Friday, October 7, 2011

If I only knew...

My oldest niece is 17 years old.

Process that for a moment.

I was a celebrity the day she was born, a week after my 9th birthday, when I had the most exciting news to share during our class morning report.

I'm actually closer in age to her than I am with my sister, and when we're all together with my second oldest niece who is 13, the four of us look like a bunch of girlfriends just hanging out...which I'm totally okay with.

my beautiful little loves on their first day of senior/freshman year

Whenever I'm away from them I think about all the things I want to say to them in person, because really there's some conversations that really don't translate over a text. It never fails though, whenever I do get to see them the days fly by; filled with activities, school days, errands, visitors, family dinners, or just quiet moments watching tv together-- and suddenly my visit is over and it's time for me to collect all my things that have found their way scattered around my sisters house, and all those important things I wanted to talk to the girls about got forgotten somewhere along the way.

my big sister and i
us way back

my very first lovebug! my oldest niece

fall festivities with my oldest nieces

17 seems like such a long time ago, a lifetime really, almost a decade.

 I look back at pictures of myself at that age and think about how much I've grown since then, and what I wish I had known back then. I think about the things that were SO important to me then, the people I knew, the friendships I had, the decisions I made, just everything that made up my world back then, and wonder if I would still do everything the same way or if my life would be completely different now if given the chance to go back and do it all again.

prom fashion show

i've thought about it enough, to think of some things I wish someone had told me when I was 17...
(or maybe they did but I was just too much of a teenager to listen)

  • You are beautiful exactly as you are. Your hair may be wild, you wear glasses, and sometimes your acne is out of control...but it's ok, it's what makes you, you. and you're beautiful.

  • Appreciate your parents while you get to see them every day. You might think you're an almost adult, but you'll realize how much of a child you really are the day you're away from home and get sick for the first time.

  • Don't be careless with someone elses heart. and don't let someone else be careless with yours. that boy you love? He's going to teach you about the things you want in a relationship, the things you don't, and will be the basis for every relationship that comes after 
  • Don't share you body with someone if you aren't ready. don't worry about what your friends are doing, what you see on t.v., what everyone else expects to happen when you're surrounded by raging hormones, if you're not ready, youre not ready. but if you do decide to, choose wisely. and be safe.
  • Be your own person. try to not be a follower. you want to go away to school and your friends want to stay home? go away anyway. your friends don't like someone and you do? befriend that person anyway. you're friends want to do something you think isn't a good idea? don't do it. it's simple really, even if it seems like the end of your world if you don't do everything your friends do. in a few years those friends you base your life around, only some of them will still be around in ten years. Cherish those people and the memories youll make together, but dont be afraid to take a chance just for yourself.
  • Enjoy every single second of your senior year. it's your last real chance at being a kid, surrounded by people who have known you your whole life, or at least the last few years. After this, your friends will each go on their own path and not all of them will return to settle back at home after their college adventures. you're still at a place where you don't have to worry about how you're going to pay off your credit bill this month or interviewing for a grown up job. your senior year will be gone before you know it, so make it count.
  • Think about college, what youre interested in, and what makes you happy. It doesn't hurt to go to a community college and take a bunch of different types of classes to see what really piques your interest. there's few things worse than spending four years (and maybe more) going towards a degree for a job it turns out makes you miserable. Maybe college isn't for you, maybe theres a trade you'd rather turn into a career, or a program you can pursue. whatever it is, explore the hobbies that make you happy, but do something to make them happen. apply for loans, scholarships, anything. make your dreams a reality.
  • Be silly, be carefree, laugh a lot, don't let anything bring you down, walk away from people who want to hurt you or disrespect you. be the bigger person, be brave, embrace your personality, your intelligence, your quirks. say no to drugs, get as much fresh air as you can, wear a coat when it's cold and stay away from the tanning beds. exercise, dont drink and drive, run around, drink water. hug your siblings-they were the first friends you ever had- you'll miss not seeing them every day, take lots of pictures, dont sext, especially dont post your every move online, take time to read books, spend time alone, read the newspaper. believe in yourself, stand up for what you believe in, believe in changing the world. make a list of the things you want to do in your life and do your best to make them happen and be able to check them off as you go. embrace the beauty in the world around you. don't smoke. don't think that you'll never survive high school, or that every drama means your life is over. most of all...don't be in such a rush to grow up.

im in the middle, awkward braces and all with my high school best friends

there's so much more I'd love to say to my former 17 year old self, the kids i used to know, my five nieces and one nephew who will all one day be 17, the kids who I just supervised over the summer, the kids who I take care of  now who will one day all grow into the teenagers i catch glimpses of on a daily basis...but it's late and my mind is going blank. as always all the things I'd love to say seem to have left my mind, but one of these days ill write them all down, so i can pass it on.

be brave loves,

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