“Relax. Breathe. God is in control.” Fortunately I still use those words a lot, so you’ll be fine. And even though those words annoy you most when you need to hear them, it will keep you from losing your mind when you start to panic at the thought of whether life does get better or worse as you get older. Read slowly. Or fast. You have never let the world tell you what to do anyway.
Firstly, I think its important that you find out sooner rather than later that you do not have to learn every single lesson for yourself. And especially not more than once. It isn’t because of some karmic law that you have to struggle to appreciate the good that is most welcome in your life. So in random example, heart-breaks are not a “must-have” experience to fully appreciate love. You’ve always been and always will be a loving being. (Of course like everyone else, you sometimes have funny ways of showing it!). Pain is not a “normal” part of life. Luckily you learn that lesson around the same time you learnt that it actually is true that what does not kill you makes you stronger.
Like the one crush you pined away for is a subtle reminder that you Do actually get over it (and any other heartbreak seems less doom & gloom). And that in fact, there is no real point in afflicting immeasurable hurt on yourself by spending hours in end formulating all the things that could be wrong with you that one guy does not like, what you could change and eventually - the more you think about what’s wrong with you, it becomes a belief. Years later, it makes sense when you realise how much of yourself you’ve changed in a quest for love.
Remember how mom would reprimand you for staring at the phone and refusing to let anyone else near the phone because you needed to “keep the line free in case X calls”? Simple advice that seemed cruel to you last week will change the way you treat yourself in a few years’ time. “Get up from that couch and go out and have some kind of fun! Watch a movie by yourself, get yourself some ice cream and get your hair done! Those things are no less exciting because you are doing it on your own. Enjoy spending time with yourself and don’t waste it waiting.” In her infinite wisdom, this “Mom” woman is and always will be the voice of reason.
Then there are the good or bad intentions that people around you will feel obliged to impose on you about your future are only as true as you will let them become. You are a working professional care of yourself now. Who would have thought? You are blessed enough to still enjoy eating whatever you want when your body asks for it without turning into a whale. Simply put, those “pseudo-prophecies” should not go further than your ears. Accept only the truths you want to believe of yourself and your future. (Insert “sigh of relief” here). I still owe you for always being sporty because I still eat like a rugby player but keeping healthy with plenty of exercise. Oh, and please be kind to the black skinny jeans from Varsity? Thanks to the advice on paying close attention to what your body wants - they still fit! Happy dance.
If it is at all possible, hold off on the negative self-talk. There’s no “kinder” way to say it. Quite a bit of your drama is a fabric of the things you think and start to believe. The word deserve is used far too loosely in life. You don’t deserve this because of what you did there. You do, however deserve that which you believe you do (if that makes sense?). The world around you is and always will confirm that which you believe of yourself. That bad day you had? Well, you called it before it even happened. The Universe just agreed. The same goes with all the big stuff. We’ll go as far as you believe us to. For the record, you would do cartwheels if you knew how well you are doing in the future. So believe it. Hold onto that picture. As much as growing up does not get any easier, it definitely makes more sense when you spend even more of your time being present and looking ahead than you do dwelling on the why’s and the wherefores.
Try to remember that nothing is ever really a waste of time. Each experience you are having has made me who I am now – whatever its outcome. The gains and the losses, the missed opportunities, the ones that got away – or the ones you had to let go. The same goes with that missed flight and the denied Visa to study overseas. It always works out. It is never the end of the story. So don’t waste time wishing it away or praying it was different. The only perspective that should really matter to you at these and every other fork in the roads – is yours. What you chose to make of it is all the buzz here in the future.
So I’m writing this post from a balcony at 6am. Yes. Hanging out with myself – by myself and loving it! You will become your very own happy space. At 25 you’ll think you’ve got it all figured out and the happy space is in a relationship or getting that job. Believe it or not, you actually believe that happiness is kicking butt and taking names. You’ll be glad to know that it evolves into the ultimate comfort to look after YOU. To take time out for YOU. But more so, to be attentive to what Gugu wants – and not what she thinks the Universe or society thinks she should want/need/should be going though now.
Now for the serious stuff. I know you won’t get to read this in time, but embrace the skin you are in. Love family and try not to waste time chasing friends and neglecting them. Stay home on a Saturday when Mom starts acting out signs that she misses spending time with you. Pick your battles with her. At 17 you’re quite a selfish daughter, trying to be awesome at everything else. It gets worse in varsity where you get a taste of this so-called independent life you have been dreaming off. Return her calls, or at least use more than a rushed phone call to communicate with her. Pay more attention to the stories she tells of where you come from. Spend more time traveling with her. For some strange reason, at 27 I would give anything for another long drive with her! Say yes when she asks you to clean her room. You later realise that you are the only person she lets near her personal stuff. Keep hearing her out when she just wants to share her week with you. In fact, call her even more often. You’ll wish you had.
As much as it seems pretty grand here in the future, I hate to break it to you that as much of a super-power as she is, Mom is not here. Like a lightning bold, without warning she is no longer a part of this world. It sucks without Mom. And it’s all the things I just mentioned that keep you going. You’ve made it through a year and a half without her now. The things you thought annoyed you about her as the cheeky teenager and young woman are what you later hold onto as the quirky things you embrace most about who you are. It’s only now in 2011 that you will begin to find comfort in that; the lessons on self-love, the importance of a relationship with God and your family, how to make a really mean Mac n’ Cheese or decent cup of tea are like a bear-hug from her to you.
This could all get very overwhelming - but just breathe. God is still in control. Live. That’s all you need to do. As a last request from me – well, for now at least. Give Mom a hug; tell her how much you appreciate her. Take more pictures. Smile more often. And pretty please – be kinder to yourself. Go easy. It all works out perfectly.