people will give you about those odd little things you are not sure you appreciate: “I love that you have these moles (pointing to my shoulder, chest and upper lip). I like them.” (friend in high school); “You have the best neck.” (husband); “You remind me of a young Ingrid Bergman. You have the same sparkle in your eye.”(shuttle driver in California); “You’re thick in a good way.'” (athlete at school). Some of those compliments may seem silly, but everyone appreciates something different so be you and let people figure out why you’re great on their own.
-Never sell yourself short. In high school, you let school take a back seat to your social life. Frankly, looking back, I think you could’ve had a social life, played sports and still earned straight A’s.
-Don’t let one thing, like having a boyfriend, run your life and forget about everything or everyone else. The first person you date will most likely not be your last!
-Friends always want to be there for you. Let them. Be loyal to them and never say anything about someone behind their back that you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to their face.
-Be kind. Always. Remember how it hurts when others tease you. Don’t take for granted that you have supports – seek out lonely people and befriend them.
-Drinking can be fun, but so can not drinking. Know your limit so that you stay true to yourself…and thank God facebook and twitter did not exist when you were in middle and high school.
-Do not dress for others to notice you. Dress for yourself. Your skirt does not need to be shorter and your tops do not need to be tighter. The right boys will notice you for you – not how much skin you show.
-Don’t lie to your parents.
-Respect your teachers and your coaches. Even if you don’t agree with everything they say or do, respect them. ***Side note – I never disrespected my parents by yelling at them or belittling them. When I see kids talk back rudely, curse or act condescendingly to their parents (I am talking about good, kind, appropriate parents) it makes me feel sick. Do NOT do that to your mom and dad. It does not make you cool and it will not get you very far in life to treat others like that. You can never replace family so don’t push them away.
-Don’t be afraid to be silly!
-Dance at the school dances.
-Throw “the rules” out the window! If you want to go out with someone, ask them. If you want to dance with someone, ask them. The worst that can happen is they say, “no,” and you move on. Don’t wait around for someone to call you – if you want to talk to them, call them!
-Hug your friends when you see them, and hug them goodbye if you want to. Everyone wants to feel wanted. Show them you’re happy they showed up and that you can’t wait to see them again.
-Tell people what’s on your mind. If you want someone to know how they make you feel, tell them. If you want to tell someone that you are proud of them, tell them! No one can read minds and it feels so good when someone let’s you know something intimate like how you’ve impacted their life.
-Do not live in fear.
-Make decisions that you can be proud of.
-Know that when things don’t go the way you planned, everything will still be ok. You are who you are, and you can do anything.
-Make yourself indispensable in everything you do. Work hard and you will be noticed.
-Don’t doubt yourself and always trust your gut feeling.
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
-Don’t forget that you are loved.
I started to go through an old notebook this morning and came across a list I made of things I wanted to do that were outside of my comfort zone. Since I moved to a new city (and country, for that matter) after marrying my husband, Rick, everything is a new experience. Some I welcomed, and some I shied away from for too long. I realized this summer that we were approaching our second anniversary, which made me look at what I had and hadn’t accomplished for myself in a new place in that time. I made a goal to do one thing that was new, either with someone else or by myself, each week. I hoped that it would help me learn more about my surroundings and meet new people. I really haven’t made many friends outside of our family, and I was hoping that by doing new things I would meet new people.
Side note: Have you ever moved somewhere new and realized that trying to make friends as an adult is much like dating? For example: I met someone at a bar, a friend of a friend, and we had such a great time talking and hanging out. Then I found myself panicking: how do I ask her for her number? What if she doesn’t want to hang out? She probably has enough friends already, why would she want another? Then, say I do ask for her number in my most care-free way and she gives it to me. When is it appropriate to call? Should I even call, or just send a text? Do I ask her to hang out on our own, or must I invite the friend that introduced us? Would she be more comfortable in a group setting? I haven’t been in the dating scene for five years yet I feel all of the same anxieties that I used to feel! (I am laughing as I write this because it all sounds so ridiculous, but it’s true!) Making friends is hard! I am an outgoing person, but I have become more introverted with each year and a little more shy. I had plenty of friends growing up, but making friends when you’re a child seems so much simpler (mostly because our parents are the ones who really dictate plans with our new friends). I also lived in the same place my whole life and had friends in college who were in my kindergarten class years before, so I really didn’t have to strive to meet new people in college. I did have new college friends who were awesome, but I always had my really fun childhood friends, too, which was a safety blanket, I guess. So, I haven’t made as many new friends as I was hoping by this point, but I am still working on it…but I digress.
