A Letter to 16-Year Old Me


Dear 16-Year Old Me,

In the coming years your entire life is going to change in ways that you can’t even begin to understand right now.  Here are some of the things you’re going to learn that I wish you could understand at this very moment.

  1. Stop worrying so much about what other people think of you, especially at school.  In just a few short years you will never see or hear from most of these people ever again, at least not in any meaningful way.  Thus their opinions are worthless anyway.  Be YOU; if they don’t like it, so what?  Being untrue to yourself to please or impress others rarely works out anyway, as you’ve already learned.  And living with the guilt of betraying yourself is worse than being rejected by people who in the end will mean so little in your life.
  2. Stop trying to ignore all the questions & doubts in your head.  In a few years you will realize that not having all the answers is part of what makes life interesting.the breakfast club
  3. On a similar token, stop listening to all the people who say they have all the answers in life.  They are either lying or deluded.  Or most likely both.  And they are definitely trying to sell you something or control you in some way.
  4. Stop assuming you can’t be friends with people who think differently than you.  Some of your best friends in life will end up being people who are quite different than you.
  5. Stop being afraid to take chances & try new things.  I know you don’t believe it now but the greatest regrets you will have in life are the things you DIDN’T do.
  6. Stop assuming that everything in life is either black or white.  In reality it’s all shades of grey.  There are no moral absolutes in life, & guess what: that’s actually not that scary.  It doesn’t mean you can’t have any morals or sense of decency.  People only try to say everything is black & white because they can’t handle the complications of life & they’re trying to create some order out of the confusion.  But in the end doing so just makes life more complicated.moral relativity
  7. Stop trying to suppress your feelings all the time.  Stop feeling guilty for being a human being & having so-called “negative” emotions such as anger, sadness, & lust.  They’re all just part of being alive.  The trick is learning to express such emotions in healthy ways.  And that’s really not half as hard as people make it out to be.
  8. On a similar note, nothing in life is really as hard as everyone says it is.  I’m not saying life is easy; it’s definitely not.  But with the right attitude you can handle anything that comes your way.  Don’t let the negative experiences of others color your own experiences.
  9. Stop obsessing quite so much about grades.  It’s not that they aren’t important, but grades aren’t the only measure of intelligence.  In fact they’re probably a pretty poor measure of intelligence in the long run.  It’s fine to have a goal of getting straight A’s, but focus more on truly understanding the material & remembering it for longer than it takes to pass your latest exam.straight-A
  10. Life isn’t a competition.  But karma is real.  Many of the people who are having their “hey-day” right now will pay for it later.  Someday you will reap the rewards of your good decisions just as some others will reap the rewards of their not so great decisions.  Don’t let this make you spiteful; stay gracious.  Just know that your life isn’t (or shouldn’t be) defined by high school.  Things WILL get better.  You will grow up & move away & experience a whole other world than the one you know right now.  And it will be wonderful & it will be worth all of the hard times you’re experiencing right now.  I know it’s difficult to imagine, but all the things that make you weird, boring, & uncool right now will someday in the not so distant future make you exciting, fun, & interesting.  Trust me.

Love,

25-Year Old Me

Life Isn’t Fair So Your Choices Better Be Good


Today’s blog post might rub some people the wrong way but I hope you’ll understand as you read it that this comes from a place of compassion & concern for my fellow man.  (Yes, I consider myself a feminist but I truly don’t see anything wrong with using masculine pronouns when referring to all of humanity because frankly it just sounds better.)  Something I’ve been thinking about a lot this year is the impact of choices on our lives.  A lot has changed in my life in the past two years.  For example, I’ve graduated from college, become a nurse, gotten married, and moved to a new state, and in just the past nine months I’ve bought a house, a puppy, and a very nice used car and started serving as a preceptor and a charge nurse at work.  These are, in my mind, all good changes but change is inevitably difficult at times and, at least for me, leads to a lot of introspection and general analysis of life.  In the past year such introspection and analysis have continually landed me on the same theme: the importance of making good choices in life and the consequences that arise when we fail to make good choices.

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Let me first say that I am fully aware that what I consider to be good choices and what someone else considers to be good choices may be completely different.  And with very few exceptions I am totally okay with that.  But if there is one thing I can safely say I know to be true in life, it is that we are each responsible for our own lives and the choices we make, and said choices are the greatest determinant of our own happiness and success.  I know that I have accomplished a lot for someone my age and I am very much aware of the fact that I have a lot of people to thank for helping me along the way to where I am now.  But I also realize that all the help in the world would have been useless if I hadn’t also made my own good choices (getting good grades in high school which allowed me to apply for and obtain a scholarship to college, seeking out internships and jobs in college that helped me obtain a good job after graduation, etc, etc, you get the point).  Please understand that I am not trying to brag or say that I am more successful or better than anyone else.  I am well aware that my own idea of success and happiness does not apply to everyone and vice versa.  I am just saying that when I think about the miserable situations I see so many people in, including many my own age, I can’t help but notice that all (or at least most) of these people have made a series of bad choices throughout their lives.  Let me further explain so I hopefully don’t sound like one of those god-awful judgmental pricks that annoy me so much.

