When I was a child, sitting in any given classroom, at any given time, I always had the horrible feeling that the day would never end. The teacher’s voice would gain the quality of a record player that had had its speed turned to the slowest setting. She would use words that sounded as if she lacked the ability to enunciate, and my brain would give up on caring about the lesson that she was attempting to teach. I was a prisoner. I was handcuffed to a chair with a desk, and could not move freely without being admonished, and my best friend sitting next to me, was in the exact same boat. Every day of our educational lives was so boring, and we could not wait to get out and climb trees, tell stories (whether true or completely fabricated for effect), or skip rocks and dream of growing up. Of course, at this point in life, I was sure that I would never grow up, never see an R-rated movie, never eat anything more exotic than goat sausage, and never get married. My aspirations consisted of nothing more than escaping my educational bonds and roaming free as a mountain man. (Being female was entirely incidental to me as an 11 year-old.) I am not kidding when I say that it is a very real miracle that I graduated from high school at all, let alone college. I know…I am still baffled. However, as life follows a path that I could never have laid for myself, I see 5 realities that were hidden to me, in my child form. These are for you, my past self.
The day does end. As you sit in class, trying to envision something more exciting than the anatomy of a fruit fly, consider the world around you. Your teacher was a child once. Do you think she is old now? Do you think she ever felt like school would never end, and that she would never get to leave? If you pay attention, you can see the little lines around her eyes; the wrinkles around her mouth when she smiles, and the way she puts her hand to her back when she gets up from sitting in her chair for an extended period of time, grading papers. She was a child once…not so long ago, and for her, that agonizing day of school ended, so that she could move forward and age accordingly. If you ask her, she will say that time moves faster and that you need to
No one is in the same boat (they may not even be in the same water). You are not alone when you daydream of playing outside, and having fun with your friends, but your wants, needs and experiences are not the same as the person next to you. Consider your best friend. You don’t know how her home life completely eclipses any concerns that she has about school, because to her, school is not important. Her parents’ fighting every night is what consumes her thoughts. Neither you nor she realizes that her parents’ marriage will not survive another two years, and that she, herself, will be killed in a car accident at the age of 33. Each individual life comes with its own individual trials and successes. Look at the faces around you. Each child has an unwritten story, and though you are sharing part of that story, yours will be different from theirs in the end. Everyone makes their own choices. Try to make the best choices possible for yourself and your future family.
Life gets exciting fast. No matter how much you want to lay your head on your desk and run the risk of awakening with your face floating in a pool of drool, you must understand that life is full of surprises, and there are so many exciting things that are going to happen to you. You are going to get married, and have kids…KIDS! You are going to make people just like you, and they are smart, fun and energetic humans that will wear you out!
You are not mountain man material. You think that you want to be alone and able to do what you want, whenever you want, but you don’t. You just don’t know it yet. Right now you know that you like playing the drums, eating Twinkies, and not showering, but there will come a time when playing the drums gives you arthritis, Twinkies make your vision blurry and your thighs enormous, and showering saves your marriage. You’re a diamond buried in a rough piece of coal, but God has a plan for you that includes the love of a family; the opportunities to teach other women, and many blessings in the form of sweet, human beings. You want to be a blessing, not a hopeless, beardless, mountain man.
Freedom comes at a price. Your parents won’t let you wear shorts to school, your teacher won’t let you turn to your best friend and let her know that you think her new bangs are fabulous, and the lunch lady won’t let you have four smothered steak patties instead of green beans and pears. It doesn’t seem fair, but there will come a time, when you will hold all of the “permission cards”, and you will have the power to say “no” to your daughter when she wants to wear shorty shorts and feel the rush of an authoritative response when your son asks for a chainsaw so he can “build stuff”. God gives us parents, teachers and lunch ladies, so that we can be safely guided through making decisions that benefit us. Hang tough…you will get your chance to be “free”.
You are precious in God’s sight. Time is not stagnant, and you will be allowed to grow and blossom into a fruitful human, so embrace time as it is now, and be patient.
If you could tell YOUR past self 5 things, what would you say?
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