|Photo courtesy of Theeradech Sanin at freedigitalphotos.net|
I graduated from high school more than 10 years ago and if I could go back in time and give myself some pointers I totally would. This isn't to say I have regrets (I have none! OK, maybe a few), but I wish there were some things I would've navigated better.
Here's what I would've told myself:
1. Don't go to the tanning salon. You are part Irish. You will always be pale. Having a dark tan during the summer is a pipe dream. One year, you will achieve said pipe dream but probably at the expense of your skin's health. You will spend the following years agonizing over every blemish and bad burn thinking it'll only be a matter of time before it turns into skin cancer. Listen to me. Wear sunscreen on your face and neck every day. Quit trying to be something that you're not. Embrace your paleness. Be like Nicole Kidman.
2. It isn't always about you. You will struggle with this concept. You think everything is about you. It's a generation problem. You were brought up with a bunch of narcissists. Later, you'll realize the following generation was even worse and came up with something called selfies. Remember, it's not always about you. There's more to this world than one person.
3. Don't work at Red Lobster. It's a lousy job. You will be the worst bartender in the history of bartending. Your work clothes will smell like fish. Your fellow employees have a few screws loose. You will get yelled at by Mother's Day mobs in the lobby who want to be seated immediately even though there's a two hour wait. You will gain weight from eating cheddar biscuits when no one is watching. Do not work there. I repeat, do not work there.
4. Go to class. The longer you're in school, the more you'll want to skip. You will have nightmares into your 30s about missing an exam and flunking out of college. Do not sign up for Russian or philosophy. You will drop both and be forced into four years of French. Do not believe your communication professors. They think your writing sucks, but you will win journalism awards in the future. Tell those old, sexist white males they can pound sand (but not to their faces because you still need good grades).
5. Don't get caught up in the drama. Because you will. There will be a lot of drama and you will always be included in the mix. Take the high road. Be mature. Handle things like an adult. Be tough, but fair. Make friends for life.
6. Don't go to Mexico for spring break. It will not be the trip you expected. You will want to cross back into the US almost immediately. There will be tears. There will be police. It will be mayhem. You will stop in Port Aransas on the way there - do this instead. Still go with your friend. You will still be friends 10 years later. She is awesome. PS - Do not eat the fruit from the street vendors.
7. Call your parents. They will become some of your closest friends as you get older. When you're in your 30s, you will call your mother every day because you want to, not because you have to. Tell them you love them all the time.
8. Invent Facebook. It's a way for people to connect with each other using the Internet. You will be rich. Also, buy Apple and Amazon stock. Put money into a retirement fund immediately and keep putting money in. You don't need that shirt from Charlotte Russe. Seriously, it's not that cute.
9. Learn to let loose. You struggle with this concept. You like to be in control. But you need to loosen up a bit. Learn to dance. You are a horrible dancer (this isn't harsh, this is reality) and your husband will like to dance. Take lessons. Put your long limbs to good use. In the future, there will be a show called Dancing with the Stars. Take the appropriate steps to make sure you can get on the show if your career Plan A falls through (spoiler alert: Plan A goes just fine).
If only future Jen could've communicated with 17 year old Jen, right? Then again, the things I experienced made me the person I am today, who by all accounts is happy and what I assume to be well-adjusted (but with a lot less rhythm than most). Still, just think of how much money I'd have now if I had invested it properly? I need a time machine.