It has been 20 years since I graduated high school.
I don’t feel any older than I did 20 years ago but I do feel a lot happier.
Truth be told, where I am now isn’t where I thought I would be. If you were to go back in time and ask a young 18 year old me where I saw myself in 20 years I’m not entirely sure I would have been able to truthfully answer the question. I had bright ideas and big dreams.
I live in the city where I grew up. I take my son to my old high school for his soccer training. My daughter’s dance recitals are in the same theatre where I did my recitals.
I walk the hallways of my old high school and I wish I could go back and give that 15 year girl a little squeeze and whisper in her ear that it will all turn out just fine. I wish I could tell her to spend less time worrying and more time living. I wish I could help her understand that the key to being happy had nothing to do with anyone else’s approval and everything to do with her own self-love.
If I had to chance to go back and whisper in that young girl’s ear I would hug her and tell her so many things.
I would tell her:
That your parents aren’t idiots – If I had a dollar for every time I looked at my parents and thought they had zero idea what my life was really like I’d be rich. I see that look starting to twinkle in my son’s eyes sometimes. He’s not quite there yet but he’s questioning me and I know it’s to come. Seeing my parents as people rather than parents was a bit of a life changing moment for me. They may not have all the answers but they have lived and experienced and they really do know what they’re talking about.
High school actually isn’t the best time in your life – Not even close. My University years were so much better. The years after I first met my husband and we fell in love, partied and travelled were pretty damn good. Becoming a mother was the most beautifully intense moments of my life and watching my children grow is miraculous. I will soon enter my 40’s and I’ve heard those years are even better. So no High school was nowhere near the best years of my life. In fact, you couldn’t pay me to go back.
Being alone is okay – I was always so terrified of being alone. I felt like it meant that I wasn’t worthy. I would rather have been with people who didn’t treat me with respect than to be alone. But being alone is amazing. You learn about yourself. You figure out what you want. You get to indulge in what you want without worrying about anyone else. There will be a time in your life where you will crave time alone.
Not to see yourself through others eyes – I doubt myself. This has always been my downfall. I would take others judgments of me; their assumptions and their uninformed opinions and I would take it as truth. Other people’s opinions of me became my reality. The great thing about growing up is that you get to decide who you are, not anybody else.
To stop making my choices based on what I think others would want me to do – I wish I could go back and think long and hard about exactly what it is that I want. I always second guessed my own decisions and often ended up following the path that I thought others expected of me. Sometimes that path was the right path but other times it wasn’t. I wish I could go back and give myself permission to follow my own heart.
My high school years were spent trying desperately to be the person I thought I was supposed to be. In the years since I have discovered that who I am is exactly who I am supposed to be. Who I am is constantly evolving and changing and growing.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years.
20 years of successes and failures. 20 years of losing friends and gaining friends. 20 years of trying to figure out just who I am.
The thing is, even if I could go back and tell that scared, impressionable, insecure little girl all the lessons that I have learned in the past 20 years, I’m not sure it would even make a difference. Those lessons were all learned the hard way and they had to be. I had to fall down and pick myself back up. I had to choose the wrong path so that I could find my way to the right path. I had to make the wrong decisions so that I could truly appreciate the right ones.
If I could go back and have words with the girl that I once was, I would give her a hug and whisper into her ear that it will all work out in the end, just wait and see, the best is yet to come.