to my eighth-grade self

Some of my blog stalkees have a weekly “Friday’s Letters” post, and I like this idea but want to try a slightly different spin today. A letter to myself of sorts. I don’t really have a ton of regrets in my life, and I believe that the choices I’ve made—right or wrong—have led me to the happiness I have now with Ben and Allie. But occasionally I reflect on what I might do differently if I could do it all over. At the same time, there are a few things I would want to make sure I do again. I feel like a lot of the choices that put me on the path I’m on now began in high school, so here are a few things I would tell my eighth-grade self to either redo or repeat:

REDO

  1. Get really good at math and science. It will be hard, and it will feel like you’re not cut out for it (especially in your physics class), but find a friend who’s good at it, check out books from the library, or hire a tutor until you are comfortable. Knowing this stuff well will open a lot of doors for you.
  2. Enjoy college and TAKE YOUR TIME. Believe it or not, this will be the easiest, most carefree time of your life. Never again will you get to fall asleep in a hallway, have easy access to learn any subject, get two weeks off at Christmas, or find more opportunities for self-discovery. So don’t rush to graduate in three years like it’s some big achievement!
  3. Hang on to that old flip phone. Eventually you’ll have to join the smart phone bandwagon or risk social ostracism, but don’t rush it. You will miss the simple days of monophonic ringtones and actually using your brain to remember information.
  4. Don’t lose your Russian! Once you get back from St. Petersburg (see #2 below), commit yourself to speaking Russian with someone at least once a week. For the rest of your life. You feel fluent now, but after a few years you’ll be racking your brain for the Russian word for fork.
  5. Take the GRE! Or the GMAT. Or the MCAT for all I care. Just do it while all that knowledge is fresh in your mind. Otherwise you’ll talk yourself out of grad school and be faced with the task of doing it while you have kids (which, future Bethany expects, will be a lot harder).

REPEAT

  1. Treat high school like a job. Move heaven and earth to get good grades, get involved, and apply for every college scholarship under the sun. You will thank me later!
  2. Sign up for that 8 AM Russian 101 class your freshman year of college. And stick with it, clear through the Study Abroad to St. Petersburg. This experience is essential for your personal growth! Also, see #4 above.
  3. Don’t join Myspace. It’s just going to turn trashy and weird.
  4. Treasure your college friends. A handful of them will still be your best friends 10 years later.
  5. On December 5, 2008, be in Springfield, Virginia. Go to the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party thrown by some girls in the singles ward. Look for the guy in the white turtleneck and ridiculous red vest with retractable mistletoe. When he comes up to you—trust me on this one—stay and talk.
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