We all look back at our younger selves and sometimes cringe at some of the choices we’ve made. If I could write a letter and mail it back in time I would. There would be 10 things I’d love to say to myself:
A lot has happened in your 18 years on this earth, and I want you to know that you ain’t seen nothin’ yet honey! There are a few things that I want you to know in order to make the next 20 years a little easier.
- Be proud of who you are! God has blessed you in ways that you cannot even begin to realize yet. You could have ended up in foster care after your mom died. You didn’t. You were one of the fortunate ones to have an extended family raise you as their own. So see the glass half full there.
- The time you’re going to spend at Elizabeth City State playing basketball will fly by. In fact, after you hit the 30-year-old mark, you won’t be able to do half of the things athletically that you can now. Be mindful that you’ll have to be employed until you’re 65! If you fail to take a serious stab at majoring in Computer Science, Drafting, or anything that would enable you to coach on the collegiate level, you’ll end up teaching. By 2014 NC will rank among the lowest in the country in teacher pay, and you’re not going pro in basketball (in fact, the WNBA won’t even be founded for another 4 years).
- Learn the difference between empathy and sympathy. People who have not experienced what you have, cannot empathize with you at all. You’ll be misunderstood in terms of your motives for sharing your pain. You’ll even be accused of seeking sympathy and feeling sorry for yourself. Be particular about who you express your delicate feelings to. Seek out people who have experienced some of the same things you have.
- You’ve got to sit down and make a list of your non-negotiables in romantic relationships. I know that you have never known what it feels like to be loved by your own father, but those nappy headed boys can’t give you the love you’re seeking hon. Don’t be desperate for love. Don’t settle. Realize that you’re beautiful, intelligent, and talented. Take time to love yourself. Right now, you don’t love yourself very much at all, and you don’t even know it (yet).
- You do not have to get married, have 2.5 children, and a dog. Okay? OKAY? If you decide to, make sure you wait until you have the backbone to set healthy boundaries. Wait until your emotional bank account is strong enough so that you can give easily without feeling depleted. I know all of your friends will be getting married in their mid 20s. They’ll start having kids soon after. So what? You won’t be ready until you’re much further along with loving yourself, dealing with your sources of grief, and settling into your career.
- Speaking of Career: Read #2 AGAIN
- You’re going to have a beautiful, sweet, intelligent daughter from the marriage I just told you not to rush into. That marriage will be the most long-suffering situation you will have experienced up until now. You will divorce. It will hurt. You will survive.I’m not saying never get married, but don’t neglect to involve GOD in your courtship, engagement, and especially in your union. Don’t be roommates. Don’t become hanging buddies. FOR CHRIST’S SAKE: DO NOT live too close to neither his family nor yours. Be believers who want the same things, have the same goals, and the same level of respect for the other person.
- Don’t give up on communicating with your ex for the sake of your daughter, even if he is unwilling. How you handle things with her will make a huge impact on your relationship with her down the road.
- You don’t need anyone’s approval to make the decisions in life that involve Joan. By the time you “poll” everyone whom you think knows what’s best for you, you will have talked yourself right out of a blessing. So, stop doing that.
- Enjoy your life! Smile! Quit beating yourself up over life’s little mistakes. Failures make you stronger. By the time you’re 41, you will realize all these things and you’ll be able to just sit back and say, “This is the best advice I’ve ever gotten from anyone. Thanks, self!”
You’re more than welcome, Joanie!
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