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What I Wish I Knew About Life When I Graduated High School

I look at your hopeful face, your bright eyes, and I wish I could go back in time and tell you a few things, aside from lose the giant bangs and Val Kilmer won’t age well. You’re currently stressing over your first semester of college, decisions over where to work, and whether to keep dating that cute guy (Spoiler alert. He IS the one!). If I could arrange a meeting between my middle-aged self and my fresh out of high school self, here’s what the present me might say… Taking a semester or even year off school might be a good thing. Life experience will give you time to figure out what you’re really passionate about. Don’t jump headlong into the first major that sounds good or seems acceptable.

Breaking up with that boy wasn’t the end of the world. So get your face out of your pillow, turn off the sad rock ballads, and wipe your eyes. (And pssst…guess what? That boy who cheated on you with your “friend” will be sporting a paunch and a bald spot by the time he’s 30. Bwahaha. Justice can be sweet). Speaking of friends…

Recognize true friendship when you see it. The popular girls, the shallow girls, the ones who make you feel insecure with their backhanded compliments—they don’t have any staying power. Make friends with people who make you laugh and accept you for you.

Enjoy that body! The tiny food baby you get after indulging in too much Mexican food is not as noticeable as you think. Neither does the miniscule flap of skin you can pinch on your inner thigh make you fat. This is as good as it’s going to get, girl, so stand up straight and wear those fitted clothes with pride!

The moments you care for others are the moments you’ll find your truest self. I’m not going to remind you to take care of yourself because you’ll hear that from all sides and you’ll be naturally pretty good at that. No, what the world needs is people thinking more about others, not themselves.

Your parents and grandparents are the ones to watch. Most of them will be gone before the next decade closes, so drop by when the urge strikes and pick up the phone and talk regularly. Ask them lots of questions. Listen. They know all the secrets of life.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one is noticing your awkwardness and klutzy moments as much as you think they are. Trust me on this one. Nobody’s got that kind of time.

Pantyhose will go away. This isn’t any sort of great wisdom, just something to look forward to! Sadly, this directly correlates to the fact that leg shaving will not. It all just goes to show that what is a necessity today can be obsolete in a matter of years.

Laughter will get you through some dark moments, so keep your sense of humor.  Every life experiences tough times, and don’t expect yours to be an exception. Look for the light moments in the midst of pain—they are an unexpected blessing. Learn the truth behind the cliché “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Speaking of clichés,

Cliches’ hold buckets of truth. A few come to mind: “Bloom where you’re planted,” “You’re stronger than you think,” “Into every life a little rain must fall,” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”—they’re repeated so often because they’re true. Consider embroidering a few on pillows.

There is a lot more that is grey than is black and white.  You’re a pretty black and white person right now; you believe in complete justice and a perfectly right and wrong answer to every situation. Ah, youth.  Life will teach you that there are many shades of grey. Speaking of shades of grey….oh, never mind. You’ll see.

People can change. For good or bad, yes, they really can. People are amazing. You won’t be the same person in 5, 10, 20 years that you are now. You will grow and learn and adapt. Find the person willing to do those things with you and you’ve found true happiness. And realize it’s not your job to change anyone; you can only do that for yourself.

Rome is better in real life than it seems in a book. So are Paris and London. So dream and save so you can visit those places you’ve only read about so far. That’s all I will say about that; I can’t give too much away! On that note,

Keep dreaming, but don’t look too far ahead. My greatest wish for you is that you enjoy each moment that you’re in, don’t get hung up on past mistakes, and don’t worry incessantly about what’s to come. Live today. “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (the Bible).

Have a fabulous life.

image credit: Ekaterina Povrosky/Dollar Photo Club


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Hi, I'm Jen!

As a military spouse of three decades and now the mom of an active duty son, my hope is to support you in your own military life. You’ll find help for your military marriage, deployments, PCS moves, and more!

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