The conversation was informative and one of the more engaging I’ve enjoyed in quite some time.
Based on the answers received and that a DeLorean won’t show up at my front door anytime soon, I thought I should pass the wisdom on to The Teen and any other young person who may read this. I don’t regret anything I’ve done, and I look at my past as a story that still has the ending waiting to be written.
My Darling Daughter,
One day you will be my age. It will shock you when you realize that the oldies station is playing the songs you danced to as a girl. You will be amazed at the number of people who call you “Ma’am” and you will learn to appreciate being carded.
Please listen and hear the following. I don’t expect you to follow these things in a rigid fashion, but rather as a guide.
1. While you are young, there is no better time than now to SAVE YOUR MONEY. Trends come and go. Apple will unveil a new product almost yearly. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you have your own money. It’s liberating not to have to rely on anyone for basic needs and have the ability to take care of yourself.
2. Finish college. Stay focused on those books. When you are my age, it’s a challenge to go back. Life happens and at this age it happens a LOT quicker. Eight now, the job can wait. Soak up the diversity that is college. Enjoy the freedom of learning.
3. However, I would like to caution you that you should NEVER stop learning. Your degree from university does not mean you have to stop. There are so many more things to learn that we need to accept it all. Skills are meant to be built UP. Don’t let your skills halt. You can always gain more knowledge in everything.
4. TRAVEL. When you have two kids in tow, it’s difficult to turn an ordinary vacation into an adventure. Not that you won’t enjoy the time spent with your children. You will. But that crowd dancing on the block in Harlem (Missy, remember that book fair?) you’ll think twice before joining into their fun. You have additional responsibilities when you have kids. So travel and travel often. Embrace new cultures, new lands, new experiences.
5. Appreciate your body now. You will always find something you want to change. Don’t let the “When I” hold you back. I used to say “When I lose weight, I’ll get the right guy.” Well, I got the right guy and did it DESPITE the lack of weight loss. Sometimes I can strangle him, but your father makes me happy. He doesn’t notice my weight unless I ask him. And even then he tells me how beautiful I am and how much he loves me. You will look back at your younger self and be so annoyed that you let weight be an issue. You really weren’t that fat. And if you were, who cares?
6. Never regret anything (unless you’re singing karaoke at your mother’s birthday and you’ve consumed WAY too much Pinot *shifty side eye*). You learn best from mistakes and actions of the past. Besides, the things you regret make for interesting stories at cocktail parties or while waiting in line. It builds character.
7. It will all make sense. Remember how I felt during the time I worked at my other jobs? Although I was losing hair and sleep, my experience dealing with people and their money was a great way to teach me to handle people in the community. At the time I could not understand the sexism of some of the customers. Now I am sensitive to other cultures. I realize that some men won’t shake my hand because of their tradition, some women will revile me because of their upbringing. That the young lady who had me in HR the most was practice for the residents who complain the most and participate the least. as I work with them.
8. KIT. Keep in touch. With friends, with your family, mainly with yourself. It’s easy to let your friends fall into the “I’ll get it later pile” but friendship should be nurtured and maintained. The same with family. Never attend another funeral or memorial service thinking about the times you didn’t reach out to these people. Always collect memories of times spent with your family. Yes, sometimes they seem to exist to make your life a living Hell, but you get one family. As for yourself, there are 24 hours in a day. Take at least one of those hours for yourself. Whether you take a walk, paint your nails, work out, read a book, or veg in front of Judge Judy, make that YOUR TIME. Make it non-negotiable and just for you.
9. Time can never be replaced. Don’t mistake money for success. You are just as successful spending time with your loved ones, listening to the same CD on repeat because that’s what your kids want to hear. There are things that you won’t be able to recreate, so enjoy the moment. Live in the moment. Be present in all you do.
10. Faith. This is a difficult one for me. I keep expecting a burning bush or a huge sign from God. Believing in something greater than yourself is one I urge you to continue. There are always going to be trials and troubles. Knowing that a Higher Power is there somehow makes it easier.
I could go on, but I think you know how I feel about you. I can confidently say that despite the times we have clashed, I consider you MY greatest achievement. I should have added in my note to my younger self:
You will have a daughter who will make you proud. You will love her deeply, and you will be honored to call her yours.
I love you very much,