as seen on apocalypticbob
15 years ago I was 25. That was the "existential birthday" because after 25, I hadn't imagined at all what my life would be like. I had detailed expectations for every year up till 25, then 26? No clue what I should be doing with myself. Interesting, I haven't thought of that in a long time.
At 25, 15 years ago, I was back living at home with my mom. My dad had just died, about 6 months earlier. We were living in a house we rented, very near to the school that she worked at (also my old junior high). Our house had a little cement and stones waterfall-pond in the backyard, and mom spent hours dredging out that pond, shortly after we moved in. We wanted to put some goldfish in it. We discovered, once it started raining, why it needed mud dredged out of it: the rest of the yard was on a slight upslope, and the dirt from the lawn and garden flowed down hill when the waterlogged dirt... yeah. =) I loved that yard: spending time watching the fish, practicing kata on the back porch. I had just started the librarian job in the Grant district, was doing taekwondo at the community college, and feeling physically strong for the first time in my life. Emotionally, not so strong, though.Advice for the Me of Fifteen Years Ago:
(Granted if I had taken it I wouldn't be where I am today:)
* Gods, DITCH Francis already. He's not emotionally available, he's sarcastic and unsupportive, his parents are clutterholics, and so is he. He wants to keep everything the same. This is not a relationship that will help you to grow.
* Keep up with the Taekwondo. But: find a mentor who you feel comfortable going to for help in breaking down complicated moves, find someone who you can ask stupid questions of, regularly (and get used to asking uncomfortable, stupid questions). Practice jumping kicks at home, and ask for specific drills involving falling and getting over the fear of falling. And if this Do-jang doesn't do that, find another class to take, because it was the fear of asking for help/looking foolish and the fear of falling and hurting yourself that caused the knee-sprain. Twice.
* When you realize after about a year that you are still PISSED at dad for dying and everything else, give a call to that 800 number for employee mental health, and find someone to talk to about this, keep calling till you find someone. It's not natural nor good for you to be angry for six years and to be unable to remember any of the good things about your father. Also, that headspace puts you as a good match for another emotionally unavailable, sarcastic first husband. =( Talking to people is a Good Thing, and asking for help, well, you won't get help unless you do, and you won't know if you'll get help UNTIL you do ask, so talk to people.
* In that same vein, say yes more often to social events with people you like and who like you. It's good for you and builds your self-esteem and the friendships with those people as well. (The number of social events I flaked on, to have a date with a boy who didn't really make me happy...!)
* Make more stuff. Actually USE your craft supplies, you'll be sorry you didn't. Make gifts for friends and family, even if you "don't think it's good enough". The pillow that Scotty saved the dog's hair to stuff? Make that first. =(
* Do more professional development in the librarian gig, and find more ways to interact with the kids. Follow up on the mobile mini-library idea for classroom projects. Pick the brains of the English and history teachers more. Go do social stuff with Sandy and Cathy and ask Regina and Sharon out to tea. Knowing smart, experienced, older ladies is Good. Also, look into academic counseling at Sac State, you won't finish the teaching credential your first time through, but they'll understand, what with dad dying. They might be able to help you stay on track or find support services, bereavement counseling, stuff like that.
* Call your brother more. Find out more about his life, his girlfriend Sarah, have him tell you more tacky fraternity stories and explain why his fraternity was so important to him. Ask him about the trip to Hawaii, and about coaching his baseball team. Find a way to get down there and go out to dinner with him and Sarah.
* Call your sister more. Even awkward conversation is better than no conversation. Get to know Matt, and you and Jen can learn ways to support each other, and to support mom (and Scott) as well, through the grieving period. (I don't have any memories of spending time with my sister during the first year after dad died. I may be misremembering but yeah.)
* Try casual dating, and dates-with-friends. Also, dates-with-self. Strengthen the muscles of independence and self-sufficiency.
* I'd say "purge the clutter" or "get rid of the crap" but I know the crap is a security blanket that isn't going anywhere till you feel better about yourself. In addition to working on your social skills and other crafty things, try going to Al-anon, and hell, learn more about being an Adult Child of Alcoholics. Fran gave you that book because she recognized where you were, even if you didn't. Believe her. Try a meeting.
* Learn to give yourself manicures and pedicures. Seriously, you ARE worth the effort to learn to do such small things that make you happy, make you feel pretty.
* Hug your mom more. Take her along when you go out to walk the dog. Talk to her more, ask for stories of your dad from college and when they were early dating.
* Take your mom out on social events as often as she will let you. She was very very lonely for a very long time, even married to your dad and with you kids and the social life she did have... and she was primary caretaker of your dad during his final illness, even if you helped. She deserves some good times with loving, friendly people, and she won't meet them on her own for over 10 years. Help her out, it'll help you out as well.
* Enjoy the pagan community you're on the verge of joining. Talk with those folks more often, they'll be good for you. Read the books they recommend, seriously, READ them. All the way through. And read some more original sources, too, and as much other mythology as you can lay your hands on. This will be more fun and more useful than getting lost in crappy romance novels. They're good people. If you have to be shy, be shy, but ask them about themselves, learn more about who they are, how they problem solve, and the obstacles they've had in their own lives. This will help you problems-solve, and overcome your own obstacles, and again, give you confidence in your friendship-building skills, coincidentally more friends as well. =)
* Just so you know, you are sexy, and there are often people who think you are cute and want to see more of you. Don't grip so hard onto a relationship because you are worried no more are going to come around. There is enough, you have enough, you are enough. Feed yourself before you feed EVERYBODY else around you. You know about being alone, it hurts but it's not the worst pain ever.
* BTW, the worst pain ever? It's yet to come. You will handle it, and you will learn what you're made of, and it will open your eyes to who and what you are, where you are, and what your path is. It's a kind of birth. Remember that, and treat it as such.
* Be honorable, and be honest. Live by those two rules as much as you can, and treat yourself with kindness and respect.
... If you like, write a letter to the Yourself of Fifteen Years Ago, (assuming you're old enough to have figured out some life-lessons to share with that Yourself), and share with me.