Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Okay Fine, I'll Pick On Someone My Own Size

I’m not a big fan of the word “regret”. It carries with it a negative association and I believe that when we live in regret, we lower our body’s energetic vibrations, making it more difficult to attract the positive things in life that we wish to receive. 

With that said, it’s still easy to wish that we had made some different decisions in our past. 

I am quite happy with the person that I’ve become. And, of course, I wouldn’t be who I am without every decision I’ve made up to this point. I do sometimes wonder, however, if I had made just a few different choices in the past, how different my life would be now. 

It must be so frustrating to be a parent. I imagine it’s especially difficult when you are the parent of a know-it-all (see teenager). I was convinced that my parents had no idea what the best choice for me was at any given time. After all, I was a different person than they were. I knew myself better than anyone else so how could someone think that my opinion on what was best could be wrong?? 

(insert uncomfortable laugh here...) 

I work with an 18 year old hostess at work who is getting ready to go off to college. She is sweet, cute and, knowingly, a bit on the naive side. She’s getting ready to leave all that she is used to in pursuit of what she hopes to be a step in the right direction. She’s handling it all quite well... she reminds me a little of me when I was that age. 

So, for fun, I thought maybe my 31 year old self would write my 18 year old self a letter with just a few things that I wish I would’ve done differently if I were able to step back in time. Perhaps an 18 year old out there might come across this and see things more diversely. After all, what the hell do our parents know? 

Dear 18 Year Old Tina, 

See? High school wasn’t THAT bad... I agree, it had a rocky start. But you did very well putting yourself out there, making some friends, getting good grades and taking a few fashion risks now and then... just enough to get people to notice without completely alienating yourself. Well done. 

Now that all that is over, I have to tell you - high school is a joke. It does not, in any way, get you prepared for the real world. It doesn’t even really prepare you for college. In retrospect, all high school really did was give you a very general idea of how idiotic people can be. Hmm... maybe there is some real-life prep work in there after all... 

My point is, your life begins now. You are no longer “required” to attend school, wear the right kind of jeans, have an “in” hairstyle and try desperately to hang with the popular people. Graduation puts us on equal ground again. It’s what you choose to do from this point on that is really going to make a difference in your life. 

First and foremost, you didn’t do too bad. You had a lot of great adventures and saw many amazing things. You met some incredible people and in this moment, your life is not too bad. However, there are three things that I think if I could, I would ask you to please do differently, in the hopes that maybe our life now wouldn’t require quite so much “hustle”. Take this advice as you will and just know that no matter what you choose to do, I love you and always will. 

1. Go to a University. 

You did well at the Fashion Institute. You graduated with a 3.9 GPA and an impressive portfolio of work. However, you did not need to spend two years and $36,000 for someone to tell you that you are a great artist. You already knew that. Yes, there is no doubt at all that your skills were fine tuned and, believe me, your art now is as exceptional as it’s ever been. But you still don’t want to be an artist - and that whole “coordinating fashion shows” thing was something you were never serious about to begin with. 

I remember what you were thinking at 18. You hated math, social studies (which blows my mind now given how fascinated I am with that subject these days) and history. You didn’t want to struggle in college with these General Education courses. Unfortunately, taking the easy way out didn’t benefit you in the long run. Art doesn’t pay the bills... at least not when you aren’t passionate about it. 

You had no idea how much you would get into sports later on in life. You know how much you love the NFL? College football is even MORE intense! No, seriously!! Think of homecoming week on the strongest steroids you can possibly imagine. And this is even if your team sucks! There is this amazing camaraderie that comes along with college sports that I don’t think you can find anywhere - not even a Raiders game. And while I don’t see cheerleading or softball as potential sports for you to participate in, you might have excelled well in enough in Cross Country or something to keep you involved in the sports program and out of the house parties. Just something to consider... 

Oh, and I still think you can major in Communications - just make sure it’s heavy on the Journalism/Creative Writing side of everything. You could land a dinky, minimum wage job working for some magazine or editor and have already established quite a name for yourself in the writing world by now. 

Selling for a hotel? You never wanted to do that... there went five years where you could’ve been running coffee or fixing typos for someone you actually aspired to be like and respected. Shit.. with everything you know about sports NOW, you could’ve broken ground as a reputable female writer for Sports Illustrated. Think about THAT! 

Because I’ll tell you something right now; you are a good writer and people actually read what you write. With the proper contacts and guidance, you could’ve made much quicker ground than I am making right now. Plus, you may not realize the extent to which you love writing but I’ll tell you with conviction: nothing makes you happier. 