I’m talking about the people who are working dead-end jobs with no hope of advancement who can barely pay their bills (or can’t pay them), who are in miserable relationships with people who treat them like trash, etc, etc; I think you catch my drift.  These people are usually the ones who dropped out of high school (and not because they had to take care of a dying relative or something like that), got pregnant in high school or maybe shortly thereafter and often with someone they did not exactly have a solid relationship with, or perhaps graduated from high school but with such poor grades that college or even technical school was never an option.  These folks probably did not think about the future beyond tomorrow and never exactly planned out a career or any sort of goals for their lives.  The homeless are another good example.  I have always had a special place in my heart for the homeless for some reason but when I look at most of the homeless people I’ve met or known about (I did a clinical rotation with the homeless in nursing school and actually got the privilege of talking to a lot of homeless folks) I’ve noticed again the same pattern: bad choices.  For some it was drugs, for some it was gambling, for some it was having too many children whom they couldn’t afford to support, and the list goes on and on.  Even many of my patients at work whose lives are miserable due to disease are often in the positions they’re in largely because of poor choices they’ve made: failing to control diseases that could be controlled or even eradicated through proper diet & exercise, etc, etc.  It’s hard to watch because you know that these people could have had better outcomes if they’d made better choices.  It’s a very complicated subject, but it’s the truth nonetheless.

Let me be clear here: BY NO MEANS do I think we should not be compassionate or helpful to those who have made poor choices.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  My point is that the greatest lesson I hope to teach my future children is that they better have their act together from day one because life is not fair.  For example, lots of people have unprotected sex in high school.  But not everyone ends up with some disgusting STI or gets pregnant.  But some do.  AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE YOU WILL BE.  Lots of people drive drunk and never hurt anyone.  But others do.  AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE YOU WILL BE.  Lots of people smoke cigarettes their whole lives and never get lung cancer or COPD.  But many do.  AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE YOU WILL BE.  I think you can see my point.  If there’s anything I know about life it’s that it isn’t fair.  Some people make one or two bad choices and their whole lives crumble around them.  Others make a lot of bad choices and don’t seem to suffer as much.  But in my limited experience those I’ve seen consistently make good choices have ALWAYS been better off because of it.

So if/when I have kids someday, these are the things I’m going to teach them:

Stay in school.  Get good grades.  Work hard at everything you do.  When you get a job, be the best because otherwise you will just be a drone like everyone else.  Make yourself stand out.  Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars.  Go to college or vocational school and plan a career where you can both support yourself and be happy.  Never have unprotected sex with anyone unless you are 100% ready to be a parent RIGHT NOW.  Be kind to everyone because you never know what battles others are fighting that you know nothing about.  Karma is real and whatever choices you make, good or bad, they WILL catch up with you sooner or later, and you better be prepared for the outcomes of your decisions.  I will teach them all these things because I will love them and want the best for them, just as my parents did for me.

Perhaps I will never become a parent (who knows), but nonetheless I will strive to teach these things to my nieces and nephews, my patients, and anyone else who is willing to listen.  Because I care.  As much as the world sometimes makes me feel cynical and cold, I do love people.  Life is crazy.  People are crazy.  But I love this life that I’ve made for myself (with the help of some great friends and family) and I want others to be able to share in the kind of happiness I’ve found.  I don’t mean that everyone needs to have my exact lifestyle, education, or career.  I just wish for everyone to find that passion for life and learning that I’ve found.  I like to think it’s contagious, and I hope that I can spread it around just through this blog post if nothing else.

I hope this post hasn’t come across as arrogant or rude.  That’s not how I meant it at all.  I just wanted to share the idea that choices really are important in our lives, and especially with a new year just around the corner it’s something I think we all need to take to heart.  I know that many people are great testaments to the fact that sometimes a bad decision can actually end up being a good thing (lots of teen moms would agree with this).  And there is a lot of truth in that too.  And not every person who makes all good decisions is necessarily going to be completely happy.  Again, everyone’s idea of happiness and success is different.  And that’s ok.  We each must find our own barometer for happiness and success, and then make good choices that align with that.  Otherwise we are just drifting along in life with no paddle to steer us toward any goals, hopes, or dreams.  And I can’t think of much sadder than that.

25 Reasons Why I’m Not Cool


Do you ever have those days when you feel like you’re in high school all over again?  Everyone seems hipper, cooler, trendier, prettier, & generally more interesting than you?  I hope you don’t, but I know I still have those days from time to time.  Today is one of them for whatever reason.  This afternoon while I was sitting at the pool studying for my PCCN exam I started thinking about all the many reasons why I’m not cool, all the things that make me a nerd but not in the “cool” way.  Here we go.

1. I can’t dive.  I have tried so hard to learn but I just can’t do it.

2. I can’t use chopsticks.  Seriously, was this a lesson in high school or college that I just inadvertently missed?

3. I don’t like sushi.  I wish I did.  Everyone who eats sushi looks so sophisticated & interesting.  I have tried, but I just don’t like it.

