Letters To Your Past Self

Many, many years ago, I was involved in a prank that took a terrible turn.

Right after high school, I worked in a fancy chocolate store where non-stop hijinks ensued. I love a good practical joke, and the combination of personalities and lack of supervision led to constant mean pranks. In the course of a night, I was often locked out, sprayed with water, or fake “fired” in front of a store full of customers by another employee wearing a fake manager nametag.

This isn’t to paint me as the innocent victim; I gave as much as I got. Our joke wars were constantly escalating, and I began to wonder when and if a line would ever be drawn, or if we were going to end up burning the store down at some point.

One day, I had to use the restroom. As I began my walk to the bathroom, my coworker darted in front of me. “Me first!” he said, and slammed the bathroom door in my face.

Fine. I waited a few minutes, and soon he came sauntering out with a giant grin on his face.

“All yours,” he said, holding the door for me.

Immediately suspicious, I tentatively entered, and then realized the reason for the grin.

He had taken at least a pound of fudge and crafted it into…well, you can use your imagination. This enormous log filled the whole bottom of the bowl, curling up onto the seat itself. Ugh.

Refusing to give him the satisfaction of a response, I waited a few minutes, flushed, and ignored the ominous gurgling. I then nonchalantly returned to work. “How was the bathroom?” he asked.

“It’s a bathroom,” I responded. “How exciting can it be?”

Fast forward to the next day…

Out of all the employees, my friend Pam was the most mature one, the one who actually did work and never lowered herself to our shenanigans. She called my house in a state of horror after her shift that day.

“I cannot believe this. I am so humiliated. I went to the bathroom at work today and the toilet overflowed and…oh my God, you have no idea what came out. It was like the apocalypse. I don’t even know where it all came from! It was everywhere, just piles…and the manager had to call her husband to come with a plunger and unclog the toilet. I want to die. The whole floor was flooded. I can never show my face there again.”

Oh, no. For a moment, I debated whether to come clean. But I was an immature and selfish 18 year old, so instead I took a vow to never, ever reveal my secret. I commiserated with her and got off the phone as quickly as I could, unable to handle the guilt.

Twenty years later, I was contacted by a friend of Pam’s to take part in a memory book. It was her 40th birthday, and we were all told to write out our most fond memories of our friendship with her. It was my perfect opportunity to come clean.

So I wrote a long, detailed confession, and it was a huge hit. Surprisingly, she is still my friend after learning of my betrayal.

Fast forward ANOTHER eight years, and she came up with the idea to create a book of life lessons for her young niece. It’s all based on the question: what have you learned throughout your life as an adult that you wish you knew back when you were a teenager?

I know that there were SO many things I wish I had known back then. If I could return to my thirteen year old self as the woman I am today, and sit down to talk to her, here is what I would tell her:

People spend their whole lives waiting for what comes next that can make them happy. Waiting to lose those last few pounds. Waiting for the perfect job. Waiting for more money. Waiting to meet the perfect person. None of this matters unless you love yourself. Self-love will bring you everything that you desire. Confidence is the greatest gift you can hold. And guess what? Like everything else in life, you have to work at it. Every day, find one thing that you love about yourself, no matter how small or silly it may be, and believe the hell out of it. Because once you cultivate confidence, there is nothing that can hold you back from having and becoming all that you desire. Never let anyone else take this from you. When you hear others trying to tear you down, know that it is not about you. It is never about you. It only means that they want what they see in you, and it's painful for them. Rise above it, hold your head high, and know that this is not about you. No matter what happens in life, one day or year from now your life will look so different, it will be unrecognizable. Everything passes. Change is the only absolute constant in this world. The negative is always in transition, so relax into knowing that this too shall pass. The positive is always in transition, so take random moments to be still and silent and savor the good stuff like first bite of a delicious dessert. Every moment is a new opportunity for you to become a better version of yourself. Eat the good food. Don't ever wait for the right time to do what you want to do. The right time is now.

How about you? What lessons have you learned throughout your life that you wish your younger self had known?