Sometimes a blog post haunts you. In a good way. When I turned 25 I didn’t have the gumption to write, 25 things I did this year, or 25 life lessons. I’m still (and always will) be in awe of Regina Brett’s 50 Life Lessons from when she turned 50 and I know I’m not quite there yet. Jessica over at JAMinCLE, wrote “26 Things I’d Tell Myself on my Sweet 16”. It’s hard to describe how I felt reading this list; happy because there’s someone else who understands where I was at when I was 16 and managed to become someone I relate to now. Below are Jessica’s 26 things (in pink!) with my commentary, to see her full explanations go here (which, I really, highly recommend.) I just found myself thinking about these things for over a week and how funny it would be to actually be able to tell my 16 year old self any of these:
1. I know you’re jazzed about getting your license, but be careful. Sixteen-year-old Katie, in four days from now, you will be driving during a thunderstorm. You will be behind a Toyota Highlander, the car in front of the Highlander will stop very suddenly, right in front of your destination, your church. Do not slam on the brakes- if you do, you will rear-end the SUV that is full of Girl Scout moms that you know, on their way to see a movie.
2. Be kind to your body, it’s beautiful and the only one you get! Seriously- I have no idea where these heel spurs came from but I imagine it had something to do with wearing converses all day, every day, between waitressing, skiing, rollerblading, and track.
3. Liking school and loving to learn IS actually cool. Just admit it, you like learning, and reading, and don’t be afraid to take AP courses, you’ll regret only taking one that got you college credit.
4. I know you’ve missed your sister while she’s been away at college, but you’ll get the chance to live with her again. At 16, I was not missing my sister because she’s four years younger than me. So I would tell my 16-self to try a little harder to get to know your sister because you’ll need each other later on.
5. Keep writing. Yes! Keep writing. You’ve been crazy/stupid to write a blog since you were in seventh grade, why stop now? Your writing will be your therapy. Don’t stop writing in college either. Take writing classes.
6. Your family will heal itself. Families are delicate. Try not to define who is family and who is not right now. Remember, people are capable of great love and great change and never give up.
7. Family first. Perhaps it’s when you want to run the farthest away from your family that they need you the most. They don’t understand your sarcasm, so stop trying to make sarcasm around them work. There’s a good chance you’ll still be learning this lesson well into your twenties.
8. Drink lots of water. I know you hate it, that won’t change. Even just eight glasses a day, your skin will thank you. Don’t wait until you’re 25 to realize that usually you’re not hungry like you think you are, just dehydrated.
9. Your dance moves will only continue to improve. Sure, you’re learning how to do the A-town Stomp and the Cleveland Shuffle right now, but only when you take a classical style dance class in college will you learn to appreciate it as an art.
10. Your empathy is your best quality or your worst quality, choose wisely. Your empathy will lead you down a dark path of trying to take care of others who don’t want to take care of themselves. Remember, you can’t care more about someone than they care about themselves.
11. Stop obsessing. Believe it or not, you will learn to like sleep, try to get a jump on that. Laying up at night and ruminating over things you wish you would have said or done differently will not make things better, it will make you worse.
12. “This too shall pass”, I promise. You often make mountains out of molehills, as mom will tell you, over and over again. Remember, when you feel anxious, or sad, or nothing, and like the feeling will never go away, it will. You’re in charge of your depression, so get in the sunlight or on a treadmill, like right now.
13. Taking a trip to NYC to celebrate graduation will be a great choice. I didn’t copy this word for word from Jessica, but I love that we both took trips to NYC senior year. I went during spring break and missed some other opportunities but got to be in NYC with one of the most compassionate people I know and enjoyed eating candy for dinner because we could and seeing The Producers, no beach could have topped that.
14. You’ll get big boobs. Well, big might set the bar too high, the good news is, you’ll get ‘em!
15. Don’t lose your sense of humor. But do be careful with it. Feel free to go wild with your cheesy, pun intended humor but reserve your biting, sarcastic humor for the right audience. Not everyone understands that your observations come out of love for the world around you. Don’t be afraid to always watch Daria.
16. Take your Dad’s advice. The door only swings one way. Show respect. When you’re given enough rope, don’t hang yourself with it.
17. You will never grow into your big feet. Or in my case, your skin will never magically clear up. It will always be a work in process as you change locations, lifestyles, water sources, etc. Be prudent.
18. There will be a monster hurricane that hits New Orleans as you begin your first week of college. It will haunt you and nag you. You will go on a church work trip the summer after your freshman year of college to help gut and fix houses down there. You will be leading the devotionals. You will find hope in dark, cockroach infested places.
19. Be authentic. Right now, it’s easy to know who you’re not and I know you’re having trouble finding out who you are. I’m glad we decided the dreadlocks weren’t for you. If you want to be a cheerleader who listens to ska music, just do it.
20. Fart jokes and people tripping or falling will still make you laugh 10 years from now. Okay, this doesn’t make you laugh now and it won’t in 10 years from now, but the man you love does enjoy this humor. It’ll make you smile and laugh to see him smile and laugh at this kind of stuff.
21. Trust your intuition. When your gut speaks, listen. If you think something’s going on that you don’t know about, there is. Don’t be afraid to trust common sense, that wouldn’t hurt either at this point.
22. Everyone grieves differently, be kind to yourself. You’ve been really lucky up to this point about not feeling you’ve lost someone before their time. This will not be the case in a few years. In fact, you haven’t even met the first person to go before his time. Appreciate every day you’re given.
23. Your Mom always encouraged you to appreciate the simple beauty, the awe of nature, the creativity of art, and the magnificence of ancient architecture. Okay, so this isn’t exactly your mom, but don’t be afraid to ask her for help in the art side of the world. It turns out she’s taken photography and drawing classes; she isn’t so shabby. Embrace your Mom’s fear of color and love her for it. It wouldn’t kill you to tone down the color once in a while.
24. She’s a good egg and will stick by you through the best of times and worst of times. For this, it means the person you celebrate your 16th birthday with. You will be at Shan’s house, working on memorizing Catullus and a presentation on the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. You’ve known her since first grade but are only now re-discovering the playful, emotional, loving relationship you have with her. Rosemary will make you burgers for your birthday dinner. This will be on of your favorite memories. You will cherish it. Rosemary will be the second person you feel you’ve lost too soon. Take no hug or warm welcome for granted. Shan will follow her heart to Cincinnati, Boston, and then New York- support her.
25. You’ll start a blog when you’re 24. It will revolutionize your world. Well, you’ll start a blog (your sixth?) when you’ve finally settled into the big kid world and it will continue to challenge you. It will help others reach out to you and help you reach other. Having an online journal will be a whole world in ten years. Tread lightly.
26. Your journey is unfolding exactly as it should be. Whatever hurdles you’re going over, walls you’re running into, doors that are closing, are happening for a reason. Over time you will find yourself saying, “I would have never imagined myself here but I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”