I’m trying to rebound from some bug I was blessed with yesterday and not feeling full of ideas to write on, so forgive me if I pick a familiar theme to dwell on today.

Well into my 40s, I am still a major work in progress—not even close to being “finished,” which I don’t think is even possible—at least before the grave. As I share on my About page, I’ve learned a bit late in the game that being broken open is better than keeping everything sealed tight. At 17, I wasn’t about to let anything get close enough to even risk a crack in my facade.

Boy did I (and do I!) have a lot to learn.

Here are some notes I would share with my 17-year-old self:

Stay away from perms. They are not your friend.

 

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Embrace your body—it deserves more credit than you give it. In years to come, you will look back and shake your head at what you once considered “fat.”

Know that several of the friends you cherish now will still be in your life in years to come. Let them in more than you do. It won’t kill you. In fact, you’ll be glad you did. But you are stubborn, and you won’t learn this for many more years.

 

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There are certain people in your life you will never be able to please. Stop trying so hard. It’s more than okay for your life to be a little bit about you.

Those internal battles you face? Those struggles that mess with your head? They have names. They are called anxiety and depression, and once you understand that they are truly things that you can strive to manage—and it’s not just you—the world will start making better sense.

There is such a thing as being loyal to a fault. You will wish you knew this now rather than later.

Love Dad even more…get as many hugs as you can. He will be gone in a mere four years.

 

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You’ve got such a tight lid on things that you don’t even know the depths of this, but you are a mess—not messy, but a mess—and that’s okay. Really. It will take many years for you to realize that there is no merit in acting or thinking otherwise. And many years for you to embrace your messiness and realize that this is one of the best things that will happen to you.

You will walk many different paths in life. Each will lead you to the next right step, even though it is not obvious at the time. Please don’t feel the pressure to find that one calling in life that defines you. You are meant to live your life in chapters, and each one will have merit.

Brace yourself: you are not in control of things. You will learn this lesson (time and again) through a number of twists, turns, and crises that “you” did not plan. But it’s life. Let it happen. Give over the control you never really had. You will not understand how God works. Which is perfectly okay because if you did understand everything about God, he wouldn’t be God. Surrender to that. Surrender to him.

Let love in.

Start with yourself.

You have and are going to have some really awesome people in your life. You are blessed. Remember that when the really crappy people pull you down. Don’t let them grab hold. The Awesomes will not be defeated.

And, finally, you are a lovable knucklehead. If you could be brave now and learn to be vulnerable, life will be much different for you. Instead, you will wait until you’re a much older woman to face that challenge, and it will be harder to teach the old dog new tricks.

But you are one resilient kid. You’ll figure it out…eventually.

PS—invest in these things that are up and coming called “personal computers.” You won’t be sorry.

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