A few days ago, when I was going about my normal day-to-day, I had a sudden realization. May is a big month for me: it’s the anniversary of when I moved up here. It’s the anniversary of when I graduated from college. But this May particularly, May 2013, is a bigger deal than usual because it is the TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MY GRADUATION FROM HIGH SCHOOL.
I just looked through a photo album my mother gave me not long ago. June 1 is the specific day I went up with all my friends and co-graduates, got my diploma and got finished doing all that. All that stuff, all that work, all that drama, all that changing and screwing up and getting worse and getting better — all that is the quintessential high school experience.
The Katie of 10 years ago is a strange animal. College hit me like a running-tackle-hug, and I tried everything. Everything I could think of. Everything I could get my hands on. Katie of 10 year ago went from being in a sensory deprivation chamber to a fucking technicolor Oz in smell-o-vision. She threw herself into everything, and it has been a wild ride.
It’s weird now, looking back, because I was certain I had gone from a hungry caterpillar in a cocoon to a butterfly. But now…I think I was just an eager grub, working its way to a voracious worm and fighting the urge to get into that pupa stage. I still feel like life is only just beginning, as if my wings are still a sticky, webby mess.
With that in mind, I’ve made a list of 10 things I wish I could tell that droopy-eyed Katie of yesteryear.
1. Get out of your room. Those people on the other side of your computer are great, but there is a world of everything that you’re missing out on. Sit with your parents and have dinner. You’ll miss it when you only get to do it a few times out of the year.
2. You don’t want a car. Not really. It’s a huge, expensive pain. Enjoy those walks to the grocery store. Relish the feel of the sidewalk under your feet, the rain on your face. Smile because you have places you can get to right around the corner that have good food and interesting sights.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Go see someone. You have a problem, and it isn’t just you. Just like you have bad guts and shitty teeth, your brain chemicals aren’t awesome. It gets better.
4. Boyfriends are overrated. I know you’re whining about how much you want to be loved and touched by another human being and that’s great, yeah…but after but so much loving, you’ll want him to go away so you can breathe. You will feel better alone than you ever will with someone.
5. Stop taking shit from people. God, how could you just let them say that crap to you every day? Tell them to shut up and leave you alone! You don’t owe anyone anything. Ever. You still don’t.
6. Stay passionate about writing. Write all the time, if you can. There will come a time when it won’t seem as fun, but drive away that feeling with more writing. Do it now, while you have blessed free time.
7. Learn to cook. And clean. And talk to people. And handle your money. These are all things that will serve you well and will be a lot more beneficial if you start early.
8. Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last. Just kicking down the cobble stones… looking for fun and feelin’ groovy (This may seem like a departure into Simon-and-Garfunkle Land but actually it would be very relevant to 18-year-old me –because everybody went through that stage where song lyrics were the way to describe one’s life at a given time)
9. Take care of yourself throughout college. Take a look at the resources you have in these precious few years where you have benefits of health care, gyms, libraries, career centers…there is none of that in the real world unless you pay for it!
10. You’re doing good. You’re doing really, really good. You are great. You are awesome. It’s not that bad. It can be so much worse. But even in the depths of the bad badness, you will rise above it. That’s how strong you are.
Edit: Things I thought of after the fact that didn’t make the list include 11. Putting vanilla in sodas stops being a fad around 2006, so enjoy it while it lasts, 12. Sushi will never be as cheap and affordable as it is in college, so you should eat as much of it as possible, 13. It will never be acceptable for you to wander around in public wearing pajama pants after you graduate, so you might as well get as much wear in them as possible, 14. Seek out at least a few real adult role models who aren’t roleplayers — this will save you much grief in the future, 15. Enjoy Southern hospitality as long as you can because you will miss it (and booze in grocery stores) when you get older.