About a year and a half ago I was at my mom's house and saw a picture of myself. It was a picture of my much younger self. I was 18. I was preparing for graduation. I had a boyfriend. I had a job. I had plans. I knew stuff. Almost everything. I was ready.
That picture started me thinking about what I wish I had known then. The things I've learned I've since learned...in the school of hard-knocks. Things I've learned by hurting others. By being hurt by others.
It's now 16 years later. I'm...not 18. The building where my graduation ceremony was held is in the process of being torn down. The boyfriend is now my husband. I have a job-but I don't get paid in money. Plans? What plans? I "plan" to make it through today! I know nothing. Almost nothing.
As corny and cheesy as it sounds I started thinking "What would I tell that girl if I had the chance to talk to her?" I would tell that girl a lot of things. The thing is, she wouldn't listen. She would have to learn things on her own. Like most young people. Like my children. I wish I could take all the life's lessons I've learned since I walked into an auditorium to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance with hundreds of other kids just like me who knew everything and put them in a book for my children. But my life experiences wouldn't be the same as theirs. And if they listened, they would look at me in the way that someone looks at someone they feel sorry for "You poor, poor, dear fool. If only you knew that I would never fall prey to the pitfalls you fell to. I know everything."
So, some things I've learned since those days.
1. Bad things happen to good people. It's okay. There isn't some profound reason for everything that happens to you. I had a miscarriage. I searched for the "whys"...what had I done to "deserve" this BAD thing? The answer? Nothing. Bad things just happen. And I'm so glad we don't always get what we deserve. **shudder**
2. Life isn't "fair". And that's okay too.
3. This too shall pass. If you're going through a bad time...it will, most likely, pass. And you'll go through other bad times too, but stuffed in the middle of the bad times will be lots and lots of good times.
4. No one can complete you. You have to be complete. Just you and God. And you have to be willing to let it be just you and God. If you depend on someone else to fulfill you they will be overwhelmed. And you will be disappointed.
5. Enjoy every stage of your life. I know I spent every year before I was married (which wasn't too many) wishing I was. Then I spent my newlywed days wishing I could be pregnant. Then I spent my pregnancies wishing I had my babies, and so on and so forth. Enjoy each stage. The good, the bad and the ugly.
6. Do NOT judge others. Unless you want to be judged in the same way. You don't know where someone is coming from in life. They may not have had the advantages you've had (even if you've had very few, you have had more than someone out there).
7. Do not assume you cannot fall. You can. And if you have been under the (wrong) impression that you can't...the fall will be HARD. It will hurt. Badly. And you will be embarrassed-even if no one saw.
8. Thin/pretty/athletic....should not be "who" you are. All of those things can (and probably will) fade. I used to be thin. Really. I know it's hard to believe now, but I did. But if you let that define who you are...what happens when you aren't?
9. Enjoy life. But only to the extent that you can be comfortable with how you enjoy it. And your right to enjoy life ends where someone else's life begins. If that makes sense. Your "enjoyment" cannot be at someone else's expense. This is especially true if it hurts your family. And super-duper especially true if it hurts your children. They didn't ask to be here.
10. Don't worry so much about what others think (other than the hurting others thing). If you live your life crippled by what others might think of you you'll miss out on a lot. Only to find out that really others don't think about you (or notice you) nearly as much as you think they do.
And I'll leave you with some words of wisdom...
Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. and you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go. ...
and when things start to happen, don't worry. Don't stew...
I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you....
Dr. Seuss! Oh, The Places You'll Go