New Castle News

July 23, 2012

Lisa Madras: If I could go back in time, I would — and focus on today

Lisa Madras
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — If you had the opportunity to travel back in time, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

You'd have to be living under a rock to have missed the newest viral video racking up the hits on YouTube.  

Jeremiah McDonald, a 32-year-old filmmaker with an almost unbelievably far-reaching concept, videotapes himself at the age of 12, and splices it with a current video of himself, where the two ask each other questions and trade some other witty banter.

It's such an adorable concept, and I'm super jealous that I didn't think of it myself. (I'm not sure video cameras actually existed that long ago, but hey, a girl can still beat herself up over nothing, you know.)

So I got to thinking about the types of questions I might have had my 12-year-old self ask a "future" me. The problem is, at 12, my main concerns in life were which flavor of Bonnie Bell lip gloss to wear, and if I should dumb myself down when passing a note to the cute guy in home room.

Yeah, forget my 12-year-old self. She'd probably just want to know who she married, how many kids she had, and if she still carried that hated "chubby baby" face. (Sigh ... yes, Lisa.)

So I thought I'd set my sights on my 18-year-old self instead. Now THAT one! She could have used some solid answers about the state of the future. In my estimation, though, she was still pretty naive, so I'm not letting her ask the questions. I'm just going to tell her the most important things I want her to know.

1. You're probably not going to know what you want to do with your life for a long, long time. In the meantime, meet as many people as you can, do as many things as you can, learn as much about the world as you can.  

2. Don't take the credit cards they hand you when you walk onto your college campus your first day of school. Start the habit early of buying only what you have the cash to buy. Otherwise, you'll spend the rest of your life playing catch up.

3. Don't believe ANYBODY the first time they say "I love you." People use this phrase to gain a multitude of things from you that they probably don't deserve. It might feel good to hear it at first, but it will only lead to heartache later on. If somebody loves you, they SHOW it. Every. Single.  Day. Only then should you believe them.

4. Always remember that respect is a two-way street. You can show everyone in the world the utmost respect, but if they don't show it back, don't remain a part of their lives. And this goes for friends, lovers, and bosses. There's always somebody else out there who will treat you as you deserve to be treated, and will appreciate what you do for them AND who you are.

5. Don't ever be afraid of change. If people and circumstances didn't change, we'd all still be wearing diapers and living in grass huts. If the change doesn't work out well, remember that not too many decisions have to be permanent. (Except tattoos, so if you ever get one, make it something discreet and that you're sure will be meaningful for a lifetime, because people WILL judge you for it, but it will make for a great conversation-starter in the nursing home someday.) Also, be very wary of people who are resistant to change. They will hurt you many times before you wise up.

6. Unless you are one of the very, very fortunate ones, some aspect(s) of your life will probably not turn out as you'd always hoped. It is VITAL that you count your blessings, each and every day, and always be thankful for what you have — even if it isn't quite what you originally wanted.  Your very happiness depends upon it.

7. Learn to do anything you possibly can for yourself, including changing the oil in your car and growing your own vegetables. Dependency is the most dangerous state in the world. Conversely, don't turn down help when it's offered.

8. Read as much Maya Angelou as possible. She will teach you hundreds of valuable lessons, the most important of which is this: When someone shows you who they are, believe them. In fact, read as much as you can by anyone in this world who has been wounded and has come through it enough to share their story. They'll teach you more truths than you ever imagined possible.

9. Lose weight now. You will never again have this metabolism. And you will be judged in every area of your future life by people who determine your self-worth by your weight — including yourself.

10. You won't meet God until you're almost 40-years-old, even though He's been a part of you all along. Don't worry about the rest of the world's version of God, or the battles over religions and denominations. Just listen to Him, in whatever manner He chooses to speak you. He's going to save your life someday.