If I could go back to my teenage self, I’d say many things. Here are a few:
– the after school childcare job will be the best life-changing decision you can make as a teen. You needed that discipline and a kick in the pants to become unselfish and focused. You needed to realize that your reputation is important and stepping through those security doors at Carroll Area Child Care Center and Preschool gave you direction.
– ditching the stereotypical high school click you were associated with took guts because you took a lot of slack for it, but you had to do what you had to do. It was a little late for your GPA, but you’ll surprise yourself with multiple degrees and certificates later on.
– your family will go through a tragedy mid-high school. Be prepared to take a lot of the control of your family dynamic and remember this will be a long process. Concentrate on your breathing. You can’t die if you’re still breathing. Some hope: this won’t define YOUR life, but it will define another’s and take a couple strangers’ away. Learn the importance of praying now. KEEP WRITING! Don’t zone out.
– you’ll stay in contact with very few friends from high school, but Brook turns into a kind of family your parents couldn’t give you. You’ll be her maid of honor and you will get a niece you love more than you thought possible, and a Scott who completes your best friend.
– school and your family are more important than your boyfriend… especially the one you are in love with right now. He’s a loser and you deserve so much better. This isn’t love.
– you’ll fall in love two more times and one breakup will be easier than the other. The length of your relationship doesn’t determine your true feelings. You fall fast with your college love, but the roller coaster will be the best and the worst you’ll ever feel.
– Elementary Education is not for you. Recognize how long you have been writing. Buy three binders and sheet protectors because you’ll need them to store your hundreds of poems you’ll write in middle and high school.
– Make sure you’re still late to Destination Iowa State because you’ll meet your college best friends there. Forget your high school boyfriend… he holds you back and blows it with your family during Thanksgiving. One strike too many. But don’t worry, your new friends will keep your spirits high, but you’ll get through it just fine.
– Captain Morgan and Dr. Pepper at Sigma Chi is not a good idea. Remember the night may seem to last forever, but it won’t.
– you’ll find that loving yourself is your top priority upon your college breakup. You and this man will both break in different ways and it will bond you for life on a level no other person will understand. You still (at 25) would take him back in a minute.
– your initiative will surprise you and you’ll gasp many times in amazing wonderstruck that THIS is your life. Live within these moments and forget the rest. You are successful.
– your heart palpitations are not hurting you. Don’t worry yourself sick. Caffeine still isn’t an option though. It’s healthier.
– you’ll love journalism at first because you write and edit for the Iowa State Daily newspaper, but soon you’ll encounter the bright light that is your true genre in Benjamin Percy’s advanced nonfiction creative writing class. Your memoir assignment will change your life. Believe you’re good.
– Apply to New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute in 2010… I know you’re tired of school but it will bring you the escape to your dreams. You will meet many of your lifelong best friends: Desire’e and Katie C.
– Pay more attention to Sterling Publishing at the NYU career fair because you’ll work for them in the best way possible and grow a friendship that you’re going to need while living so far from home. Throw paperclips at this friend and allow her to take you for walks in Madison Square Park during lunch breaks. Laugh all the time.
– Don’t hate on Iowa so much. It’s really beautiful once you get some perspective outside of it for awhile. Home is where your mom is not where the money is.
– Your life may seem dramatic and your teenage emotions are running wild, but I’m telling you… CALM DOWN and hug your mom more.
– Dad may seem distant and he is but as an adult, he’s really great. You’ll eventually see eye-to-eye on a few things. You two will finally put issues aside and actually talk. It just takes time.
– I don’t know what to tell you about our brother. I still don’t know what to say to myself. Pick and choose, is all I can say.
– Depend on Casey and Bryan for advice like you’re doing. Amelia will declare you sisters at age five. That bond is unbreakable even when your quarterly trips to Cincinnati turn into once every couple years. They save your dumb teenage life. Be thankful.
– I’m sorry to report that at 25 you’re still unmarried, back in school (again), and live alone. Actually I’m not sorry because everything you’ll do up until this point will get you here. You’ll celebrate being single because you’re a strong, independent, and happy woman. You’re becoming a teacher right now and you are teaching your first high school unit on journalistic feature writing. You’re LOVING it. You live alone because you’re an adult who likes to unwind after a long day in the quiet, not because you have no friends.
– you will always have friends.
– you will always have a supportive family.
– you’re still figuring it out and plan to kick some more ass to make it in this crazy world!
PS: I’m not telling you to change things nor telling you to “stop before you…” because you don’t live in regrets. Everything happens for a reason and you’re happy.