What I wish I had known at 17; what I am learning at [almost] 20

17 is only three years past, and it feels like forever.

17 is only three years past, and I have so many things I would love to tell myself.

Like,

You don’t always have to be right, and you don’t always have to fight to prove you’re right.  You don’t always have to have the last word.  Sometimes it’s okay to not voice your opinion, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid or important.

Be kinder to your mother; she works hard to get you what you want, and she’s trying to help you the best she knows how.  Do more fun stuff with your dad; he works hard to provide for you, and he protects you the best he is able.  They’d both give up their lives for you without hesitation.  You can give them a few hours of your time.  Your friends will wait.

You don’t have to be Sunshine all of the time in order for people to love you.  The people who truly care will share in your joy when you’re shining, but they’ll hold you when you can’t crack a smile.  They’ll cuddle you when you feel like you can’t move, and they’ll love you when you are unlovable.

Speaking of other people; don’t live for them.  Live for you, but, most importantly, live for Jesus.  Society, and the people around you – they don’t matter; their opinions don’t matter, not in the long run.  Don’t let them steal your happiness.

Don’t let them steal anything that comes naturally to you, love, because they’ll try.  Maybe they won’t know it, or maybe it’ll be intentional, but they’ll try to dull the sparkle in your eyes that catches in the light when you begin talking about something you love.  They’ll try to box up your laugh and hem in your actions, telling you to make yourself as small as possible.

Don’t waste time on people who suck your soul, who drain you.  Don’t spend time trying to solve someone’s problem, especially not if they simply create another one as soon as you’re done cleaning up their mess.  Don’t invest your time in those who want to change you, alter you.

Dance.  Sing.  Don’t be so self conscious about what the people around you will think, because, chances are, they won’t notice.  They won’t look twice, and you will feel free.

Wear the tennis shoes with the sundress.  Wear old men sweaters and polka dot tights.  Wear things that make you feel good about yourself, things that you like, even if they might not “go together,” and stop crossing your arms over your chest when you begin to feel self conscious.  Walk with your shoulders back and head high, eyes straight ahead and a smile gracing your face.

Stop biting your nails.  Start painting them, because you’ll smile any time you look down at the constantly shifting paradigm of colors adorning your fingertips.

Make time for what you love, because there’ll come a time when you can’t stay up until one to finish that novel or binge watch three seasons of a TV show; you’ll get to a point where you have to choose sleep over anything else, because days begin early and end late when you’re a full time student and part time employee.  They’ll end even later when you’re a full time friend.

Go outside, and breathe in the fresh air.  Sit in the sunshine as often as you can, because it sucks the stress right out of you when the light is bright and the wind is gentle.

Journal religiously, but don’t miss out on life as it happens because your nose is stuck on a page, alongside your pen.

Be open for adventures, to change, to new ideas and opinions, but stand firm on what you believe once you find it.  Stay true to what you know to be true, and don’t judge others when their truth differs from yours.

Love.  Love others, love yourself.  Love life, and live it fully, to the best of your ability.  Don’t beat yourself up for mistakes, but strive to correct them.  Be gentle and be kind; have courage.  Chase your dreams, even when you’re told they’re ridiculous or improbable.  Travel.  See the world; experience all that you can.

Life is short.

Live with a wide open heart full of love, and scatter that Sunshine, baby girl.  There’s nothing wrong with you.

You are not crazy.

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One thought on “What I wish I had known at 17; what I am learning at [almost] 20

  1. I love you so much, Jami, and I am so proud of the woman you have become. You don’t need me as much as you did when you were a little girl, but know this: I will always be here for you, for as long as I live and breath, whether you need a shoulder to lean on, or someone to laugh with, or someone to cry over each regeneration episode of Doctor Who with. You are my favorite girl, the best part of me there ever will be. ❤ ❤ ❤

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