8 Things I Wish I Could Tell My 17-Year-Old Self

If I had a time machine, there are about a million different notable people from history who I’d want to go back in time to talk to. There’s also one special little snowflake in 2008–bouncing around in her wrinkled high school uniform kilt, thinking she’s got the whole world figured out–who I would love to talk to. 17-year-old me. If I could go back in time and talk to my 17-year-old self, here’s what I would tell her:

  1. Cool it with the self-tanner. In a few months, one of your cousins will tell you that your fingers look like Cheetos and that your hands are “dangerously cheesy” and you will realize that he is right. So why not just quit it now, before you get to that point? It is okay to be fair-skinned. You are Irish and Swedish; no one expects you to have a golden/orange glow in the dead of February. And your sheets will thank you.
  2. Stop obsessing over how many Myspace friends you have. This won’t even be a thing in like three years. While you’re at it, maybe spend less time on the computer altogether. Ten years from now, you will be an adult and spending 8 hours a day on a computer for work. You are an unemployed child right now, which means you blessedly have free time during the daylight hours. Jesus Christ, go outside and run around! Get some fresh air, some sun, some Vitamin D. In a few years, you’re going to need to take supplements for that shit!
  3. Don’t dumb yourself down to make a guy feel important. You will have crushes on some less-than-stellar guys throughout high school, and you will let them explain things to you, things you already know and understand–things you sometimes know way more about than they do, actually. But you will sit and listen with rapt attention as if they are spouting dogma. Girl, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but there will come a point when you will let a guy explain to you what a biscotti is. For like, ten minutes. That’s precious time you’re never going to get back! You know what a biscotti is. Quit playing dumb to let a guy feel like a big shot. There are plenty of good guys out there who appreciate smart, outspoken women. Recognize that, and stop playing down your intelligence.
  4. You have great taste in music. Keep up the good work with those mix CD’s and iPod playlists, because ten years from now you will still be jamming out to them. Andrew McMahon and Ben Folds never get old. (I mean, they themselves age I’m sure–but their albums are timeless.) But get excited, you will discover some awesome new bands in the next 10 years, and will go to some awesome concerts too. Still, nothing will ever top Andrew McMahon dancing on his piano at that Jack’s Mannequin concert in your junior year of high school. Sa-woon.
  5. Don’t take your amazingly awesome sister for granted, you naive little cotton-headed ninny-muggins! There will come a day when you’ll no longer get to share your childhood bedroom with your BFF since birth. The nights of staying up late, laughing uncontrollably, and having nonsensical conversations from twin beds with matching bedspreads will not last forever. Which isn’t to say that you won’t always be besties. Staying up late, texting from separate residences, and tagging each other in ridiculous memes on Instagram is pretty fun too. (And much more high-tech, no?) But it’s not quite the same. So enjoy these moments while you can, and for the love of God, stop borrowing Julie’s shoes without asking. Not cool, dude.
  6. On the subject of shoes, don’t wear slip-on flats on rainy days. Specifically, don’t wear Julie’s gold slip-on ballet flats to the park that day in the summer-time, when a really bad rainstorm will come out of nowhere, causing you and your not-yet-licensed friends to hoof it to the mall in the pouring rain to seek shelter. While darting across a major intersection during the downpour, one of Julie’s flats will slip off of your foot, and you will have to leave it there, and watch in horror as an 18-wheeler heads straight towards it. Miracle of miracles, the shoe ends up unharmed. But this incident will cause you a huge amount of stress, which I’m convinced is why I’m already starting to find gray hairs on my head, at the tender age of 27. #momentofsilence
  7. Speaking of hair, easy with the bleach there, sista-friend! Someday, you will need to use artificial color to cover those pesky grays. But right now, you’re at a time in your life where those problems seem to be decades away. (LOL, sorry girl, not quite decades.) You have a nice natural hair color. Just let it be, instead of feeling the need to highlight or bleach it to fit some arbitrary standard of beauty you’ve decided to deem important. Blondes do not, necessarily, have more fun. They do, however, have more need for regular deep-conditioning treatments if they want to avoid breakage. And those fancy bottles of goop ain’t cheap!
  8. Be patient. You don’t need to have your whole life mapped out at this point. Yes, there is that one girl in your chem class who already knows who she wants to marry and where she wants to go to med school some day, which is awesome for her. But it’s also okay to not know. To figure things out as you go along. To enjoy the journey and not worry so much about where it’s leading. Just make time for the things that light a fire in your soul and the people who make your heart happy. Be kind. Work hard. Be the best, brightest, shiniest you that you can be. And then surrender. The pieces of your life can’t fall into place if you’re gripping them tightly, always needing to be in control. Let go. Stretch your hands. Breathe in. Breathe out.

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