As I raked the lawn a college girl drove down the street in her red convertible. I wanted to shout “Stop! There are things you need to know about life. I was once you!”
Would she listen to the middle aged woman doing mundane chores?
Here is what every young college girl driving a red convertible needs to know. Wear sunscreen every day. Because I wore sunscreen my face does not have the wrinkles and age spots it could after years of driving said convertible.
Do not color your hair at home. Sure a semi-permanent highlight kit every now and then would be fine. But really at your age your hair is perfect and needs no help. Wait for the coloring when the greys come out. And when they do come make sure you see a professional or you may end up with aubergine hair instead of chestnut.
Listen to your grandparents. Your grandparents have lived a long life and made many mistakes. They can save you the pain of making the same mistakes as them which will allow you to make your own different mistakes, and you will then pass your lessons on to your grandchildren. They say that a grandparent’s love is the most like God’s love. Listen to your grandparents, because like God they won’t steer you wrong. They can see things that you can’t even imagine.
Pick your friends wisely. Really you only need a few. You don’t need a sorority house full of them and you certainly don’t have to jump through hoops to gain entrance to the sisterhood of friendship. If you’re lucky your friends will be with you your whole life. They will be there when you get your first job, get married, have a baby, find out your husband has a brain tumor, and when your father dies. They will make you casseroles to feed your family when you are too sick or too sad to do so.
Be true to your friends. Sure boyfriends are nice, but don’t blow off your friends because of some boy. Don’t let any relationship take you away from your friends. If your love interest doesn’t allow you time to be with your girls, it’s not a healthy relationship.
Make decisions about your life based on what you want not what your boyfriend wants. If you’ve dreamed of being an improve actor in New York don’t look for a job in human resources in Cheboygan because your boyfriend got a job there. It is more important to wake up every day and have a job you can’t wait to get to than have a boyfriend. Love and marriage are hard enough, if you give up your dreams for someone love and marriage are almost impossible.
When it’s time to break up- BREAK UP. Don’t try to “stay friends.” It doesn’t work. It makes the heartache long and drawn out for both of you. Some day at your 20th high school reunion you can meet and chat with him and his wife and share stories from back in the day. Now is not the time to do that. You must move on without him.
As much as you love your career don’t let it interfere with your personal life. You will have good bosses and bad bosses. Do not lose one night’s sleep over work because unless you’re a brain surgeon it really doesn’t matter. The company you work for will get on without you; life will go on when you leave that job. Worry and sleep deprivation help no one. Leave work at work.
If you become a mother consider having a girlfriend or sister in the delivery room should complications arise. Your spouse may be in a state of shock by the whole process that when your face is swollen like a pumpkin and the doctor asks him if you always look like that he’ll respond yes. Your sister or girlfriend will be able to answer “No she’s retaining water and it looks like she’s losing consciousness.”
Once you bring that baby home from the hospital listen to everyone who says “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Sleep deprivation will make you miss some of the most fleeting and precious moments of motherhood. When your baby sleeps do not fold laundry or do the dishes. Eat off paper plates for a month or two and let your friends help with the laundry as they truly want to.
Do not beat yourself up. You are beautiful right now. You are too young to know it. You think you are too fat, and your skin is too red, and your chest is too small. You will one day look at pictures of yourself taken in this moment and think “I was pretty and I didn’t know it.”
Learn to accept compliments. Oddly enough you will not be complimented on the things you think you should be – the things that are hard for you to do. The things that come easy to you are the things that will amaze others. They will thank you for your organization skills, the visit to the hospital, or the letter you wrote. These things come easy to you – they don’t come easy to others. Give the other person the benefit of accepting the compliment.
When a friend loses someone to death go to the wake. No one likes wakes; you aren’t supposed to like them. However, like going to the dentist, there are certain things you have to do even if it makes you uncomfortable. At the wake you say to your friend or coworker or neighbor, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Don’t’ say anything else except maybe “This is horrible.” No one wants to hear “It’s all for the best” or “There’s a reason for this.” When someone is grieving they want people to acknowledge the pain. The whole process for you will take about ten minutes. For the one in grief those ten minutes you gave will be worth more than any flower arrangement you could send.
Finally, some day you won’t drive a convertible. That will be okay. When that day comes you need to be ready to pass on your wisdom to the next girl in the red convertible.