Year-end mode has descended upon me. And today I found myself digging through my archive in search of this post I wrote a decade ago. Yep, a decade ago. When I was 22 with a wee brain a touch more developed than a toddler’s. The embarrassment I typically experience on reading posts from that far back was nowhere to be found today. Instead, an oddly liberating relief and peace has taken its place.
I went hunting for the post because the Sunscreen Song has been on my mind today. And I wanted to recollect the context in which it was last relevant in my life.
I’m at that spot again, the crossroads where I turn to inspirational music, books and pinterest-ey quotes to reassure myself. To remind myself that this is a cycle. Turning and turning in the widening gyre, we are. While only the scenes and contexts change, the recurrence of angst is much the same, presenting itself in different forms. But it is, at its core, the same restlessness that is necessary to forge ahead. To force us to break out of our comfortable shells and just grow, live, shine a little.
I found myself thinking about the Sunscreen Song today. This part especially, because it’s a rather apt summation of what I’ve felt this year, and a little bit of the wisdom I’ve attempted to accept, to make my peace with everything that has happened and move through it.
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much
Or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can
Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own, dance
Even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room
Read the directions even if you don’t follow them
Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good
Be nice to your siblings, they are your best link to your past
And the people most likely to stick with you in the future
Understand that friends come and go
But a precious few, who should hold on
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
For as the older you get, the more you need the people
You knew when you were young
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard
Live in northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft
Travel, accept certain inalienable truths
Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old
And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young
Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble
And children respected their elders
Respect your elders, don’t expect anyone else to support you
Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse
But you’ll never know when either one will run out
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re forty
It will look eighty-five
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
Wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off
Painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it’s worth
But trust me on the sunscreen.
From the sound of it, the decade old post is a rant related to decisions involving a boy in my life. Which is sweet and innocent haha considering it was a boy that was the epitome of “conflict” back then. If I could go back in time, I’d tell 22-year old me to relax a little, because the “decisions” and “choices” and “tough calls” I’ve attempted to make this year have made boy trouble from a decade ago feel like a cakewalk.
In the old post I’m clearly making not-so-veiled references to my parents. They’re the “audience” the eyes that I thought would judge me. The reason I felt like justifying my choices. And the hardest thing I did then was do as I damn well pleased anyway, leaving them to deal with it.
And deal with it they did. So gracefully.
If I could go back in time, I’d tell 22-year old me to relax a little, and prepare for a much harsher judgmental pair of eyes to come. Watching closely over every decision I make.
I mean myself, of course. My own eyes, watching my every move. I’d tell 22-year old me to stop trying hard to justify myself to the eyes around, and turn inwards and learn to appease that eager gaze first. I’d never have imagined coming to terms with decisions, building the courage to break and follow through, and learning to go a little easy on myself would ever be so hard.
I’d tell 22-year old me to stop being my harshest critic. Nip it in the bud.
I’d tell 22-year old me to relax a little, because no matter how meandering life is, and no matter how many different ways it unfurls in, no matter how varied, diverse and infinite the situations we find ourselves in, the inspiration, solutions, solace, advice and faith we turn to come from a finite set of things we know to be true.
And thank god for that.