On Approaching the Quarter Century Mark.
With my 25th birthday just around the corner, I thought I’d reflect a little bit upon life and the crazy and wonderful twists and turns it has taken in the past few years.
2011 is a big year. And not just because my birthday is February 11th. (02/11…2011. Get it?)
It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years since I graduated high school and a decade since 9/11. In the past 10 years, I’ve lived in 3 states, studied abroad in France, traveled around Europe, climbed pyramids in Mexico, volunteered in Nicaragua, helped rebuild homes after Hurricane Katrina, got a bachelor’s degree, started my master’s degree, slept a lot, ate a lot, gained some weight, lost some weight, found some gray hairs, became a group exercise instructor, took 20 students on alternative break trips to New Orleans and New York City, got inked, regretted ink, won a majorette competition in Disney World (pretty much forgot about that one…high school was SO long ago!), had 2 reconstructive surgeries…. the list goes on and on!
I’ve seen so much growth in my life. There have definitely been some speed bumps and detours along the way, but as a whole, I can honestly say I’m happier and healthier now than I have ever been before. As I reflect upon who I was as a teenager, it’s hard to believe I’m even the same person; there is so much I wish I had known then that I know now. Would I make any changes? I’d love to be able to say, “Nah. I’m all about living life with no regrets.” But let’s be real here–we all live with regrets and things we’d like to change. I’ve learned that regrets are okay; we all have them. But more importantly I’ve learned that life goes on.
As a follower of Jesus I’m constantly reminded of the gift of grace and the ability to start fresh (even if we do carry with us a few things that we’d change if we could). I also think that all of steps we take, obstacles we face, and encounters we have are learning experiences. Maybe we make the right decision at the wrong time, the wrong decision at the right time, or just the wrong decision at the worst time imaginable; but that’s life. It’s not about perfection. It’s about living and learning and hoping that we make a better decision next time.
Looking back, I can’t help but think what life would have been like if I had a crystal ball to point me in the right direction. If I could write a letter to my then-self, these are some points I’d emphasize. Without further ado, here are some things I wish I had known when I was 15.
- It’s okay to think chemistry is lame. Don’t worry, as much as you think you’ll study medicine, you won’t even major in a science in undergrad.
- Yes, boys are weird and you don’t really understand what they’re thinking. The bad news is this doesn’t change a whole lot, and even though you know this, you still don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to dating. The good news is that you’ll grow into a confident, independent young woman. And you know that whether or not you ever meet the right one, you’ll be all right.
- I know you’re feeling like you don’t really jive with the church you’re currently attending. In about a year you’ll be involved with a wonderful youth group that will provide the foundation for an exciting faith formation. I know you hate that when you bring friends to church they can’t accept communion. You’ll later learn that your theology doesn’t really match up with the denomination you’re currently a part of. Don’t worry–you find the right church in college. And then, you’ll embrace your calling. It’s exciting and wonderful.
- You will not be a Pitt Panther. It’s fine. You don’t follow in the Augustine family tradition, but you go to one of the best colleges in America [bias noted ;)], where you grow up and discover what you love, who your friends are, and what you truly value. You’ll have the best 4 years of your life. Don’t take a single day for granted.
- Your parents bought you a guitar for a reason. Spend some time with it everyday.
- End the relationship before you board the plane for France. Don’t let him talk you out of it. Trust your instincts.
- Stay away from the fried chicken when you move to the South.
- Oh yeah, you’ll move to the South. You’ll pass up a fabulous opportunity to work in France to instead work in Rock Hill, South Carolina. It sounds crazy, but it happens. You’ll figure it out later.
- Don’t eat so many Doritos when recovering from your knee surgery. (It wasn’t easy losing 25 pounds after that surgery! No worries friends…the Doritos weren’t the only thing to blame.)
- Take a religion course at Allegheny.
- Stop taking yourself so seriously! Relax. Live a little. Write this down if you need a reminder.
Those are just a few things I’d remind myself if I could travel back in time. But if I had to do it all over again, I would! The truth is, I probably wouldn’t change a thing (well, maybe one or two less Doritos). Every moment has brought me where I am today, and for that, I am grateful
What about you? Anything you would change if you could travel back in time?