Finding a sense of self: 30 things I’d tell the girlhood me

Initially, turning 30 jarred me. As a kid, there were so many things I wanted to accomplish by this major milestone. So many things I wanted to see and do. It was nearly like a mythical world or another realm of life that I tangibly couldn’t plan, but I just had so many expectations that I lived by, expectations that — I think — helped me get through some of the tough times as a kid. Expectations that, though I had no real concept of womanhood, fed me the path of which I was supposed to at least partially travel.

I definitely thought that I’d be in a different place than where I am now, but my life now also isn’t completely out of the ordinary. The more I think about those childhood dreams and how I always kept dreaming has made me realize that I never lost site of my personal goals. Yeah, society’s standards were thrown out the window a long time ago when I attempted to go into acting full-time. But my personal goals — each and every single one — is still intact. They may have been rearranged or prepared a little differently than I imagined, but thankfully my 30-year-old self doesn’t think too far off from where I was at 12.

Always an observer, I couldn’t help but reflect on my years of growth and change. Of course, there are some things that I would have altered along the way, but I may not have flourished into the woman I am. However, I would definitely send notes to myself that my future will not adhere to a cookie cutter image, but it’ll fit perfectly with the road I paved:

1) MASH/The fortune teller game: This game is hardly enough to base your life. The choices of a mansion, apartment, shack, or house don’t even include neighborhoods, number of bedrooms, the quality of plumbing, or square footage. Enjoy the game. Especially enjoy the mythical ways of determining your income.

2) Enjoy the small things: Don’t stop appreciating all of those activities you enjoy: Acting, writing, collecting dolls, playing video games, being creative with Do-It-Yourself’s. They make you YOU. They garner great conversation when interacting with other millennials later in life, and they provide cheap options for entertaining guests or creating nifty decor.

3) Don’t do the jersey dress: Or any other time-specific outfit of the period. You will look back and laugh at yourself. The jersey dress, Air Force 1s, knock-off luxury brands, pants with embroidered butts. But rock the velour sweatsuit. It’ll come back in style. And don’t sweat not getting that cute pair of high-heeled Skechers. One day, you will become a heel queen. And don’t worry about getting made fun of for always wearing sweatpants. When you’re 30, it’ll be your clothing option of choice.

4) Buy the name-brand cereal when you become an adult: The after-taste on the off-brand Froot Loops will always be sour, and your parents won’t care. It saved them $2.

5) Enjoy cable now because it’ll be gone: The Disney Channel, MTV, MTV Jams, Nickelodeon, VH-1; enjoy the good times. When you become an adult, those “good times” will be too expensive and a thing of the past — unless you have someone’s cable login. (See #25)

6) Sing every song on the radio: Sing proudly! Music will suck in 20 years, and you won’t be able to sing to anything. Literally, it’ll all become a hybrid of techno-hip-hop.

Especially, enjoy your favorite: Mariah Carey. One day, she will not be how you remembered her.

7) Career: You will have a number of interests that you will want to pursue. Do them all. It’s better to have tried rather than wonder back “what if.” You’re smart and talented. Experience all that you’re curious about. But also hold your dreams with conviction. Do not let anyone deter you or tell you otherwise.

8) Finances: One day, you will have to pay bills. More than you think. That $100 in your piggy bank that you’re saving for more Goosebumps books won’t even make a dent.

Also, Sallie Mae is the devil. Don’t believe any of her lies.

9) Take those extra classes: Don’t hesitate to learn something new. You have an interest in voice lessons? Take them. Want to do more acting classes? Take them. Want to learn French fluently before you’re forced to in college? Take classes.

10) Family: No matter how unorthodox your family is, they’re amazing. And you will want to spend as much time as possible with them when you get older. Cherish the little moments together, the subtle instances of watching The History Channel with your step dad or running the scoreboard with your dad at your brother’s summer baseball games. You can never get that back.

11) Having kids: People will try to tell you when you should have kids during your adulthood, especially at 30. But unless they will find a way to pay for and birth those children, their input is not a priority.

Besides, it’s 2018. Freezing eggs and in vitro is now an option where comedians don’t joke about it anymore. You will also want to make sure that you’re financially stable to support children — or the snapback post-labor. 

12) Don’t ignore the obvious: You know your gifts; don’t downplay them. You see people for who they are; don’t up-play them.

13) Maintain role models: Always have someone as an example for the road(s) you want to take. It can help with the process.

 14) Don’t compare yourself to others: Each person’s journey is different. And your story is unique to you. It’s YOUR book, not theirs.

