Tomorrow is a big birthday for me. I know. I can't believe it either. I am not 17 as I am in the picture below (follow the blue eyeshadow trail). That girl had no idea what she was doing. If I thought she would have stopped long enough, I would have written her a letter:
Don't be in such a rush. Enjoy just being you for a while. The big things like love and marriage will take care of themselves. If you can't go out for a night because of studying, don't worry. You will have plenty of nights to go out. And after the studying, just be...or read a book. There won't be much time later for reading books and many other things for that matter. Life, work, and family will encroach. It may be years before you can read a book in one sitting again. Do it now.
Call Nana more. Someday you will lull yourself to sleep with remembrances of her. You will reach beyond your memory to search for the very things you can see right now by spending more time with her. Really look at the way she lives, decorates, dresses, cares for Gramps. Study the things that will be gone one day. Ask her about what life was like during the 1920's. And ask her to show you how to make her pie crust. Her stuffed peppers too. You'll never be able to do it if you don't ask her soon.
Have more confidence in yourself. See the things that others see in you and nurture them. Your smile, your tenderheartedness. Embrace those things. Embrace who you are. Don't be like the others. Don't be afraid to stand out. And while you're at it, defend yourself - speak up when someone steps on your toes.
Don't marry the first person who asks you. Step back and think about it first. Would he make a good husband? Would he be committed? Will you mind eating on a TV table next to him one day? What kind of father would he make? I know he thrills you now but when the baby has croup and dinner isn't made, will he step up to the plate? If not, wait for the next bus. And remember, buses come along every few minutes. Choose the one that's going in the direction of YOUR dreams.
And when you do marry, don't do or be everything. Keep a part of yourself for yourself. You'll be a better wife in the long run. And a better mother.
When you have your babies, sleep when they sleep. That's a hard one. But try. Let the housework go because babies don't keep. They grow up faster than you know. You will miss the way the nape of their necks smell and the way they fold into your arms. Don't worry about the dirty clothes hamper so much.
Have more fun. Let loose. Don't take things so seriously. Dance more. Laugh. Be silly. Be ridiculous.
Ask your mother for advice. She wants to tell you what she knows and someday, you will be glad of it. All your life, you will think back and hear the things she said. Know that she really is wiser than you. You will need her strength on playback until the end. Get it while you can.
Buy the boots you love. Yes, they're expensive but you'll be glad you did. The cheaper ones will never leave your closet floor.
Trust your gut. It won't fail you. But be still enough to hear what it is trying to say.
Bloom where you're planted. Sometimes life takes you in a new direction. Don't fight it. Instead, lay the tablecloth and light the candles. While you are there, you might as well be happy. And remember that living well is always the very best revenge.
Make a friend of Change and you will make a friend for life. Nothing is stagnant. Life is ever-flowing in ways that will soon amaze you. Be open to the possibilities that come with change.
Be less afraid. You are resourceful and will land on your feet. Pink-slips come to all of us. The landlord that wants your apartment for his son and new wife. The young boss who cleans house at the office. It's what you turn the pink-slips into that matters.
Wait three days. If you're heartbroken or just broken down, three days will make all the difference. Don't panic. Draw on what you know. I swear it's magic. Just 72 hours and suddenly, it won't matter about the new haircut that was too short or too weird. Or the haircut the kids gave each other. Or the dishwasher that leaked on the new hardwoods. Perspective takes only three days.
Appreciate your youth, your endless energy and stamina. But don't be afraid to get older. Every decade has its joys. I know that's hard to believe but its true. Each age brings new jewels. You will get smarter. Keener. More savvy. You'll choose better friends. You'll discover companionship can be just as wonderful as love. Sometimes better.
And know that someday, you will be very glad you are not 17 any longer.
(You'll just have to trust me on that one.)