4. I hate skinny jeans.  If they were never in style again it would please me to no end.  It stresses me out when I go to the Gap (or the Gap Outlet to be more precise) & have to struggle to find flare or boot cut jeans.

5. While we’re on the fashion subject, I hate pretty much all the clothes that are in style nowadays (for women).  Most of them are so unflattering on anyone who isn’t a size 2.  And let’s face it.  I’ve lost 15 lbs this year but I will never be a size 2.  And I don’t even want to be.  I do sometimes like the clothes I see other girls wear & yet I think those same styles look ridiculous on me.  It’s probably a good thing my work attire consists solely of scrubs.  Oh, & I don’t wear stilettos because I can’t think of a good reason to voluntarily torture myself.

6. I think Coach bags are a sham.  If I ever spend more than $50 on a purse, someone please take me to the hospital because that will be a sign I’m having a psychotic break.

7. I really don’t know how to use make-up.  I am scared to death to use an eyelash curler & I’ve never successfully learned how to apply eyeliner.

8. I really don’t like going out for drinks.  It’s over-priced & over-rated.  I don’t hate it, but if I want to drink I would always rather do it at home or at a friend’s apt/house.  It just feels more relaxed.  I know that makes me old & boring but it’s the truth.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love hanging out with friends & don’t mind a bit if other people want to drink more than me.  It’s just not my thing most of the time.

9. I hate treadmills.  In fact I really don’t enjoy any kind of cardio other than hiking (in the mountains) & soccer, neither of which I can do whenever I please.  But I do force myself to use the treadmill anyway.

10. I would rather eat a juicy burger than a crisp, healthy salad any day of the week.  I hate going out to eat & ordering just a salad.  It feels like such a waste.

11. For basically as long as I can remember, people have always thought I am older than I am.  I remember being a freshman in college & so many people thought I was a senior.  Nowadays instead of people asking “Are you married?,” they often ask “Do you have kids?”  I always want to tell them I’m not old enough to have kids & then I remember that technically I am.

12. I refuse to use self-tanner or tanning beds.  I have no problem with other people using self-tanner but I just don’t like “faking” my skin color even if it means being ungodly pale in the winter.  Tanning beds of course are carcinogenic & it amazes me that people still use them.

13. I don’t feel very comfortable in large groups & I hate crowds.  Yet I love teaching or speaking in front of an audience if it’s about a subject I enjoy, & I’m not afraid to share my opinion in staff meetings at work.

14. I’m in my mid 20’s & I still go to a dermatologist for acne.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

15. I have never dyed my hair.  Or had a perm.  Or even gotten hi-lights (how do you even spell that?!).  It’s a damn good thing I have naturally wavy hair that more or less styles itself or I would be screwed because I have no clue how to style hair & not much interest in learning.  What could be more boring than standing in front of a mirror staring at myself?

16. I despise modern pop music.  The lyrics are so superficial & vapid that it makes my head spin.

17. I prefer the mountains to the beach.  And I have a hard time NOT checking my work email when I’m on vacation.  I know, something is wrong with me.  Clearly.

18. I never rode in a taxi until I was 19.

19. I don’t have cable TV.  Growing up, I was so annoyed with my parents for not paying for cable TV because it meant I was always out of the loop at school.  But now that I’m an adult I just can’t bring myself to spend $60-$80/month on something I care to watch so rarely.

19. I haven’t read Harry Potter, Twilight, or 50 Shades of Grey.  But I have read a ton of other less popular books & I actually enjoyed reading the vast majority of my college textbooks.  I know, I am such a nerd.

20. I really don’t like cooking.  I don’t hate it by any means.  But it just isn’t something that I enjoy.  I wish I did.  I really do.  I have tried.  But it just isn’t happening.  Yet.

21. I over-think everything.  Duh.  Or I wouldn’t be posting this crap.

22. I am a perfectionist.  And yet my house is only marginally organized & far from spotless.  And half of the decorations in my house are stuffed animals.  If that makes me creepy, so be it.

23. As you can tell from the above listed items, I’m a nerd.  Yet I don’t like Star Wars, Star Trek, LOTR, or any of the “cool” nerd stuff.  I don’t hate those things.  I just don’t have any real interest in them.

24.  I’ve never really liked children very much, & yet I can’t stop thinking about being a mom lately.  What is wrong with me?!!

25. I don’t use Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Pinterest.  But I do maintain this crazy blog because I love writing & it helps keep me sane.

As much as I’d love to say that I revel in being weird, I’m not sure that I do.  Some days I do love all the crazy things that make me who I am.   And other days like today I just feel like I’m destined to always be weird & unsure where I fit in life.  Again, I know I over-think this stuff.  Forgive me.  To my friends who make me feel less weird & ridiculous, thank you.  I always say I know I have found a true friend when I meet someone who makes me feel a little less crazy & a little more normal.  Y’all know who you are & I am grateful for your friendship.