Don't Be A Jerk
"If you had the chance, what would you tell your younger self?"
I've seen that question a lot lately. It's a blog topic, a celebrity interview question. The answers are often trite.
"I really AM beautiful."
"Don't be so hard on yourself."
"You ARE thin enough."
Not that those things aren't true. They're just probably not the only true things.
At least not for me.
Whenever I've dared examine myself, if I'm honest, I've never concluded that I'm fantastic. Does anyone with half a brain ever leave a therapist's office thinking, "It really is everybody else?"
So, in the spirit of having half a brain...what would I tell my younger self?
It's okay to not have an opinion. I felt strongly about...everything. Even when I didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground. Wait...I don't think I've changed that much...anyhoo...
My friends' husband?
Thought he was a jackass. Did I know him? No.
Who's Reagan? What's an omic? No matter. I could argue for a couple hours about that topic.
I was there. I knew it wasn't true.
There's something to be said for the ignorant optimism of the young. It's just not anything good.
It's okay to have an opinion and keep it to yourself. Ack. Little did I know that even if I knew a lot about the subject at hand, it was sometimes preferable, even wise, to keep my pie hole SHUT.
My friend's husband really was a jackass.
Shoulda kept that gem to myself.
Jeans don't make your ass look fat. All that fat makes your ass look fat.
Who knew she wouldn't take that well?
I wasn't there and I still don't think its true. But, do I really need to tell the devout (like my mother-in-law for instance) I'm an atheist? Well, agnostic. I'm too lazy to take a stand.
Turns out, no.
Silence really is golden.
Chances and opportunities aren't limitless.
This one hurts. Bad.
Went to the concert instead of work? Fired.
No problem, I'll just get another job. Not so fast. Especially when you've done it ten or twenty times and you're 35 and the economy comes to a screeching halt.
Need to exercise more patience and understanding toward my mother? Sure. Later.
Too late now. She's gone.
Didn't finish college? Who needs that crap? I'll do it later.
Marriage, kids, divorce, finances, life...later never came.
Here's the finest pearl of wisdom: chances and opportunities involve a hell of a lot of work and sacrifice. Not willing to do it? Then it won't happen.
Other than a fair trial, you have a right to very little.
Your parents or your neighbors lifestyle isn't your birthright. See chances and opportunities.
Privacy is a privilege, especially if you still live at home.
Happiness is a choice, often elusive.
Self esteem is earned. Doing a job well (starting with that first one at McDonalds), working hard at something even though you're not that good at it until you get better, doing things you need to do instead of just what you want to do, that's how you build self esteem.
Stand up for something you believe in even if it costs you.
Changing the world is often something only the young have the energy for, so do it.
Go to the mat for an ideal. Nothing builds character more than that.
Hate your job and want to quit? Wait.
HAVE, HAVE, HAVE to get married? Wait.
DYING to have kids? Wait.
Can't imagine living without that way too expensive outfit? Wait.
How many mistakes would I have avoided if I'd have just...waited.
What doesn't kill you often doesn't make you stronger.
Trash your health with booze and cigarettes? Cirrhosis and emphysema don't kill you...at least not quick. Hacking up your lungs and turning yellow from jaundice really isn't attractive. And it sure doesn't look fun either.
If you feel depressed or anxious ignore it, buck up, it'll go away. It won't affect your judgment or your decision making? Right?
This will kill you. But not until you swill in misery for years.
The same bad relationships over and over? They wear you down, give you ulcers and wrinkles, make you cry, and beat you down. Kill you?
Gratitude is more important than almost anything.
There hasn't been one day of my life that I haven't had something to feel grateful for. I should've recognized it, celebrated it, shown thanks for it.
Lucky for me, I'm still breathing. As long as I am, it's not too late.
12/4/2013 12:09:53 am
Very true. The whole notion of waiting and not reacting to things really makes a big difference. I think it's an age thing to some extent. When I was in my 20's and 30's, it was pretty much impossible for me to NOT react to outside stimuli. After having kids, it changed things for me a lot. Waiting and taking my time with thinking things through is a whole new approach and much more satisfying. Great post.
12/4/2013 02:35:51 am
Kids are the great reality check. Even then...I made a ton of stupid mistakes. And now it's their turn!
12/4/2013 02:14:40 am
If only I could have know all those things, and yet, if the kindest most loving, caring person had come and gently said them to me would I have listened? Probably not. Humans have a hard time learning lessons, and I will cry if I start counting all the lessons it took me multiple failures and much pain to learn. Would I do it again- oh yeah!!
12/4/2013 02:37:01 am
No one ever learns from someone else's mistakes, unfortunately. Part of being young is thinking it's everyone else that's dumb. It's part of what makes the human condition so awful and wonderful.
12/4/2013 03:30:12 am
I love the part about showing more patience to your mom! I quit prior job and took less stressful more part-time job to spend an entire day a week with my mom! She's had some harrowing surgeries lately so I took the plunge! Tough at times but so worth it! Finally, a good decision on my part! Yay!
12/4/2013 05:57:17 am
You will be so happy you did that, seriously. Good for you! Good call.
Such an amazing list, Kathleen. I can relate with most everything on this list, especially the advice to WAIT. Boy, if I could go back and slap my 20 year-old self across the face with this advice. WAIT, dear child. It doesn't all have to happen RIGHT NOW. Thanks for sharing your honest reflection. I think I'll try my hand at this list on my blog soon.
12/4/2013 05:57:59 am
I know, right? We think tomorrow will never come. But it does...in spades.
12/4/2013 07:28:38 am
What a great post!! Where have you been all my life? Following you is an opportunity I'm not going to miss (see what I did there?). Hahhaaa
12/4/2013 10:25:18 am
Thank you so much for reading! And feel free to take the opportunity...I'm so grateful (see how I worked that in?).
12/4/2013 08:23:08 am
I take issue with the fact that you've never concluded that you're fantastic, because you really are!
12/4/2013 10:24:19 am
Awww. How sweet are you?
12/4/2013 08:43:38 am
As always - well thought, well written and a pleasure to read! It would have been nice if I'd learned these at a younger age. Wait...I'm still working on a few. But at least I've learned not to tell anyone which ones they are. That's something, right? Right?
12/4/2013 10:27:38 am
I conveniently left out that old dogs (me) still haven't learned any new tricks!
12/5/2013 01:35:07 am
A very enlightening blog ... how true it is! Once again, you have totally amazed me!
12/5/2013 07:15:08 am
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