Theme Thursday: Dear Self At Sixteen-Get A Life!

Theme ThursdayTheme Thursday is a time for people to rejoice.  It is that special time of the week where the heavens open up and angels sing because the most awesome writers in the world get together and write about a common theme.   Today’s topic is “Write a letter to your sixteen year old self.” 

Four out of five dentists recommend Theme Thursday.

Oops, wrong letter.

Oops, wrong letter.

Dear Self at Sixteen:

First of all, congratulations.  If you are reading this then you have survived to adulthood, and into your late 30s even.  I’m writing to offer you some advice.  Listen up, I’m not as nice now as I was when I was your age.  I mean I’m still pretty nice, I’m just a little wiser.  Someday you’ll have a blog with that word in the title.  Don’t get too excited, it’s not like it sounds.

So you’ve recently moved to Iowa.  You left the sunny coast of Florida, and you feel like you left your whole life behind.  Believe it or not your life is not over.  The weather (and maybe some of the people) may be much nicer down there but there are some things that are way better here.  For example, no hurricanes.  It’s all good.  You won’t realize how nice the Midwest is until you are much older, and then you’ll learn to appreciate it.

That hair.  My what big hair you have.  Big hair does not equate coolness.  Wait until the Twenty Teens, you’ll look back on that hair and wonder what the hell you were thinking.  Get some bangs cut, pull it back and get it out of your face.  Speaking of your appearance, you are not fat, and certainly not close to being fluffy (except maybe the hair).  The sad thing is that the ideal that our society idolizes is only going to get much more unrealistic.  Do what feels right-walk, do some exercise, but don’t take it to extremes.  You’re only setting yourself up-come to find out no matter how thin you get you won’t think it’s thin enough.  It’s called body dysmorphia, and guess what-you have it.

Oh my, what big hair you have.

They told me I’d have hair like Jon Bon Jovi.  Why did I listen????

While we’re on the subject of appearance, quit acting stupid.  Stop pretending to be normal.  You’re not, and that’s ok.  You can recite The Empire Strikes Back word for word, can read a whole book in one day, and have an undying love for all things geeky.  Don’t stop being yourself just because you’ve moved to corn country and feel you have to act a certain way to fit in.  The normal people are not the people you want to hang out with anyway.  You will find friends who appreciate the same kinds of things that you do, just give it time.

And speaking of being stupid, ditch the boyfriend.  Cultivate your friendships instead.  The friendships will last, the boyfriend will not.  There are far far worse things than being alone, and the friends will not go away.  Besides, the boyfriend is just a stupid guy who has a lot of growing up to do, as are all teenage guys.  Trust me on this one.  You’ll know love on down the road, this is not it.  You’ll have your heart broken more than once, and even when you find the one, it will not be perfect.

Almond kids

THIS is love.

Don’t listen to or waste time on toxic people.  They don’t know anything.  Don’t let others pee on your dreams.  Take some time to figure out what you want to do.  Don’t settle for anything less.  Do you want to write?  Then write.  Do you want to teach in early childhood?  Don’t let other people try to discourage you, especially those who tell you things like “You can’t ever teach kids, you don’t hold your pencil right.”  The last time I checked, holding your pencil one way or another does not dictate where you will go in life.  Do you want to take French AND Spanish your Senior year?  Don’t let that guidance counselor sell you short by telling you that you’ll get confused and get talked into taking Foods.  Do you want to go to the college that won’t offer huge scholarships and grants to you?  Figure out some way to get there.  Find ways to succeed.  Don’t let other people try to stop you.

Quit being afraid in general.  The world does not need more Camerons.  They need more Ferrises.  They also need more people that can tell you what the plural of Ferris actually is.  He’s right you know-Life does move pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it.  When you are in your 30s and have kids, you’ll know what I’m referring to.  You’ll even write a blog post about it.

