Tomorrow I do my first 20-miler of this training cycle. I haven’t run 20 miles all at one time since the Boston Marathon almost exactly two years ago. I don’t know why 20 miles is messing with my head so much. Oh, wait – yes I do. Because it is 20 freaking miles of running (insert non-runners favorite quote here “I can’t even drive that far!”)
Yesterday my “little” girl, Emma, turned 12. She knows how I am and asked me if I was going to cry at various points throughout the day. I keep trying to explain to her that when I get teary about her getting older, when I get misty eyed when I look at younger pictures of her – it’s not because I’m sad – it’s because I’m feeling deep emotion – pride, nostalgia, happiness – okay, and maybe just a tad bit of sadness for a time gone by – a time to never occur again.
I loved being 12. It was one of my favorite years of my life. I distinctly remember feeling young and little girlish when I was 11 – but really coming into my own when I was 12 (although puberty didn’t come until much later – hell, I think I’m still going through puberty). For many people, 13 is the BIG year, but for me – 12 brought on so many changes.
First and foremost, my family picked up and moved to Athens, Greece. I was yanked out of security and familiarity and dropped into culture shock, a new school, a new home, a new language, new friends, and a whole new country. I grew up a lot that year. And, fast. (Here is my passport picture from 1979. Does ANYONE have a good passport picture?)
I had so much to learn. I still have so much to learn. But at this moment in time – there are things I want Emma to know.
12 Things I Would Want My 12-Year-Old-Self to Know:
1. Being perfect is over-rated. No One and No Thing is perfect. Striving for perfection will only make you unhappy. Remember to always show up as who you are, and do not apologize for that. Your job is to be the best Emma you can be. Be yourself. Be your own person. Always do and say what is true for you and you cannot go wrong.
2. You will meet some boy someday who you think you cannot live without. But if he makes you change who you are, or makes you think less of yourself or does not live up to your high standards of what you think you deserve, he is not the one for you. Always know what you are worth.
3. Having good friends is essential – a true gift in your life. A friend always has your best interests in mind, but a friend is not always perfect. Remember that just like you, your friends are human. They will make mistakes and let you down. If they are a true friend, give them the benefit of the doubt. And remember, friendships will change. It is just part of life. Sometimes it will be time to let a friendship go, and that is okay.
4. To have a good friend, you must be a good friend. Be loyal, caring, and dependable. Listen, but don’t be afraid to lean on your friends for advice and support.
5. Even though it might sometimes seem that your friends are living a better life than you do–maybe they have more stuff, maybe they are an only child and get lots of attention, maybe they have tons of brothers and sisters and that seems fun, maybe they live in a huge house, maybe they take major vacations – whatever the case, or whatever the reason is that you think they have a life that you want – the grass is not greener. The life you have is exactly the one meant for you. The life you have can be whatever you want it to be. And, if you count your blessings and appreciate what you have, you will have the greatest life of all.
6. Love your brother. Sam might get on your nerves, but he is the only sibling you have. As you get older, he will become more and more important to you. You and Sam share a bond that you will never have with anyone else. Cherish that.
7. Cut your parents some slack. They are not perfect either, although they are doing the best that they can. As you get older, you will blame them for things – just remember that we always loved you and tried to do what we thought was the right thing for your growth and happiness.
8. Don’t hold grudges, life is too short.
9. Think about what you love to do and think about it a lot. Make sure you do bits of these things everyday. Always have the big picture in mind, and think forward to how you can bring the love and passion for those things into your life as you get older. This might happen in your job, by having children, in your marriage, who knows. Just never lose sight of the simple things that make you happy.
10. Be active. Not for the purpose of being thin or looking a certain way but because it makes you a better, more well-rounded person. Being active and moving your body will relieve stress, will put your life in perspective, will keep you young.
11. If you hurt someone, say you are sorry.
12. Do not worry. Worry will eat you up inside. Do your best everyday, then let the little things go. Things have a way of working themselves out. One of the best things to learn at a young age is that we cannot control things. The harder we try to make things a certain way, the more we will suffer because things NEVER hardly go as planned. Do your best to be open to the mystery of life.
What would you tell your younger self if you could?
What was your favorite age?