GINGER: Listen to me, 17-year-old me

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By Ginger Truitt

I recently read a letter that someone had written to their 17-year-old self. Mostly, she was admonishing herself to enjoy being with her mom and to stop rolling her eyes so much.
I thought it would be an interesting exercise to write a letter to my 17-year-old self. Not that it will do much good, a quarter of a century later, but I’d like to see where it goes.
 Dear me,
 I hardly recognize you! I don’t remember joining the circus. You might want to stop using such a heavy hand when applying your blusher and eye shadow.
And fork over a measly $3 out of your tip money to buy a Clairol hair coloring kit. Pouring peroxide over your head is not doing you any favors. I don’t remember “haystack” ever being a fashionable hairdo.
 For Pete’s sake, stop checking the phone to make sure there is a dial tone! Your time is worthwhile, and you should be doing something of value or at least something you enjoy.
When he finally calls, is the thrill really worth the fun you miss out on while you wait? He’s going to be a loser anyway. Trust me on this.
No matter which one of the guys you are waiting on when you receive this letter, I happen to know that he is not going to treat you right.
The love of your life won’t come along until you are older, so find something productive to do in the meantime. (And since you aren’t going to listen to this advice, let me encourage you to spend some more of your tip money on one of those new cordless phones. Then at least you can hang around somewhere besides the hallway.)
 Now, let’s talk about our weight. The day will come when you’d give anything to be as “fat” as you are right now. So, stop the crazy diets. Stop wearing clothes that are uncomfortable in an attempt to look smaller.
Stop letting your petite mother compare you to petite girls. And keep that itty-bitty bathing suit she is insisting you give away.
You really do look great in it, and someday you will wish you had some not-so-modest pictures to prove it! (But don’t tell your teenage daughters you said that.)
  I know you’ve been raised under some serious religious restraints, and that’s not all bad.
However, you need to seek out the truth. If you study it a bit, you will find that it’s not about God trying to trip you up because you didn’t get the rules right.
It’s about having a relationship. It’s you loving God, and Him loving you, and then doing whatever results from that.
It’s going to be a while before you release yourself from the burden of the “ideal” Christian life.
In the meantime, don’t judge others so harshly. You will encounter lots of amazing people whose faith is not played out in the way you’ve been taught. Enjoy them!
  Also, you are doing pretty well in school, so imagine how much better you could do if you actually studied!
You are smarter than you think, and you have a brain for math even though your third grade teacher said otherwise. So, consider applying yourself and see where it takes you.
 A few last pieces of advice based on hindsight:
 Watch where you’re going! You will always regret totaling your beautiful Thunderbird.
 When that Patrick Swayze look-alike you waited on at Shoney’s asks you to meet him in the parking lot after work, don’t do it. It will take years for you to come to terms with that night.
 Stop letting life just happen to you because you think you have no control over your circumstances.
Think about what you want, and then go for it.
 Tell your English teacher she is impacting you and you will always keep the note she wrote saying you have a future as a writer.
At 17, you don’t recognize the signs of her illness. Take time to thank her right now.
 Enjoy spending time with your mom. She’s also not going to be around as long as you think.
Overlook her concern with your weight and ask her some questions about her life, her dreams and what she wants most for you.
 Oh, and one other thing: stop rolling your eyes so much!
Ginger is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Her award-winning column appears weekly across Indiana and Kentucky. Contact her at ginger@gingertruitt.com or visit www.gingertruitt.com.