2. Get braces 

This one may shock you a bit and I’m not trying to hurt your feelings. I know that at 18, you never thought about your teeth needing any kind of cosmetic assistance. You thought your overbite was cute and no one ever made you feel any different. And those few small chips in your front teeth? Those add character and remind you of your fun, youthful days of being a tom boy, right? 

Well, four wisdom teeth fighting for space and one too many harsh critics about your grill and you have become one insecure bitch when it comes to flashing an “award-winning” smile. 

Yeah, yeah... I know. Who wants to spend their college years with a mouthful of metal? I’ll tell you who: YOU. At 31 years old, I’m thinking I might still suck it up and get braces and, believe me, it’s going to be a lot harder on my self-esteem now then it will be for you. 

Don’t give me that “who gives a fuck about my teeth” thing, either. Ever since I realized that my teeth are less than attractive, all I do is stare at other peoples’ mouths in envy as they exude these big, boisterous laughs with their pearly whites flashing proudly. And it may sound stupid and superficial to you, but image is important if you want to get ahead quicker. I’ve landed a few jobs based on the fact that I am not too hard on the eyes but being given a chance as a new server at Chili’s because my rack looked nice in the sweater I wore is not that same as getting noticed for your confident and radiating smile. 

I don’t care how much it costs. Do it. 

3. Learn to say no. 

While I am mostly talking about men, this is still something in general that I want you to get used to doing. You tell yourself that you say yes to everything because you don’t want to miss out on any opportunities. You may have actually believed that at the time, but let me correct this: all you were doing was seeking approval. 

For years you have been held captive by approval. You dated certain men because you wanted them to like you, not because you liked them. You took jobs because you were afraid if you didn’t, something else wouldn’t come along and you were excited that those particular employers “wanted” you, even though you didn’t want them. 

You stayed involved with toxic friendships and relationships for so long because you didn’t want others to get mad at you for leaving or see you as imperfect if you spoke your mind and they didn’t agree with you. You started smoking because people in college made “coffee and cigarettes” for breakfast sound cool. You started smoking weed because it made you accepted with the cool and righteous crowd that “has it all figured out”. You drank too much because people dared you to “keep up” and you didn’t want to let them down. 

You cheated on the man that loved you more than anything because you didn’t want the hot guy at the office to think you were a prude. 

Well, let me tell you this before you start rolling your eyes... 

It took you twelve years to quit smoking cigarettes. In the meantime, you looked trashy, smelled disgusting and was slowly destroying your health in an effort to “look cool”. 

It took you ten years to quit smoking weed. Now that you don’t smoke it anymore, all of your “cool and righteous” friends have nothing to do with you. You see how their lives are going nowhere and realize that by not being able to pass a drug test, you kept yourself in mediocre and low paying jobs so that you could toke on your stupid little pipe every day, all the while saying “fuck the man”. Yeah, it’s HIS fault you aren’t further ahead... 

You’ve cheated death driving while drunk more than once. You’ve made terribly mistakes while being under the influence and even today, you don’t always know when to stop and have emotional bouts of unworthiness after a night of bingeing. I’m still trying to figure out what it is that makes you feel like you need to get drunk so often... so in retrospect, I am asking that you take it easy from the start. 

As far as all the men in your life, you have steamrolled over the sensitive side of some very caring men due to your careless words and actions. The universe had paid you back with a disease that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Every few months or so, you get a reminder of your irresponsible behavior. You are lucky that you have met a man that is sympathetic to your condition. But your breakouts are a constant voice of how saying no could’ve saved you a lot of heartache. 

And that’s it. Everything else you are going to experience is grist to the mill. Of course you are going to make mistakes - there are a few that I would really like to tell you to avoid... but like I said, it wouldn’t make you the person you are today. As I mentioned before, it’s only the hustle I wish I could avoid these days, not my thoughts, beliefs and actions as a human. 

Don’t stress out too much, either... you turn out to be pretty cool. Not everyone thinks so and you have to learn how to be okay with that. Stay clear with your intentions. That way, if others question your motives, you never need to defend yourself. 

Most importantly, love yourself always. Fat, thin, blond, brunette, whatever. Eat healthy and exercise regularly (you start doing this in your 20s and it makes all the difference in the world... but the earlier, the better). 

Love your family and cherish your friends. They are there for you even when you are convinced no one is. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I wish you all the best in your journey. It is an exciting one. 

Love Always, 
31 Year Old Tina 

P.S. Oh yeah... and don’t buy that Scion tC when you are 25. It was a terrible impulse buy. You got it to match the color of your eyes? Really??

2 comments:

  1. "Grist to the mill"...Nice one. =) And just for the record, I think 31 year old Tina is pretty effing cool. Of course all the other versions of Tina I remember were still pretty effing cool too.

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  2. Powerful, powerful stuff...

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