I’m turning 37 in a little over a month. (Jesus, typing that out felt odd.) Since I work with clients that are getting ready for that big phase in life during which I had such a hard time, I thought about what advice I’d give to someone about to go through it. Maybe they’re not feeling the same way I did then, but there may be a person out there who does. At any rate, I want to share.
Today, I live what many people would see as a charmed life – house, husband, happy kids, career – but it never always seemed so. Twenty years ago, as I was preparing to enter my senior year of high school, things were dark for me. People who knew me in passing will probably be surprised by that statement, because I always put on the mask of “everything is OK,” but it’s true. My closest friends know about the rough stuff I went through, and I won’t rehash it here. Needless to say, there was a lot going on that could wreck a person mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
If I could talk to my 17-year-old self, I’d want to tell her lots of things. I’ve boiled it down to five key things.
Dear 17-year-old me,
Number 1: It will get better.
First and most importantly, things will get better. When you’re 37, things that matter now, won’t. Every time you feel like there’s not any hope, remember that you are completely unique to the world – you can’t be replaced. You’ll cry and you’ll feel pain, but with that comes growth and change for the better. You’ll still feel sad and empty at times, but you will have a support system. It. Will. Get. Better.
Number 2: Your friends will change.
The people who promised to always have your back will move on with their lives as you get closer to college and adulthood. This isn’t anyone’s fault – it’s just what happens. You will feel isolated sometimes, but there are a few who are true. Be a friend to everyone, and they’ll remember you for it. A smile and a kind word can go a long way for some, even if they’re not reciprocating. Don’t let feeling alone KEEP you alone.
Number 3: What you think you want will change.
Right now, your plan is to be a teacher. (You’ll eventually achieve it, and you’ll be good at it, but you’ll want more.) You’ll meet people in college who sway your decisions, your path will shift, and you’ll learn more about who you are at your core. You’ll find your place in the world.
Number 4: You will have your heart broken (even more).
High school hasn’t been the greatest in the romance department. You’ve thought up some scenarios for college, but I have bad news. The dream guys you have in your head don’t exist. People will try to manipulate you because you’re a kind and loving person. Some will succeed, but not for long. Because you know yourself, you will break free and be stronger for it.
Number 5: You will know unconditional love.
After you are broken and pick yourself up, you will know what it means to be loved without condition. Not only is your family backing you up all the way, you will meet a person that sees you for your spirit – who encourages your desires and engages your mind. He’s out there.
If you can only remember one of these things, remember number 1.
Your 37-year-old self
PS – Bonus tip Number 6: Buy stock in a company called GOOGLE. You’ll retire young. But mostly the other 5 things. ;)
Baton Rouge Photographer. Jennifer Esneault is a portrait photographer serving Baton Rouge and surrounding areas. To book, call (225) 939-5781.