This post is part of something my blogging buddies in a group called Generation Fabulous refer to as a “blogroll.” I’m complying with their request because I love them all, but please don’t ask me what I’m doing because I have no idea. (I think we’re all linking to each other’s posts...yeah, that’s the ticket!)
My birthday is in late September, so the summer before I turned 20, I was still technically 19, but I don’t believe that I was much different at 19 than I was at 20, so when I talk to my 19-year-old self, I’m talking to my 20-year-old self too. Got it?
That summer I was part of a large group of teens (remember, I was still a “teen”) who traveled to Israel to work on a kibbutz and do some touring around the country. I had a “boyfriend” who shouldn’t have been my boyfriend because he was also someone else’s boyfriend, and I was fed up with him and everything else that was going on in my young, but very complicated life. And being the very dramatic young woman I was back then, I approached my parents and screamed that I just wanted to “get away!” When I proposed the idea of heading thousands of miles away with a youth group, my mom and dad balked at first, but I had the smarts to find a Jewish group (because every Jewish youth group is upstanding and righteous, and abstains from alcohol, drugs and sex--uh-huh). When the group I chose was “properly” vetted, they agreed and off I went.
I won’t go into detail about the summer, but it was quite eventful, from a 19-year-old ‘s point of view. It was a glorious eight-week vacation that consisted of working in the kibbutz fields and kitchens, touring on buses, sunbathing around the pool (remember, this was a Jewish youth group), and dancing in the bomb shelter-cum-kibbutz disco where the sweaty young soldiers and locals would try their best to grind the “sophisticated” young American, Canadian, and French girls. You might say the summer was a lesson in interpersonal relationships, so to speak.
There is a line from a book/movie that comes out many years from now, but it applies to you: “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” I know you know that sometimes, but you forget those great attributes when it matters and that will drive you into a rut. Your lack of self-confidence will hold you back from many wonderful opportunities. I think the girl you are at 20 could probably teach the girl,and then woman, you become a thing or two about bravery and boldness. You went on this trip knowing no one, and yet the idea of spending eight weeks with strangers in a strange land seemed exciting to you.
But that momentum doesn’t last, and you wind up having no direction once you get home. You fall back into the same patterns that you had been so anxious to get away from. I wish you would have asked more questions and sought out more mentors--people who would have given you direction. Find a career you will get great satisfaction from, and if you don't, then look again, and perhaps something in the "cooking field" (hint, hint) might be something you should consider.
You knew that you were capable of doing anything, but yet finding a boyfriend who would define your worth seemed more important too often (and boy, you did find some doozies). I wish you could have asserted yourself in so many of those relationships. But don’t worry, eventually you do find “the one.” It just takes you a while, and you come very close to not recognizing the signs.
And looking back through an over 30-year-lens I see you have difficulty recognizing signs...a lot. I know you were schooled on obsessing about what you didn’t have, as opposed to what you had, and I wish it wouldn’t have taken you so long to see the other side of that coin. But, know that it does flip...eventually.
I’m not telling you to be satisfied. I’m telling you to accept the good and change the not-so-good. Don’t settle, and (I know I’m sounding like your mom here) don’t be lazy.
And oh, the places you’ll go. Embrace them and think of them as adventures, not trips to Hell. Because your attitude will affect your children--yes, children. They will be amazing, and when you are unhappy, they will be unhappy.
And there’s one more thing: cut your parents some slack. Yes, they are the cause of many, many stressful days and nights in your future, but if you learn how to handle them and try to understand them a little better, you won’t suffer from agita all the time. They will eventually be gone, and you’ll make your peace with them, but sooner would be better than later for your physical and mental health.
Look to your future with wide-eyed, stomach-tumbling anticipation, not with dread. It will be a wild ride--enjoy it.
And one more thing...lose the Dorothy Hamill haircut. It’s not becoming, and it will be out of style very soon. And watch those steps at the Park Street T station...they’re a killer.