To be sixteen again. It was almost half a lifetime ago, a time that seems so distant to me. So long ago, in fact, that I can’t exactly recall what my younger self foresaw for my older self. But I think she would be happy with the person she’s turned out to be and life she’s made for herself.
I think what my sixteen-year-old self would be surprised to learn is that most of the notions she had about life at that time, and how those notions would continue as she grew older, were wrong.
Sixteen-year-old me believed that high school was the greatest time of her life. Reality? It is merely a blip on the scale of her life’s greatest times. In retrospect, high school is greatly overshadowed by both childhood and adulthood. My fondest memories are not of proms and parties and projects but rather: summer walks with my grandpa as a little girl, vacations with my family, lazy summers with my sister, my first date with my husband, his proposal, my first college class, my first real job, my wedding and the weddings of my family and friends, buying my first house, the birth of my son, getting fired and learning from it, time with my parents, and addressing my college class at graduation. There are too many to list, but the “important” high school moments are not among them.
Sixteen-year-old me believed that no matter what, the friends she had then would be her best friends for life. Reality? Some remained, but most fell away. There are so many people in the world to connect with based on commonalities beyond our parents choosing to live in the same town and send us to the same school. Friendship based on necessity and desire to be part of the adolescent hierarchy don’t have the roots needed to survive distance, time, and the evolution of a person. But trust that there are those relationships, forged in our youngest days and tested by our toughest times, that do remain. And those friends will blend seamlessly with new friends, until friend is no longer a suitable description and family rings truer.
Sixteen-year-old me was determined to be an accomplished journalist. There are still times that I look back at that dream and wish I would’ve taken advantage of more opportunities. But I know if I would have done those things, I would have the career but at the cost of the real joys of my life: my husband, my son and the opportunities we are creating for ourselves today.
When I was sixteen, I thought I had my whole life ahead of me. I had my whole life to forge my path, make my mark, develop who I am before I got old…you know, like in my 30s.
Well, guess what? I’m three months shy of entering my 30s and I still have my whole life ahead of me to forge my path, make my mark and develop who I am–and continue to make my sixteen-year-old self proud. As long as I’m truthful, willing to push myself, challenge myself, reflect, reassess, and always move forward, my sixteen-year-old self will always be happy with the person she’s become.