Advice to a Teenaged Me

The radio is normally my companion in the car. On the way home from work, I usually catch up on the day’s news with 45 minutes of CNN and Wolfe Blitzer in the Situation Room.

If I’m just driving from errand to errand on the weekends, I’ll switch to the iPod and jam to Katy Perry, Pink or Adele. I need a regular dose of girl power anthems.

This morning, like most mornings, I tuned into my favorite local radio station to catch the end of the morning show. It’s usual mindless babble quite frequently evokes a chuckle on the way to work and helps clear the fog that my first cup of coffee didn’t quite get.

Today, the DJ asked listeners to call in and tell the world…okay, maybe just the city and surrounding areas…what advice they would give if they could go back in time to their high school years and have a heart-to-heart with their teenaged selves.

I had just pulled into my parking spot when the first callers starting commenting, so unfortunately I missed most of the sage words of the now-wizened. I couldn’t get the question out of my head, though, and as I walked toward the building, I pondered what I would actually tell the quiet, freckle-faced, curly haired red-headed me.

Buy the Shoes!

I buy shoes of all kinds, even cute little shoe-themed note pads!

Within two steps, I knew without a doubt what I would tell her.

“BUY THE SHOES!”

Does that sound superficial? Yes, I suppose it does, but the fact remains that’s the best thing I could say to my young self–the girl trying to find herself, the one trying to discover who she is and where she fits in.

When I look back over the decades since I graduated from high school, I know exactly when I found my confidence. Odd as it may seem, it was in a hospital room shortly following my IBD diagnosis. This was well before the internet, satellite TV and an endless selection of iPad apps. I had nothing to do to occupy my time until my mom showed up with a stack of magazines.

On the top, in all its glossy glory, was the latest issue of Glamour. I flipped through the pages, turned back to the beginning and read it cover-to-cover again. I’m pretty sure I mailed in the subscription coupon on my way home after being discharged.

The pictures and articles inside made me happy at a time when I desperately needed something to evoke a smile. A life-changing diagnosis tends to make little things like that seem huge.

When I felt up to it, I went in search of some new shoes…a new sweater…a new skirt…and I was happy. Pretty soon I was walking taller in my new shoes, and happy was turning into confident. I spoke up more. I took more chances, and I started to define myself as a strong woman with a vision.

So, yes, if I could travel back in time to my high school years, I would stop that girl in the hall, take her by the shoulders, and tell her, “Buy the shoes.” It’s a version of what I’ve told my son as I’ve tried to counsel him through hard decisions, and I’ll tell my daughter the same thing when life inevitably gets in her way too.

“If it makes you happy,” I’d say, “buy the shoes…change your path…take a risk. Life is too short and will have too many rough patches to be stuck doing the things that meet someone else’s goals. Do the things that make you happy. Do the things that make you glow and smile and sparkle like the brilliant jewel you are. Do the things that make you YOU!”

Buy the shoes!

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2**Today’s post is the first in a series of assignments for WordPress Daily Post’s Blogging University June course, Writing 101:Building a Blogging Habit.

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