That when you find yourself explaining away the behavior of a man who you think loves you more than anyone has ever loved you with words like ‘he doesn’t really mean it’ or ‘it’s just a cultural thing’ or ‘it will get better when we are married’, you really shouldn’t proceed with the marriage. In fact, you should listen to the voice screaming in your head that the path you’re going down is the wrong one. Yes, he does make you feel amazing sometimes. And, yes, he does awake this crazy passion in you. But, he also hurts you. So deeply. His words will wear you down to the point you don’t even recognize yourself, his anger will scare you to the point that you’ll lock yourself in your bathroom or sleep in the little space between the wall and the bed to feel a modicum of safety. Within just a few months of your marriage, you’ll find yourself going to your shift in the hospital after having the worst fight of your life that somehow ended up with you on the floor getting pummeled by his fists. It will be a long, long road to get over that and all the other pain he caused you. You’ll happen upon the scars even years later. It will make it hard for you to fully love someone new, even when he actually is amazing. If you’d just listen to yourself and that quiet voice inside, you’d avoid so much pain.
That when people make you feel small inside because they have an opinion that your body should be smaller than it happens to be, you should summon every ounce of strength you have to ignore them. Ignore it all. When you overhear them talking about you. When they come to you with concern over your weight gain after your freshman year of college. Even when they praise you for losing weight after being so sick while living abroad that you laid in bed late one night scared that you were actually going to die. Ignore it all. You’ll save yourself so much wasted energy, not to mention thousands of dollars of therapy. Perhaps if you ignore it, you’ll be able to stop the automatic thoughts that cause you to berate yourself. It’s like a marble rolling down a mountain of sand thousands of times – all those thoughts on autopilot. You’ll eventually learn to reprogram them, but it’s not easy and it’s not permanent. It will be something you’ll likely work on for the rest of your life.
That adulthood really is about keeping up with the Jones’ if you’re not careful. Somehow you’ll get caught up in a stressful job in a town you hate for a few years, piling up bills and not taking your vacation time. You’ll think back to the adulthood you idealized as a kid and wonder how you made a wrong turn. You didn’t, really, it’s just harder than you thought it would be. You can make it easier on yourself by marching to the beat of your own drum, watching out for consumerism and lifestyle inflation and only pursuing the things that truly matter to you. Even at 31, you won’t exactly know what that means, but you’ll at least have the wisdom to know to keep trying to learn.
That Mas will pass away someday. Yes, I wish you could’ve know that the little boy you fell in love with while living in Gambia was only going to make it to eights years on this earth. You probably would’ve loved him even better and even deeper when you had the chance to live in his light. You might’ve tried to teach him to swim even though he was deathly afraid of the water. Probably not, but maybe it would have occurred to you. Losing him will be one of the hardest things you’ll have to face in this life and it will always, always hurt. BUT, and this is a big but, someday you’ll realize that even though losing him was hard, loving him was worth it. Unfortunately, you’ll waste a lot of time trying to fool yourself into believing that it’s better to never love than to risk your heart breaking to someone. You’ll lose a lot of time to thinking that isolation is a worthwhile trade-off to make for the deep love of true connection, but thankfully you’ll wake up at some point and realize that you’re crazy and open your heart again. It will be worth it and you’ll find ways to honor your love for Mas for the rest of your life.
That you should listen when your gut tells you to make a change. Don’t wait until you’re miserable and mean to listen to your own intuition. Move to a new town, take a new job, get a new puppy. For God’s sake, just take action and deal with the consequences later. Who knew that the girl everyone thought was so impulsive would end up so scared?
That calling is always a good idea. Yes, it sucks to actually pick up the phone, but you’ll stack up a lot of regrets in life due to your unwillingness to call someone when you know you should. If your friend’s dad passes away unexpectedly, just call. If you feel like you need to ring your own dad out of the blue, just do it. If you feel like you did something kind of shitty to someone, have the balls to pick up the phone and tell them sorry. If your friend is dying of cancer, god dammit, just call her. Call her until she knows for sure how much she means to you.
That you’ll always feel like your writing sucks and that it’s not worth even trying to write when it’s so hard to be successful at it. You’ll lose years that you could’ve been writing to second-guessing yourself. Your writing will suffer for it, you will suffer for it. Somehow ten years will pass without much happening on the writing front and you’ll only have a half-assed blog to show for it. Keep writing anyway. Even if nothing comes out of it, it’s worth it if only for the peace of mind it brings you.