So, when I found the list of goals I had made this summer, I read the list over and was pleasantly surprised that I had done five of the things on the list without really consciously thinking about them. I went to a hot yoga class by myself (several now, in fact), I have explored downtown where I live (by myself and with others), I started a book club (we are on our second book), I attended a new church (several!), and I have explored Toronto more (after all, it’s only an hour train ride and big cities are so cool!). The feeling of excitement and pride for having done some of the things that I was putting off because of fear or nerves still floods me as I re-read the list and see check-marks next to those five things. I have to say, that with fall in full-force now (the leaves have almost all fallen to the ground, it has been raining for weeks, and I have switched from a light jacket to my down-jacket), it is nice to have something to brighten my day and make me feel good about myself.
There are still things on the list that I would like to do. I think I will re-write them and add to it, and this time I will put the list where I can see it daily. Or, maybe not. Maybe I should tuck it away again so that when I find it in a few months I can check off lots of items. Perhaps if it was in front of me everyday I would feel like it was daunting because I would see all of the things that are outside of my comfort zone; maybe I should pick one goal and display it until I do it then put up a new one. I don’t know. Whatever I decide, I just hope to keep doing new things and adding check marks to my list. I do feel much more confident in my surroundings and I don’t feel lost for ideas anymore when friends and family come to visit. I actually know a few things around town to do! And, dare I say, I have made some new friends! I even got two phone numbers last night :o) Now, should I text or call…ha ha!
Yes it is scary acknowledging the things that make us uncomfortable (writing the list). Yes, sometimes you have to be willing to try the things on your own and hope for the best (for me, a GPS was incredibly helpful!). Take it from me, it is worth it. The anxiety that I had to explore new places on my own, or step into a yoga class by myself and sit in (gasp!) the front row, seem so small now since I have actually done these things.
Sometimes we have to nudge ourselves off of the “cliff” to realize that we were only standing on a curb. So make a list for yourself. What is something you want to do, but fear or anxiety has been holding you back? Simply putting that thing in writing is the first step toward doing it. Life is short, so we should take advantage of the time we have by not letting nerves run our lives. Step outside of your comfort zone and relish in all that new experiences have to offer you. You might just have fun!
Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em? Yes you can live without them!
Listen, I was the perfect example of a girl who pined away for a boyfriend ever since my first true crush in fifth grade. I was not the girl getting “asked out” (AKA-asked to be someone’s girlfriend) and I had to sit idly by and watch all of my friends have boyfriends…granted sometimes it was only for 30 minutes! Some of my friends went out with boys that they knew I had a crush on and I let it affect me way too much. First of all, friendships should not end because of a boy, and I am proud to say that none of mine ever have. My relationships with friends always came first because I have great friends who I trust completely. If one of them told me my boyfriend was scum, I would listen (even if it still took me a while to totally grasp the concept and dump the guy). :o) Once, a boy that I thought I was in love with in high school asked my best friend to Winter Formal. She told him she had to think about it and called me first. She didn’t want to go with him because she didn’t want to hurt me. I insisted that she go, though, because I knew deep down that even if she told him no, he still might not ask me and then both he and my friend would be unhappy. So she went, but not until I swore to her that it was ok with me. She also knew that great friendships always come first.
Any who, back to fifth grade. I had the biggest crush on *Emilio (*if I’m going to change someone’s name for their privacy I might as well make it Latino). :o) Emilio was everything I could want in an eleven year old. He was funny, kind, cared about his grades and he dominated the flag football field, which was perfect because I was a tom-boy and needed a guy who was strong. He and I were no doubt friends and we could talk to each other without getting shy or weirded out. But I was dying inside for him to LIKE-like me. You all get the difference between liking someone and LIKE-liking them, right? I even wrote about us holding hands in my diary. (It was because the rules in “Medic” dodgeball were that you had to hold hands with someone to get them safely across the mid-line after freeing them from jail, but still! He held my hand! Isn’t that what silly girl dreams are made of?) Well I crushed on poor Emilio for about three years. I asked him out several times, and even though he always said no, he always made up some nice excuse so he wouldn’t hurt my feelings and damage our friendship. My favorite was, “Well I like someone else right now, but ask me again in a few months.” He always allowed me to keep hope alive! Haha–I am hoping you can detect my sarcasm on some of this!
