Most people say this about high school, or university; but there are a plethora of moments in my life where I sometimes wish I could go back and get a do over, or offer myself some advice.
Last week, while I was catching up on bloggers, I came across this post by Rebecca @Life As A Dare, where she offered up 18 pieces of advice to her younger sister about what she wish she'd known at 18.
I LOVE this idea, so I've decided to steal it, but also to make it my own a bit. Below are letters to myself at different ages; some offer words of wisdom and encouragement, some highlight my (many) insecurities, and some show reflections and regrets... Some I don't have photos for because digital cameras weren't a thing yet.
So without further ado...
Dear 5 year old self,
Hey there kiddo! This is going to be a big year! You're going to meet a group of people who you will be spending the next 13 years of your life with; a life long friend (who will help you dig holes in the backyard); a girl who you will travel to Europe with; the first boy you will slow dance with; the girl who will ultimately decide how "cool" you are allowed to become by not inviting you to her birthday.
You're also going to lose some teeth. This is not as scary, or as painful, as you seem to think it is EACH AND EVERY TIME. That one tooth is hanging BY A THREAD, you can spin it the whole way around! Let mom pull it out, it's seriously gross.
Dear 7 year old self,
That life long friend I mentioned? Well she's a tomboy and plays soccer with the boys, and so will you. I know that this is hard for you because you're not very physically aware yet. I'm sorry. And I'm sorry they put you in net every time, and then yell at you when the other team scores.
It is NOT your fault that the other team has scored. You're about 4 ft, tall in a regulation sized net. Soccer is a team sport. If it got past you it also got past everyone else on the team first.
I'm sorry it will take you until you're 20 to realize this.
I'm especially sorry those boys are making you cry and that even in to your 20s you will refuse to play soccer with friends due to this hang up. Kids are the worst.
Dear 12 year old self,
I know that you are falling in love with the Harry Potter book series but PLEASE, pleasepleaseplease take better care of that first book! It's got a rare, misprinted cover that they are going to change in a few weeks! Stop letting your pet bird chew on the pages!
Dear 15 year old self,
Another big year! You're going to start dating your first real boyfriend. Do me a favor though and dump him the moment you realize he's left you on a train platform at 12:45am and gone home with his friends, not realizing you'd missed the train. He's a stupid tool, and you deserve better.
You're also going to meet your best friend this year! She's real important. You're going to be involved in just about every major aspect of each others lives from here on out, from feeling like family to actually being family. I know you're weirdly offended that she didn't invite you to her 16th birthday party, but you've only known her for about 3 days; get over it. I promise you'll have forgiven her long before you're the Maid of Honour at her wedding.
Also; don't quit field hockey, even though you spent all fall with a cold because you were out playing in a skirt. You LOVE this game, and you're good at it! Shake off those bruises and keep playing, you'll regret quitting after one year.
Dear 16 year old self,
I don't want to alarm you, but this is one of those significant years that you will look back on as a turning point in your life. Four things are going to happen to you this year:
1) You're going to travel to Europe for 6 weeks, seeing and learning more in that time than you ever will again (trust me). Embrace every moment, get to know more people on the trip better (except that one girl... you know the one... you should not trust her as far as you can throw her)
2) You're going to join your high school improv team... And make some of the best friends of your life. These people will save you on your darkest days and make you happy in ways you cannot yet imagine. You'll see the world with them, go to the cottage with them, bake, laugh, cry, drink excessively, share secrets with, and ultimately love them to the moon and back (even when they drive you crazy).
Also, I know it's confusing why Jamie seems into you and not into you at the same time. He's gay, that's what that is; you'll figure that out by the end of high school and be very relieved about understanding your friendship.
And speaking of men...
3) You're going to fall in love this year! Real, honest, 16 year old love. You're going to be one of those couples that win's "cutest" in the year book... and that ultimately crash and burn. I'm sorry your heart hurts, but it's nothing more than that you're 16 and neither of you know what you're doing. Besides, it doesn't matter because...
4) You're going to meet the love of your life. Yep. At the aforementioned best friend's family Christmas party, she'll introduce you to her cousin Kris. I promise you he won't notice that you just turned as red as a stop light, or that you're mumbling incoherent nonsense all night around him (even though you have a boyfriend right now!). I know you're going to get home and just feel SO uncool. I PROMISE, he didn't notice... in fact it's going to take him another 10 years and a heck of a lot of alcohol to figure out what's going on. You'll be much cooler then anyway, wait it out.
Dear 18 year old self
Get involved at University. I know you're feeling too cool for school, and that between driving back and forth to see your boyfriend, hanging out with friends and classes you're feeling like you don't have the time. You do.
Plus, those friends will prove disappointing, the boyfriend doubly so, and you have 15 hours of class a week. You made this same mistake in high school and didn't figure it out until the end and it went GREAT! I promise that when you do get involved you're going to do fun things and meet fun people, so start now!
Dear 20 year old self
You are so gorgeous right now. Seriously. I wish I could show you photos as seen through my eyes now. Stop being a "relationship" girl and get out there and start dating! The guys you are seeing are not worth your time, you could be out having way more fun than you are.
Dear 21 year old self
I know this has been kind of a shit year. Your heart is in tatters, as is your emotional state and you're actually getting physically ill from dealing with it. Here's the thing: you weren't in love. You'll realize this eventually, but it will take a few years and a lot of awkwardness between your friends, who you should stop resenting for still hanging out with your ex. He's not going anywhere and the sooner you accept this, the happier everyone will be.
But for all of that, I am SO proud of you. You've taken a terrible situation and turned it into an adventure. You're moving to Scotland for a summer of incredible friends and adventures. You will be happier than you have ever been making this move.
Stay longer. Defer school for another year and stay in Scotland, or move to London. There is no rush to come home yet, and once you do you will likely never be able to take an opportunity to do this again. Just stay where you're happy and enjoy it for a few more months. It will be worth it.
Dear 23 year old self
START THE BLOG! Stop waiting and feeling insecure about this! Ugh, I wish you weren't going to wait another 2 years. So many cool things are ahead of you! Trips, parties, charity events, birthdays, buying your first car, weddings, moving out! Just start the damned blog!
No? Fine. Wait until you're 25. But I told you so!
Also, save as much money as you can. It's going to be a few years before you can do that again.
Dear 24 year old self
Remember that guy I mentioned back when you were 16?
Well now you're dating and...
Dear 25 year old self
... Now you're living together. This is all pretty wonderful and exciting.
You hold firm when you tell him that he needs to be better about cleaning up, even when you don't ask. I promise you'll only need to have that conversation about 5 times before he starts doing it.
The past year has involved a lot of weird stuff with family and friends. I'm sorry you didn't move to the UK, but take solace in the fact that you helped a friend get there and she is seriously kicking ass, taking names, and becoming her most wonderful self in the process. It wasn't your time, but it was definitely hers.
You need to get better at saying "No" to people. It's going to take a bit... it's still taking a bit, but you'll get there.
Dear future selves
I hope that at 26, I'm not doing anything too stupid or embarrassing. I hope that you're not looking back on too many moments, shaking your head and wondering "why oh why". I hope that you're doing cool things, travelling, getting married, having a couple of kids and being awesome. I hope you still like to cook and read and sing.
I hope you're happy.