Life is not easy.  It’s also not fair.  There’s no perfect.  Even people who seem perfect or have the perfect relationship, trust me, it’s all a lie.  Things will be good and things will be bad.  Often there will not be an in between.  Life should resemble a roller coaster more than it should seem like a sidewalk.  And you know what?  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Sincerely,

Your 38 and almost 11/12ths year old self

Not too shabby for approaching 40...

Not too shabby for approaching 40…

Don’t hesitate to take a look at what other people wrote to themselves.  Join us at the link up on Something Clever 2.0 for the other Theme Thursday posts. And don’t forget to brush your teeth (as recommended by those four dentists…duh).

And Now An Unfunny Post About A Truly Unfunny Day

Eleven years ago today I thought the world was ending.

At the time, I was working at a daycare center.  It was on a university campus, and rather than being all in one building, each age group was in a separate little building.  I worked in the toddler room.  I spent the days chasing little ones around, singing songs, changing diapers, and preventing kids from being bitten by one little girl we dubbed “JAWS”.  This particular day didn’t seem any different than any other.  I came to work and everything seemed to be business as usual.

I left the building to walk across to the main office, probably to get dishes from the kitchen. A coworker came out of a nearby building and called to me across the parking lot “Did you hear about the planes?”  That that got my attention.  “WHAT planes?”  I hollered back.  “A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.”  Huh?  “Wow, that is a horrible accident.”  She had a strange look on her face, “You might want to go turn on the radio in your building.  It’s no accident.”

I went on my way to do whatever it was I was going to do, and returned to my building.  I relayed the information to the other teacher, who immediately turned it on.  At first I wasn’t convinced it was much of anything.  I knew how the media sensationalizes stuff.  I was wrong.

As it began to sink in just what was happening, a coworker almost completely lost her mind and had to be sent home.  Some parents came to get their children and took them home, unsure of just what had happened would mean.  Everything was weird, surreal.  Even the toddlers seemed to understand that something was going on, they were oddly calm that day.  The remaining teachers and I talked in hushed voices about what had happened, and the consequences of it.  What would happen to our country?  We had been attacked?  Would we retaliate?  Would there be nuclear war?  How would we in Iowa be affected?  Would there be more attacks on other places?

For whatever reason, I got off of work early that day.  I can’t remember why.  I do remember stopping at Kmart before heading home to pick up something we needed.  The parking lot was virtually empty-for a moment I wondered if it was open.  It was, but there was not a soul in there other than the service desk person and a cashier.  They too talked in hushed voices.  There was no laughter, no smiling.  Everything was somber.  I really wanted to talk to my husband.  This was before we really had a cell phone.  He worked at a factory and went to school-it wasn’t like I could really get a hold of him if I wanted to.  But I wanted to, because as the day went on I began to wonder if this was our last day on earth.

I don’t really remember much else about that day beyond the morning.  I do remember coming home and watching TV.  I couldn’t stop watching the planes crash into the World Trade Center over and over, listening to people recount what had happened and analyze it and what might come of it.  I remember feeling like it was a really bad dream.  None of it seemed real.  Would I even see tomorrow?  Was the world ending?

In a way, it was, at least how we knew it.

As the week went on, as the months went on, even as that year came and went, fear ruled our lives.  We worried about further attacks, not just with weapons, but with things like public transportation and ordinary things that we used everyday being turned into something to hurt and kill others with.  It was unsettling trying to understand how someone could hate our people and our country so much that they would be willing to die.

Yet for us life went on.  We got out of bed in the morning, we went to work, went to school, went to sleep at night.  In that space where the towers once stood was a metaphor for how we as a country felt in our heart.

My life has changed considerably from that day.  Instead of spending long days in a room full of young children I spend all day with my own.  I no longer live in the same house or drive the same car.  As I rub the crunchy, sticky remnants of my daughter’s ring pop off of the bottom of my foot, I set out to try to record my memories of that day that we all wish had never happened.  I think it is very important that we never forget what happened that day.  I have to remember that even when I am having a bad day, that the people that died, the people that were injured, the people that lost family and friends, the people that were there and had to experience all that happened there that day-it could be far, far worse.