the thirtieth question

this was written a few years ago for another’s blog. i’m republishing it here because the link to the original post is no longer good.

What lessons have you learned through the years?

Don’t play football with a bunch of boys if you’re the only girl, a pint-sized one at that. Especially when school starts in like two weeks. Especially when you’re the go-to gal on the swim team for a particular leg of a relay. You might break your collarbone. Or something. And chances are really good that you’ll be out for the whole season.

Run. Every day. There will come a day where you won’t be able to do this. Or want to. Relish the days you can. That high that comes afterward? That windedness? The physical exhaustion paired with that glorious tingling sensation coursing through your body? Those glutes? Those are beautiful things. You’ll miss them.

Speaking of muscles… When I was fourteen, I weighed seventy pounds. I had three percent body fat. Yes, three. That I was twenty pounds lighter than the norm worried my doctor and he put me on an Ensure regimen. And I ate, desperately. Burgers and pizza and pasta. Daily. To counter the three to five thousand meters I swam daily, depending on the time of year. I despised the flatness and straightness of my figure. I ogled the litheness and length, the strength of the boys on ours and the opposing teams. I studied the curvaceous and muscular figures of the girls I swam with and against. I ate. Poorly. And now, at over forty with some thirty percent body fat, I wish like hell I could say I was twenty pounds underweight. That my body was a little flatter and a lot straighter. That I could’ve, should’ve taken better care of myself.

Regret sucks. Do your damnedest to avoid it. 

If he matters to you—really, really matters—give the boy what he wants. Even if what he wants makes you unhappy. That unhappiness? Maybe it’ll only last a moment or two. Maybe if you don’t give him what he wants, you’ll be unhappy for a whole lot longer.  On the flip side of that… if he’s not giving you want you want, maybe he doesn’t really matter, in which case kicking him to the curb’s a really good idea.

There’s this thing called instinct. And it’s good. It generally leads you in the right direction. But don’t confuse it with temper. That’s a bad thing. It will almost always inspire you to go the wrong way. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell them apart.

Not every woman is destined for marriage and family. These are beautiful aspirations. Worthy. Lovely. But don’t become so obsessed with finding them that you forget to appreciate what you have. A friend told me once that she thought my disappointment with how my life has played out overshadows my witty personality and can make me appear cranky. I don’t mind the cranky. I do mind the disappointment. I mind that it casts a shadow on what makes me good. I don’t know how to shrug off that cloak. I spent my life trying to be normal when I wasn’t meant to be so. 

There are stories inside you. Don’t be afraid to tell them.

And most importantly, never, NEVER get a credit card.

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