Blog creator, Jessica, answers: “What would you tell your younger self?”

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baby me

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…

Dear Jessie,

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%.

Love, Jessica.

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.

Do you want to create social change?

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Check out Girls For A Change.  I just came across this website and this program rocks.  Click on the Where We Are tab to see if there is a program in your state!

When I was at the University of Arizona, I was part of a group of high school and college students who were able to help make a social change.  We chose to combat discrimination in our area.  The foundation we were a part of gave us $50,000 to help fund any programs that we thought lined up with our mission to combat discrimination.  We ended up helping five different programs by giving them each $10,000.  It was so rewarding to be a part of something positive for my community.

If Girls For A Change isn’t in your area, look for other programs that promote positive social change.  Think on your own personal level, what can I do to create social change?  First, think of a social issue around you.  What injustices do you witness?  Is there something that a friend or family member has gone through that bothered you?  Next, think of why that issue exists.  How can you change it?  Do you need to start at a small level or can you do something big?  Look for groups at your school or programs for youth in your area.  See if you can join up with others who support your cause and get going!  Remember, just standing up for something that you believe in can create change.  Good luck!

…I’d tell her to greet each day with an upbeat attitude.

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There are days when we’re all tired, but what is the difference in energy output between being positive and being sour?  I would tell you that from my experience, I spend much more energy trying to maintain a negative demeanor than being positive.  It takes little effort to smile and welcome the day (and the chores it entails) with an open heart.  In a good mood, I can accomplish many things and feel good about it.  In a sour mood, I will most likely mope through my chores, expending more energy on slumping around and complaining while bringing everyone I encounter down with me.

We are all in control of our own moods.  We can choose to be happy or miserable.  Granted, there are things that can bring us back to grumpy if we’re not careful.  Perhaps it is waking up to a sink full of dishes, getting stuck in traffic, or realizing as you pull up to the yoga studio that there’s a huge hole in the crotch of your stretchy pants (I am speaking from experience on that one).  In all of the instances we have a choice.  I am not perfect, but I try to choose to not let little things ruin my day.  In the event of finding a hole in my pants that did not leave much to the imagination during hot yoga, I opted to laugh about it and go into the class anyway.  I modified some of the poses to keep myself modest, but I didn’t let it take my focus off of the class because hey, I don’t know if you’ve been to hot yoga, but there are a lot of short shorts on men in there so it kind of evened out.

Another great reason to not be a downer is because it’s contagious.  I don’t want to cross paths with someone muttering under their breath about their shallow woes.  I was getting a tea at Tim Horton’s yesterday and the woman taking drive-through orders became upset with a customer.  So she looked at me, rolled her eyes, and grumbled something with exasperation.  Look, I get that you’re upset lady but no reason to bring me into it.  I don’t want to be your source for venting; I just want a honey lemon tea.  Thank you and goodbye.

One place depressing moods seem to spread quickly is through facebook status updates.  I understand that it’s a place to post your innermost thoughts and you can be as deep as you want, but frankly, I prefer to keep it light.  If you are looking for support from your friends, please don’t post, “My life sucks.  I’m failing school, my boyfriend cheated on me, I crashed my car, and mom made spaghetti…again.”  If you want to talk to your friends about serious stuff (ok, so maybe the spaghetti thing wasn’t that serious), call them.  Text them.  Email them.  Keep it private.  There are some things that are better kept in a small circle.  It really isn’t helping to vent on a public forum like facebook.  Your true friends are the ones who want to help you and you should talk to them in person.  The other 500 acquaintances that are listed as “friends” on facebook just became innocent bystanders of a drive-by status update.

Good moods are contagious, too, and a much better thing to catch than some snooty-la-la-sour-doodle’s mood.   Smile at the Tim Horton’s cashier when she gets crabby.  Tell your friend that her mom may have made spaghetti again but at least she’s not allergic to tomatoes.  Get people to laugh.  Light-heartedness and laughter are proven to improve your health because biologically we want to spend our lives happy.  So let’s make the choice to be happy.  I’ll start and by singing “These Dreams” by Heart while I do the giant mound of dishes that are currently sitting in my sink.  Trust me, it’s a catchy tune.  Have a happy day!