15) Enjoy each phase: Being new at school, the awkward years, exploring a new interest, class projects, meeting new friends, summer breaks. The only phases in adulthood are work and wishing it was the weekend, the weekend, anxiety over the weekend ending.

16) Whenever you hear “Kardashian,” run away.

17) Listen to your body: This will become more pertinent as you get older. But your body is telling you what you already know. And you know your body better than anybody else. Take care of yourself. Your health is more important than their mental comfort.

Also, you and dairy will have a breakup. It’ll be rough and messy.

And I know you don’t like a lot of walking and have even sat down while footing it to places with your parents, but one day you will climb an entire mountain. Yeah, be proud about that. (Flashback to 6-year-old self sitting on the sidewalk after walking to the grocery store with step-dad and brother. … Haha … joke’s on them.)

18) New insurance is like waking up on Christmas morning: You may not enjoy going on doctor’s appointments now or seeing the eye doctor, but man! Those become like trips to the candy store when that new insurance kicks in.

19) Take pictures of everything: The good and bad moments. Because one day, the bad won’t seem so bad anymore and just a moment in the past.

20) Don’t throw anything away: Now, people may call you a PACK RAT. But, it’ll work in your favor later. All those Beanie Babies and Barbies and board games and Disney stuff? It may be worth something one day. And if not, at least you’ll have some cool toys when you’re 85.

21) Furniture shopping will become amazing: Furniture shopping may be boring and tiring now. Remember those long hours in Value City Furniture? But one day, you’re going to enjoy trying out recliner couches.

22) You’re never going to be a happy cook, and it’s OK: And that’s why Seamless and Postmates will be invented.

23) Bubble baths are always good.

24) You have anxiety disorder: So, don’t get worked up over something being wrong with you. It’s not your fault. And some people may not understand. But try to calm down and realize that whatever you’re stressed about isn’t that serious. And it never will be.

25) Keep in touch: Decent and consistent people are hard to come by. Those who are, keep them close.

26) Ability to say no: Be comfortable in saying “no.” It’s your world, and don’t obligate yourself to something if you’re not feeling it.

27) Listen to each family story: These are priceless. Every story your mother tells you about growing up or your aunts talking about their childhoods, listen. Learning from the past is the only way to prepare for the future, and you learn about your family’s history. Besides, they could make for good stories for your books one day.

28) Self-confidence: Never for one second think that you’re not worthy or not beautiful. And know that you can accomplish anything. Do not allow others’ lack of confidence to affect your destiny.

29) Explore the unknown: Don’t be afraid of being the lone wolf. Stand out as the rainbow fish in a tank of guppies. Don’t be ashamed of your shining light. Years ahead, you will travel the world, dance on the idea of becoming an entrepreneur, be an outspoken activist, and enjoy wearing faux animal print jackets. Get used to the attention.

30) Self-respect demands respect from others: Respect yourself to the point where you know what you want and will not compromise those standards. Do not allow for ANYONE besides yourself to dictate the woman you’re to become. You will feel more fulfilled for your strength and determination, and they will have no choice but to kneel to your resilience.

Looking back and seeing as to how I viewed adulthood as a kid is so far from the reality. I wished and dreamed so much about my goals and lifelong desires, I didn’t think that they would necessarily be complete by the time that I turned 30. Instead, I just had an image of who I was supposed to be or how I was supposed to look by the time I reached that age. However, I didn’t realize that as a 30-year-old, I wouldn’t stop dreaming, I wouldn’t stop pursuing those goals, and life simply didn’t end just at the turn of my third decade. Of course, hindsight is 20-20. But if I could reach back and tell the younger version of myself that everything would be OK, maybe she would’ve been a little less stressed, a little less worried about those summer book reports, a little less self-conscious about not staying on top of her sneaker game, and a little more inclined to enjoy each moment that life provided.

I just hope that if she knew that this would be the image of her 30 that she still would’ve looked forward to it.

One Reply to “Finding a sense of self: 30 things I’d tell the girlhood me”

  1. I took my time and read this again.
    I love it, and although you say more or less if had known…
    Not necessarily, the unknown always peaked your interest and challenged you. It was what drove you. You liked having goals with an idea that you would reach each one at the point and time you set. No one could tell you to stop and “smell the roses” along the way. Your path is the path you are supposed to take, and the one you are choosing as you go had already made you such the incredible young woman you are. As the mother of that future 30 year old, I am extremely proud of where you are and the journey and path you have chosen .
    Love yenz


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