Your life isn’t going to turn out quite the way you want it to or expect it to, but you know what, that’s not a bad thing. 1. You’ll never be blonde, thin, short, or tan, but somewhere in your mid-20s, you’ll grow into your looks. You will also find men (please note the plural) who adore brunette, curvy, tall, fair-skinned girls.
2. The popular girls don’t necessarily have it any more together or have easier lives than you do. We all fight our own battles.
3. Going away to college is only the third-best thing you’ll do for yourself. More about the second and first later.
4. You don’t know everything. Not only that, the more you learn, the more you’ll realize you still have left to learn. Be humble and teachable.
5. You don’t have to know everything. You can say, “I don’t know.” Knowing you, you’ll follow up with “Let me find out and get back to you” – not a bad thing at all. You can say, “I was wrong,” and most people won’t think less of you.
6. No job is beneath your dignity. Work is work and deserves respect. Even if you’re unhappy with what you’re doing, look at it as an opportunity to be of service. (Nothing wrong with making your exit plan at the same time, though.)
7. Your parents – particularly your father – and your grandparents are human beings, but they’re good human beings. Appreciate and love them as they are.
8. You and your brother are not always going to be as close as you are now. Be grateful for this time. The woman he marries is not going to be your best friend, and in fact, may not like you much at all. Let go of that fantasy and accept her as she is. You’ll have plenty of “sisters,” particularly your female cousins.
9. Don’t let “fat, slow and uncoordinated” define you. Move for the sheer joy of moving your body. Don’t worry about how you look. BTW, your Dad’s right that going for a walk, working in the yard, or doing some other physical activity is good for your moods as well as your body.
10. Asking for help does not make you weak or flawed.
11. Given the choice between being right or being kind, in most instances, choose being kind. That doesn’t mean compromise your ethics, but it does mean learn how to tell people to go to Hell in such a way that they’ll look forward to the trip. That also doesn’t mean let people walk on you, but it does mean choose your battles wisely.
12. There is always something to be grateful for. Always.
13. Learn how to manage money. Money is power; use it wisely. Don’t buy into the idea that creative people don’t need to know how to manage money.
14. Get organized now. Notice how your Mom almost never seems to have a hard time finding something. You don’t have to be as compulsive as she is, but organization is not your enemy.
15. Your habit of trying to “rescue” or “fix” people is going to catch up with you. You are going to be very frustrated. You’re better off accepting people where they are right now, and at the same time, deciding whether you really want those people in your life. There are some people you’re better off caring about from a distance.
16. Date without expectations; just have fun and relax. You’re not going to fall in love till you’re 25, and you’re not going to fall really deeply in love till you’re 30. You’re going to meet the great love of your life at 36, but he’ll break your heart by dying too young. But you will come through that grief a stronger, better person and open to loving again (I’m telling myself this, too).
17. Don’t settle for the first man who expresses an interest in you. You’ll hurt him and be unhappy yourself.
18. Not all sex outside marriage is dirty; it depends on why you’re doing it and with whom. Recreational sex is fun, but sex with someone you love is life-changing.
19. Right now, you can’t see yourself ever struggling with your relationship with God. You will, though, for a long time. But He will never forget or abandon you, and you will see how he’s carried you all this time. You’ll have issues with the tradition you were raised in, and you’ll find your own path. This is the second-best thing you’ll do for yourself; don’t give up on God, because He didn’t give up on you and never will.
20. I’m not going to tell you, “Don’t ever pick up a drink,” because when you get sober, you’re going to reconnect with God, learn about yourself, and meet the best friends you’ll ever have in your life. I am going to tell you, “Get help as soon as your drinking becomes a problem.” You hit bottom when you stop digging. That’s the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself.
The best is yet to come. Be true to yourself, and be the best possible version of yourself that you can be.
Love you, Meghan K. Donovan