Grams always tells me that you can’t put an old head on young shoulders, but wouldn’t it be great if you could? There are so many things that I wish I knew years ago and advice that I wish I could give my younger self. I was a stubborn girl but surely I’d take advice from myself! Below is my list of sage wisdom that I would impart on the younger Scarlet Pen.
What would you tell your younger self? Thank you for reading my letter and please let me know what yours would say in the comments below!
My Letter To Me
Dear young, naïve, and determined Scarlet,
I know that you don’t like to listen to anyone. You think that you know best and that your way of doing things is the only way (and if not the only way, certainly the best way). I’ve lived life on the path that you’re setting out right now and while it did lead to a pretty great place, you are not always right! In fact, I’m going to give you a list of things that will help you on your journey to becoming an awesome young woman (if I do say so myself).
Don’t bleach your hair blonde. I know that you really want to and I’m not going to lie: it looks fan-freaking-tastic. However, it will also destroy your hair and turn it into the consistency of hay…which I now have to deal with because you wanted to be a blonde bombshell. Just don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Besides, your hair is a nice colour and it’s so shiny! Do you really want to give that up?
You will have your heart broken. I’m not going to tell you when because it made you a stronger, better, and wiser person, so I wouldn’t want you to avoid it. I’m sorry to say that you will feel like you’re going to die though. In fact, you even tell mom that you think you’re dying and that she couldn’t possibly understand. I will let you in on a little secret: you live; I’m proof of that. You will get through it and then you will realize he wasn’t worth it anyway. Really.
Don’t sleep with Eric. I could give you a few other names too, but let’s start there. Oh, but do sleep with JP. Don’t worry, you’ll marry him.
Know that you’re beautiful. You are such a beautiful girl and you are not too fat (not even close!). You have perfect skin and no cellulite! In fact, your “28 and counting” year old self will look back on photos of you as you are right now for fitness inspiration.
Respect your body. Seriously, put down the McNugget. You may be skinny now but you are creating really damaging eating habits that are going to haunt you for years. Nothing, even McNuggets, are worth that. Learn to cook early. Trust me, you will really enjoy it.
Speak up! You know that feeling you get when you’re too shy to speak your mind and then someone else says what you were going to say…and gets great feedback? Well, that feeling continues into your early twenties. Let’s nip it in the bud right now, shall we?
Stop being in such a rush to grow up. There isn’t a whole lot that is glamorous or fun about being a grown up. You think that it means you can do whatever you want but you’re forgetting that you’ll actually be able to do less because you’ll have more obligations (read: a mortgage, a career, and a never ending to do list). Enjoy every moment that you can because you will want this time back.
You don’t know everything. Really. In fact, you hardly know anything. Listen to the guidance that the people around you are trying to give you. If you stop getting in your own way, you will have a much easier time navigating through life.
You marry someone you never even saw coming and the exact opposite of who you expected. You know how you think that you deserve to marry that asshole you spent nearly a decade with? You know, the one who is abusive and makes you feel about an inch tall? Well, you’re wrong. You will marry a man who is exactly like dad and treats you like a princess. You can hardly believe it when you find him. Do not let him go.
Don’t let any man disrespect you, ever. I promise that none of them are worth what it will do to your self-esteem. Your most important male relationship was your first one: dad. He showed you how you deserve to be treated and you really need to believe him. He loved you so much and would have done absolutely anything for you. Your husband should do the same (and he does). You’ll notice that I am talking about dad in the past tense. I will get to that.
You’re going to lose your dad far too early. You’re a daddy’s girl. I know that you can’t imagine life without his guiding compass. It’s still hard for me to imagine it. He’s not going to meet your potential future children and he didn’t get to walk you down the aisle on your wedding day. That broke both of your hearts and you probably won’t ever be able to bear the sight of a father daughter dance at a wedding. But he did get to meet JP and he did impact your life in ways that will transcend his death.
He’s not here now and I can’t explain to you how badly and deeply that hurts. I don’t think it will ever go away. But I promise that he didn’t lose his ability to guide you just because he’s gone. You will still be able to hear his voice in your head and I hope that we never lose that. Writing his eulogy will nearly break you and reading it at his funeral is the hardest thing you’ve done to date. You need to do it though because it meant a lot to mom and dad deserves it. Don’t worry. JP will be right there beside you, like always.
It will be hard to see your friends get to do things with their dads that you will never get the chance to do. It’s also hard to hear them disrespect their dads and not be grateful that they still have them. Try not to become bitter. You had the best dad ever, your #1 superhero, and he wanted to live and stay here with you. He didn’t want to miss anything from your life and he tried so hard to beat cancer. It’s not fair, but it’s the hand our family has been dealt. Focus on what you’ve gained by being dad’s daughter (no one can take that away from you) rather than what you’ve lost through his death.
Sometimes, mom really does know what she’s talking about. I know she sounds ridiculous sometimes and you think she couldn’t possibly know anything about anything, but she does. She can save you a lot of heartache if you stop having such a bad attitude and just listen.
Know your value. There will be men who just want you for your body and friends who just want you for your stuff. You feel too insecure to be able to recognize this and you’re also way too trusting. Only give your loyalty to the people who deserve it and know that you are worth respecting.
Quality over quantity in terms of friendship is actually true. Right now, you have a lot of people to go out with but they aren’t your real friends. I know it’s hard to hear that, but it’s true. They won’t be there for you when things get hard and it will hurt when they let you down. Your social circle will dwindle down significantly but the relationships that you do have will become stronger. Only keep people in your life who deserve to be there.
Stop worrying so much. Most of the things you worry about don’t even end up happening (I can tell you that with certainty). There’s a lot of things in life that you can’t control and you need to accept that rather than trying to change it (or continuously dwelling on it).
Know that your best is enough. All that you can ever do is your best. Sometimes, you’re going to make mistakes but it’s true what they say: your mistakes are experiences that will help you learn and grow as a person. No one can expect more than your best and you need to stop being your own harshest critic. Try being your own biggest supporter instead.
Take more pictures. Life is short, time goes by so fast, and your memories will eventually fade. Pictures are so important, so take a moment and snap some!
One day I will need a letter from my “38 and counting” year old self. Life is a constant learning curve and what you consider crucial at this very minute seems trivial from where I’m sitting. There is certain wisdom that can only be gained by living and you can’t always give someone the benefit of your experience. However, if I could, the above is exactly what I’d tell you. I only hope that you’d listen.
A Scarlet who knows better