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I realize now that there is no way that I would have listened…. I get that. But in a perfect world, where we take the sage advice of our elders and apply it to our daily lives, I have a few things I wish I could have imparted to a younger me. Having teenagers on the verge of big life decisions is at the core of this post… Bear with me.
- Never be afraid to try. Failure is so much easier to overcome than regret! Try new things as often as you can: new foods, new activities, new music… Try out things you aren't sure you will be good at, stretching yourself into uncomfortable situations in order to view the strength of your fabric. You may just find your life's passion by stepping out of your comfort zone.
- High School is so temporary. I swear, there will be so few people you keep in touch with and you won't remember the names of some of the most prominent, "popular" people you think are so important now. Take it with a grain of salt and laugh at the absurdity of it's woes.
- That boy/girl will not be the center of your world in two years… Just trust me on this one.
- You aren't fat. You will get so much fatter. Really. Very, very fat! (so fat…)
- Travel with your parents. Yes, I know they are so dorky, or 'derpy' if you prefer, but they are footing the bill for only a short time and if you keep your eyes open you just might learn a thing or two. Even if all you see is Western Kansas, you can log that in your 'been there, done that' file at no cost to you.
- Tanning spray over tanning beds. Trust me, they are getting better. And skin cancer or a sunburn are a complete harsh to the groove. No one looks sexy with either one…
- Drink more water. Filter it, buy it, pull it from ancient wells, but drink it. It will serve you so much in your later years. Your skin with thank you.
- Learn to listen. When you are young it is in your nature to want to rattle on about nothing, to hear your own voice, to confirm what it is you think by saying it and saying it loudly. Don't. Listen more than you talk. Folks will not only imbue you with qualities of patience and wisdom (which you may or may not have) but they will tell you things you wouldn't hear otherwise and some of those things will be valuable.
- Instead of finding a job to make money to fuel your passion, work your passion and find a way to make money at it. So many of my colleagues now are sunk in professions that suck them dry rather than inflame their passions. If there is any way you can follow a dream and make it reality, risk it. If you fail, so what. There is always a toilet that needs scrubbing somewhere and a guy willing to pay you to do it. If you succeed, you have now conquered the biggest life-hack known to man: Loving what you do never feels like work!
- When you are dealing with someone who has a terribly bad attitude and it is pointed straight at you, remember this: Recall in your mind the worst day you have ever had and imagine that this person is having that same day. Empathy goes a long way and you just don't know what someone else is dealing with. Don't add to it with your hurt feelings. Chances are they won't even register that you are irritated anyway, so all it will do is wreck your mood.
- Nothing is ever free. No matter what it is, it came at a price. Be grateful, be cautious and pay your way whenever possible. I am not saying be suspicious of generous souls but I am saying realize that generosity should always been gratefully received, and where ever possible, repaid. Whether you repay with gratitude, a generous tip or a smile, give something back.
- Hug your mother. Yes, this is blatantly self-serving, but something I wish I would have understood more as a kid. The simple fact is, she is pretty certain she is screwing it all up and a hug from you would make her at least stop and wonder if she is getting it right. As moms we go along, day in and day out, giving of ourselves without a second thought. You squeezed out of our tired bodies, you demanded food immediately and we have been hopping to ever since. Hug her, she needs to know you aren't really in need of deep psychotherapy because she lost it in the grocery store when you dropped the jar of pickles.
- Put your phone down. Yes, we all know how terribly important you are and that your entire social network counts on you for witty responses and funky e-cards (I know mine does). Put it down. When you are in the company of someone, value that they chose to spend their time with you. They didn't have to, they could have picked someone else - anyone else. The world will not stop spinning if you actually look at someone while they speak to you. Turn off the notifications if you need the less distracting option, but look up, meet their gaze and smile.
- Take walks. Yes, outside. Yes, without your phone, if you can. Yes, without music in your ears. Listen to the sounds of what is around you. Quiet your mind and take a break from the distractions you face every single waking moment.
- Laugh more. Every day if possible. It releases tension, increases dopamine and seratonin levels, burns calories (that will help with #4) and it's attractive. Well…. Don't do it while drinking a liquid, that can be disastrous, but in general people are much more approachable and attractive to others when they are smiling and laughing.
I am sure there are more… Add to this list if you wish! But these are my top fifteen. I would never have listened, but it's a nice thought...