Sidebar–this brings me to another good point that my dad taught me growing up. If you want something, go after it. If I ask a boy out, what is the worst that can happen? He can say, “No.” Can I deal with that? Yes. Not really a big deal in the scheme of things. So I wasn’t afraid to ask a boy out and I never have been. If I wanted to talk to a boy on the phone, I called them. I wasn’t going to wait around for them to call me, because I knew that even if they wanted to call me they most likely were going to be too gun-shy to pull the trigger and do it. Do you want to know where this really worked for me and makes me so glad that I took my dad’s awesome advice and just went for it? School dances and DJ parties. I was not the girl who stood in a circle of friends HOPING that someone would ask me to dance. If I saw someone I wanted to dance with, I asked them as soon as the beat of a slow-jam started to play over the speakers. And do you know what? They almost always said yes. The only time a boy said no it was because he had already promised that dance to someone else, but he kept true to his word and danced with me at the next song. Thank God I asked people to dance and could go home feeling like I was walking on the ceiling instead of regretting that I didn’t seize the moment and go after what I wanted. I hope that you can find the courage to do the same!
Back to boys. Emilio and I have been friends all through school, and although we never dated each other, I did give my fifth grade self what she always hoped for during my first night at college. Emilio and I were celebrating our first night away from home with a bunch of friends and he kissed me that night. Nothing came of it because we didn’t want to be in a relationship (well, I guess I am speaking for him, but I definitely didn’t want a boyfriend with all the fish in the sea of college that I was about to swim through). It just felt good and it was something that I think we had both always wanted to do. After that kiss, the little eleven-year-old tom boy inside of me smiled and walked on the ceiling for a while because after waiting seven years, she got what she wanted.
I guess my point is this: it is a waste of time to pine away for boys. I know you’ve probably heard it all before, but it’s true. They are SO not as mature as we are! And, they really don’t know what they want until sometimes, it is too late. You should spend your time dreaming of the future and your personal goals for yourself. Enjoy having a crush but don’t let it consume you. I was convinced that I would never have a boyfriend, even though I had noticed that boys were paying me more attention in high school. Yes they talked to me and sometimes I could tell they were “checking me out” but none of them were acting on it! So I came to the conclusion that I was un-dateable. Then, my junior year of high school, it all changed. I went on dates, got my first kiss, had my very first boyfriend and it was all over from there. Once I opened the door to dating, I could never seem to get it closed again! Maybe my confidence went up and more people found that attractive or maybe it was just timing. Whatever it was, the only time I didn’t have a date or boyfriend is when I chose not to have one. This will happen to everyone single one of you! Just when you think you’ll never be kissed or get asked to a dance, you’ll blink and suddenly be beating boys off with a stick. I promise. So, like I said, pining away is a time-waster and does no good. Your day will come, and then you’ll find yourself saying things like, “I just don’t want a boyfriend right now, Tommy. I’m sorry. I hope you understand and can stop IM-ing me as soon as I sign on,” or, “I just need to be single at this time in my life, Pedro. Good luck with the election, though.” Get it?
It is unfortunate how we can draw conclusions about ourselves based on what boys tell us or do/don’t do to us. They are just boys! They are living their own lives trying to understand girls. Which, again, I reiterate going after you want because sometimes the person you want to ask out wants the same thing but isn’t as brave as you are, so go for it! At least if they say, “no”, you can move on (in my case, it took me three years, but I did move on from Emilio). Find comfort in your friends and family, and enjoy your present life. Don’t change yourself into something that you think someone else wants you to be. I was a total tom-boy and probably the opposite of what guys were looking for, but I never tried to change that about myself. To this day I say things that sound like they should come out of a sailor’s mouth and I can turn a mean double-play in co-ed softball, but I have a husband who loves me for it, and more importantly, I love ME for it.
Hang in there and enjoy your life because before you know it, you’ll be wondering where the time went and trying to find that stick so you can keep the boys back.