I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would say to my younger self. What would I say if I could time travel and have time for a heart to heart with 13-year-old Lisa? As it turns out, there is a huge list of things. Certainly more than I ever would have expected. It’s the lessons that 43-year-old Lisa is still learning, or that I have learned.
To 13-year-old Lisa:
- Wear sunscreen every day, especially on your face. You’ll hopefully avoid having the nasty scars I have on my back from having mohs surgery in a dermatologist’s office. They were benign.
- Wear earplugs to the hundreds of concerts and shows you will attend. I haven’t been to a concert in years, but still listen to music too loud in the car. If people are facing away from you and speaking, sometimes you won’t understand what they’re saying due to some of the hearing damage. You’ve seen Metallica in concert 33 times, and yes, loud and heavy is still your jam.
- Don’t smoke. Trust me. You don’t want to do this as it creates more wear and tear on your body than you’ll ever want to think about. I don’t even want to get into the wrinkles. Which is another reason to wear sunscreen every day.
- Avoid sugar. It makes you feel like warmed over dirt and still does.
- Avoid fat-free anything. It’s horrible for your skin and hair. Instead, focusing on eating foods that aren’t processed. Learn to love avocados.
- Life is too short for bad coffee. Look for high quality beans and use 2T per cup of water. Mom’s coffee isn’t good coffee, but she likes it and you’ll never change her.
- Go to bed early and get up early. I’m still learning this lesson and wish I had known what a good sleep schedule would do for me.
- Read more. You always read a lot, but read even more, and focus on the classics.
- Your best friend of 20+ years is going to break you heart. It’s going to be ugly. You won’t trust any women for a long, long time. One day, you’ll meet a select few women who you’d trust your life with and those friendships will heal you.
- Travel more. I seem to have lost your fearlessness of picking up in the middle of the night to go on a grand adventure. But I’m trying to learn from you. When in doubt, refer to Bilbo Baggins.
- Learn more languages. You’ll feel less provincial.
- Stuff will never make you happy. Minimalism is a beautiful thing and the open, clutter-free spaces are your happy spaces.
- People can be cruel. I don’t care how often I’ve tried to find the inherit good, there are people out there who will never care about you. They will never support you. They will never be there for you. You’ll know who they are, but you have to put a stop to them and not let them trample you.
- Don’t ignore your inner voice. It’s going to tell you a lot things. You’ll know how those cruel people are and will learn to shut them out. Your inner voice will also be judgmental and cruel — to you. You won’t understand this now, but she’s a lot like Professor Umbridge in the Harry Potter series. Which means you will need to boot her out and find a new inner voice who respects you.
- Don’t listen to what other people say to you in anger. You’ll hear a lot of anger from the people who are supposed to love you the most. It’s not your fault. Their anger is fueled by their own inadequacies and self-loathing. You’ll hear a lot of things that you’ll believe. None of it’s true. I promise you that none of it is true.
- You’ll have a great love. It will take patience to find him, but don’t stress about it until you do. He’s out there and he’s as messed up as you are. The two of you together are better than the two of you apart.
- Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You’re going to lose a lot of opportunities because of fear. It sucks, but it doesn’t mean that you do.
- FOMO is fear of missing out. For a while it will attempt to eat you alive. Don’t let it and you’ll be a much happier person.
- People are going to talk about you. They always do. You already know this because your family is the worst culprits and made you paranoid because they discuss other people so much. Learn to block it and not care. It’s much easier said than done.
- Go the funerals. People don’t remember you showing up at their wedding, or birthday parties, but they remember the funerals. Send the handwritten card. Take the meal. Sit with them during their worst moments. It’s not about you, it is about them. Say “I don’t have words, but I love you and I am here.”
There’s more I could list here. If there is anything I have learned in life, it is that there is always more. So my message to 13-year-old me is learn from this list and I’ll share the next one when she’s ready.