As I quickly approach my 40th birthday, I want to take a moment to reflect on what I’ve learned so far. The best way I could fully appreciate my most important lessons was to write a letter to my 13-year-old self. What would you say? This is what I came up with.
You have a great heart, continue to follow it. Just make sure to keep your brain with you. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, have the courage to walk away even if everyone else stays. Trust the small voice in your head.
Character and reputation will get you more job opportunities than a great resume, work on those first. No job is ever worth your happiness. It’s better to make less money and like what you are doing than make more and hate every minute of it.
Start contributing to a retirement account with your first job. The best time to start is as early as possible. You will get the biggest bang for your buck and trust me, that’s a big deal to you!
You will spend over a decade wishing you were 5 lbs lighter, then you’ll one day look back, 20 lbs heavier and wish you were that exact weight again. Stop chasing a carrot, dangling on a string and embrace where you are.
Be yourself, always. Don’t be afraid of the things that make you different and weird. Those are your greatest assets. If people don’t “get” you, those aren’t your people. There will be people who love and appreciate those assets, those are your people.
You won’t always be the awkward girl with braces, glasses, and a perm. The braces will come off, you’ll get contacts, and you’ll boycott perms. Focus on building your inner beauty and don’t worry about this phase in your life, it’s only temporary.
There are a lot of guys you’ll date who aren’t marriage material, you’ll know almost immediately, don’t try to keep them. And when they go, smile and wave. Realize you’ve dodged a bullet and be grateful.
Quality always trumps quantity. Having 1 good friend is better than 100 who say they are your friend, but don’t treat you that way. Being popular is overrated. Just keep being kind and let your true personality come out. The right friends will gravitate toward you.
Don’t sacrifice your values for anyone. You will regret it.
You ARE good enough. All of the years that you’ll struggle with feeling less than, know that the only thing holding you back are your own insecurities. You are such a good person with so much to offer, don’t let anyone (especially yourself) convince you that you aren’t. You are your own worst critic. The fear of not being perfect will keep you from trying things, things you would enjoy.
Join the track team. You’ll have a daughter who is a fast runner and you’ll want to be able to tell her your stories and encourage her through your own experiences. Plus, it will be good for you, maybe you are really fast too.
A lot of what you’ll learn in school, you’ll forget. The important stuff will stick, plus there will be this really cool thing called Google that will answer anything you need to know anyway. Feel free to buy stock in it also. Don’t stop doing your best and learning as much as you can though. Someday, your daughter will need help in Algebra and you’ll remember enough to help her.
It’s true that most of what you worry about won’t ever happen. Ask yourself to find solutions. Do what you need to solve the problem and move on. If there are no solutions, let it go. There will be a lot of things that are out of your control, give those things to God and get a good night’s sleep. You will thank me later.
Give freely and generously, but don’t let people take advantage of you. When it stops feeling good, know that’s time to step back. Realize that as much as you try, some people can’t be helped. That’s okay, continue to help the ones you can.
When the weather is bad, reschedule. You are not a great driver, especially in slush. Stay home.
Going to the Prom wasn’t a big deal, you wouldn’t have lived to regret it if you hadn’t gone. Spending most of the night waiting in line to have pictures taken and then having your date dance with another girl for the rest of the time, complete waste of a Saturday night.
Life is worth it. Every time you are feeling sorry for yourself and alone, know that you matter to so many people. If you were gone, people would miss you. Pick yourself up and keep going. You have so much to live for.
When you listed your future goal in the yearbook to “marry an extremely rich man”, you exceeded that for sure. You chose potential, integrity, and love. That makes you both extremely rich. At the time, you were looking for a plan that didn’t involve college, but allowed you to still live a comfortable, stable, and successful life. You took a lot of winding, out-of-the-way paths, but you got there. A degree isn’t a guaranteed ticket to success, your “extremely rich” man doesn’t have one either. Use your brain and work hard.
Go to the chiropractor when your hips start hurting. You’re out of alignment.
Above everything, trust yourself. You are more capable than you realize. ❤️