What I wish I knew when I was 16

Over the weekend, Jeremy gave me an early Christmas present. He asked whether or not I would be upset if he told me what he was getting for me, and of course I was not! He surprised me with a trip to Office Depot to pick out a new desk and hutch for my home office. Since we moved in I have been going back and forth with how to decorate and set up the third bedroom, and I have decided that along with the desk, there will be a couch (with a pull-out bed for anyone who may spend the night), file cabinets, bookshelves, colorful throw rugs (thanks to my Mom!!) and soft lighting. I am excited for a place where I can clear my mind and feel calm.

And, seeing as how there won’t be any “little additions” to our family any time soon, a girly office is just what I had in mind. Win.

So anyway, the desk. We went to pick it up and on Sunday I started the process of re-organizing my files, craft supplies, and old journals. Now, I know better than to pick up those journals on more than a rare basis. The journals, dating back to when I was 10 years old, chronicle all the ups and downs of a young girl going from elementary school, to awkward middle schooler, to lost and confused teenager with big dreams and unrealistic expectations of what life is. The very essence of who I am comes out in those journals, because as I knew even then, why lie to myself? I just wasn’t thinking back then that one day I would be a woman in her mid twenties who would both laugh and cry (even cringe!) at the words written in them. They document good times, too numerous to even count. Years and years of family get togethers, funny memories, births, meaningful conversations with friends, starting a new school, and what is most crazy to me is that I can literally SEE all these experiences in my head, and I am so grateful that I was as dedicated as I was to writing it all down in great detail. However, there are bad times written there too, and in some of the journals, sadly this is the majority. I remember it all, the struggles of my sisters and I as we coped with a broken home. The sheer DESPERATION in my writing breaks my heart, as now I view the situation through the eyes of a mother. I forgive my parents for all we went through as a family (arrests, neglect, violence between each other, and no schooling for 4 years), but if I learned anything from dealing with adult situations at such a young age, it would be what I don’t want for Mason or any future children.

It wasn’t all bad, though. The high school journals are the hardest of all to read, because what was so important to me then is now just a distant memory, and I wish I could go back in time and impart to that girl what I know now. I thought I had it all figured out. Still don’t, but at least I have no trouble admitting it now!

So, 16-year-old Rachel, listen up! Here is what I WISH you knew:

There will always be someone who doesn’t like you, no matter how hard you try to alter your personality to fit whomever you are around at that time. It is NOT your job to make everyone happy, and those bitches? They are the way they are due to their own insecurities, and only they can help themselves. As long as you like yourself, you are doing just fine. Please just be YOU. Do not change who you are to be like THEM.

Boys are not everything. Yes, it’s true! Stop feeling like you need that boy to be complete. YOU are enough. You will have heartache, and that is just part of life. But instead of focusing all of your time and energy on making that boy notice you and laughing at all of his jokes (even if they aren’t funny), strengthen your bond with your girlfriends. They are the ones that understand what you are going through, and there is a good chance they will be the ones that are there when your children are born, when you get married, etc.

You don’t look THAT bad. Ok, so maybe we could do without the slicked back ponytail and the pencil-thin brows, but beyond that, knobby knees and flat chests are all a part of transitioning from teenager to woman. I wish you would stop comparing yourself to other girls, they are just as awkward as you. It pains me now to look back at pictures of these girls, because now I wonder what I was so jealous of (they look just as awkward as you). So next time you’re in the dressing room looking for shirts that show off your “cleavage”, just keep in mind that you are only able to wear tight t-shirts for a while, and someday you won’t be able to pull it off anymore (Your boobs grow 4 cup sizes bigger. *happy dance*).

Stop trying to rush the minutes, hours, days, years. Time only flies faster the older you get, and when you are 16, you just want to be 18. When you are 18, you wish for 21. Stop it!! Enjoy where you are in life RIGHT NOW. You won’t get it back. One day your life will be so full it will be difficult to find time for yourself. You wish for confidence, for stability… it will all come. So for now, enjoy the weeknights alone in your room with nothing else but a book. Those nights will one day be rare, girlfriend.

And lastly..

Stop worrying about the future! You have a good head on your shoulders, a kind heart, and all the time in the world. But just to put your mind at ease, it all works out. You will work hard, and one day be a leader of a large group of people. You will make mistakes (BIG ONES), and be very hurt. You will lose friends and people who were practically family. You will meet the perfect boy (who is hot, btw), and he will love you so much he will marry you. You will own a home and cars (and have anything you want, because you have learned to work hard). You will have a darling little boy who loves you with his whole heart. YOU ARE CONFIDENT, BEAUTIFUL, and SUCCESSFUL! So rest easy, and focus on being the best you can be.

xo

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