I've been friends with L and M since we were all eleven years old and in the sixth grade. If I'd known we'd still be friends today, I think I would have taken more photos of us over the years so we could look back and laugh at our leg warmer-ed, sweater-vested, prairie skirted, John Hughes movie watching selves.
Just yesterday, separately, they both passed along bits of information that gave me a great reason (as if I needed one) to think about the girl I was and the woman I am today.
From M came an e-mail with the wisdom of Maya Angelou:
"I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow."It was funny to me, because just hours before, L and I had been discussing our reactions to an essay she'd read in Nora Ephron's latest book, I Feel Bad About My Neck. She asked what I would blog about the life lessons I've learned?
"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."
"I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life."
"I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as "making a life."
"I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance."
"I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back."
"I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision."
"I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one."
"I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back."
"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn."
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
You see, I try not to have regrets in life, but there are certainly issues I've reconsidered, wondering who and what I would be now if I'd been more aware, especially in my teens and twenties.
(However, remembering myself in my teens and twenties, there is no way I'd have been any more aware because I bore the daunting responsibility of never being wrong and also always being right. I'm thinking I have about ten years before it comes full circle and Ellie inflicts this on me.)
I may not be as wise as Maya Angelou or as witty as Nora Ephron, but I have learned a thing or two along the way.
No matter what it looks like on the outside, no one has the perfect family.
"Perfect" is overwhelmingly subjective anyway.
People who choose not to be your friend because you don't wear the latest fashions are probably not the kind of friends you want to have. This holds true whether you are twelve or forty-two.
Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness.
Your body never forgets, and will sometimes pick inopportune times to remind you that you should have lifted with your legs and not your back that time you moved into your first apartment.
If you break up with someone, and break up with them again and again, chances are, it's not a relationship that's going to last.
There is such a thing as love at first sight.
When picking a college major, don't be motivated by what you think will impress graduate schools or future employers. If every course you take and book you read in a subject puts you to sleep, think about choosing something else. If you're not sure, ask.
The boys who might have seemed too dorky to date in high school might still have been good friends to have, even if not boyfriend material. It probably would have been time better spent making friends than dealing with the complexities of relationships at such a young age. Besides, I've learned that a lot of these geeky boys end up turning into fine and interesting men.
If given the opportunity to study abroad or travel, muster up the courage to go, regardless of how homesick you might become or how frightened you are to speak another language or live in another culture. It will probably change your life.
Children do not need to be part of every decision-making process.
Let people you love know that you do as often as you can. If it doesn't feel right to say it, find a way to show it in a way that does, and say it regardless because people need to hear it.
Don't put cashmere in the dryer.
You can't control everything, no matter how vigilant or determined. Accidents happen. Still, prevention beats most of the alternatives.
Who you are is not the equivalent of what you have accomplished.
Self-respect is more valuable than all the external validation in the world.
What do you know now?