Old Me Tells Young Me What’s What

I follow SoulPancake on Facebook because its content is always happy and funny and deep and I like that kind of stuff, ya know? It’s a great change from the political bickering and humblebragging you usually see there. Plus, it takes the sting out of the daily looming threat that our president might possibly start WWIII. The other day they posted this as their status:

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I though to myself, aw, that’s sweet. What would I tell wee little five year old me? 12 year old me? Teenager me? Really, what I’d like to do is prepare young me for the whole shebang. I made some mistakes, which is bound to happen as a human. I got a perm when I was a teenager. My twenties were some prime perky boob, thin waisted days and yet I dressed like I was a sister wife. My thirties, for the most part, were pretty easy. Even though, I worried. My lord, I worried more than any human should be allowed. I let the fear consume me and failed to savor the joy. What a pity. So, I’m gonna set that chick straight and let her know what’s what.

Dear Me,

Hey, girl, hey. What’s going on? Just a little note from the future. Thought I might have a little one sided chat with you. See, lots of things are about to happen in your life. Don’t fret. You’re going to get through it, as you always have. I just thought I might warn you about a few things so you don’t freak the hell out and panic about it when it happens. I mean, you’re going to panic anyway because that’s just the way you are, but perhaps you might panic just a tiny bit less?

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Class of ’91, represent! They made me wear that ostrich pelt. Don’t hate.

I’m going to be frank, those teen years are going to be very hard. Your mother and sister will pass away before you’re even licensed to drive, but you’ll have some good friends that’ll stand by you. Some you will remain friends with you to this day. They heal your broken heart. You’ll get that unfortunate perm. It will be forever captured in your senior portrait, but, even though you’re kinda dorky, you will lose your virginity and it won’t suck, so there’s that.

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For the life of me, I don’t remember who this guy was, but you’ve got to appreciate that we are both sporting some pretty high waisted jeans.

At age 20 you’re going to see snow for the very first time! You’re also going to experience another first – TEQUILA. This might be the hardest lesson you’ve ever learned in your life. You’re going to take six (yes, SIX) shots of tequila one snowy night while visiting your friend at college. At first, you’re going to think to yourself, I got this, but it’s going to take a very dark turn that will involve you facedown on the floor of a mediocre pizza joint. Luckily, your friends will take care of you and carry you through the snow and let you hang your head over the edge of some girl’s bed while you puke into a bucket over and over and over again. It will be a long damn time before you ever touch tequila again. Smart girl.

Not long after this, you’re going to get married. Yeah, you’re like super young, just 20 years old. One day you’re going to have a twenty year old daughter and you’re going to look at her and say to yourself, how in the holy hell did I get married that young? It’s ok, it works out pretty well with the exception of the fact that you make the unfortunate choice to wear white pantyhose on the day you get hitched. You elope and even though everyone gives you grief for that decision, you never regret not having a big ceremony.

This is who you marry:

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Relax, you don’t marry him at this age. You’re not some kind of pervert. This is just a picture of him as a young kid. Pay attention to the look on his face.

See that look on his face? It’s kind of pain and annoyance with just a dash of fear. You’re going to be getting that look from him a lot while you’re married. About 55% of the time you deserve it because you’re a little bit of a pain in the ass. The other 45% of the time is completely unjustified because while you’re a pain in the ass, you’re not THAT MUCH of a pain in the ass and also, you can cook really well. That covers a multitude of sins. He’s sometimes difficult. You’re sometimes difficult. Marriage is sometimes difficult, but you deal with it.

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You’re going to see Jimmy Buffett in concert, but don’t worry. You don’t become a Parrothead! It’s a one and done kind of thing.

You’re going to become a mother for the first time in your twenties. You’re going to absolutely freak the hell out over everything and think you’re doing it all wrong, but in the end you manage to bring a human being to adulthood. She’s pretty spectacular, too. If I could do it all over again, I’d lighten up and not fixate on trying to be the perfect mother. I’d laugh more. Laughter is the thing that’s going to get you through. You’d be wise to cultivate that skill when you’re young.

After you become a mother it gets a little dicey. You get evicted from your apartment when your baby is just a few months old and you never think you’re ever going to get through it, but you do and you do it with the help of some people who remain supportive of you and your family to this very day. You spend the second half of your twenties trying to build up what you have. That husband of your gets his master’s degree and gets a decent job. Eventually, you buy a house and put down roots.

There’s a reason why I wish I laughed more when I was younger. Most of your thirties go pretty well. You even have another kid and he’s pretty spectacular as well. It’s a really good time, until the end. At 39 you find a lump in your hip and you have your very first MRI, but the results are not what you hope for. It’s going to be one of those few times in your life where you really feel as though you may die from a broken heart. You won’t. I promise. What you’re going to do is find out what your made of.

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“Abnormal mass” are words you never want to read on an MRI report.

That MRI report is the beginning of some scary and confusing years for you. They are years that are going to break you physically, emotionally, and especially financially. The one thing that you will take away from this experience is that time is not promised to you. If you waste those precious moments on worry and perfection and trying to fix everyone’s everything you will miss it all. You’ll look back and ask yourself why you didn’t do all those things that you could have done.

The great thing is you can change this, and you start to in your forties. You realize that every day you’re alive is a day you can decide to be more spontaneous, more joyful, more silly, more appreciative. As long as you don’t forget that, you’re going to be okay. And, you ARE going to be okay.

Love,

Me

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