some you lose, and some you give away

I've enjoyed teaching Business students this semester. Maybe I got a really great class or maybe in English they feel comfortable really talking to me. Perhaps it's that they haven't yet begun the process of bullshitting about who they are. I often tease them about being too honest with me, about why they can't make it to class or why they need more time with an assignment. I feel connected and distant at the same time. I feel so far from the girl who would have sat next to them in class. Will posted a Billy Collins poem that resonated with me as I thought about the notes I scribbled in margins as an undergraduate and Master's student. I'd been reflecting on some of the experiences I had during that time as I've been working on my narrative and as I read Stephanie Klein's post . What would I tell my younger selves if I could? Would the encouragement/advice/warnings be different at different stages in my life? As my younger self would I listen? Probably not, not to all of it anyway. Something might get through, though. I think this because I remember scouring bookstores and reading poems, phrases, first lines of novels, dialog, any text that I found inspirational, encouraging, heartbreaking. I wrote down in journals and on post it notes things that inspired me. I did this for years. In many ways, I was creating links the way I can easily do through technology now. So because of that, I think I would pay some attention to my future self's advice.

This is not an exhaustive list. But it includes things I needed to hear as a girl, and woman and some things I might need to remind myself today.

Your mother loves you. She may not express it well but it's because you are so smart, and so put together and she doesn't know how to talk to you. You amaze her to the point she's a little bit afraid of you. Keep trying to forge a connection with her because you will need her desperately one day and she will be there to listen to what you have to say. I know this because my mother told me recently that she's been in awe of me as long as she could remember and that I can be incredibly intimidating, even to her. Or maybe especially to her.

It is okay to be disappointed in people. Don't take it personally when others don't live up to your expectations. You won't understand why others aren't reliable and dependable and they won't get why it matters so much to you. This is the beauty and the frustration of difference.

Cut yourself some slack. You can never be good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or well liked enough to change the events that will alter your perceptions of the world. Your mother will still suffer from depression no matter how much you pray or wish she weren't. You will still suffer from cruelty and violence. Shitty things happen for no apparent reason. No amount of wishing makes it not so.

Let people in. Do it in spite of the fact that they will hurt or disappoint you. Let others get to know you, the real you. Let them say you are intense or difficult or wild without taking on only that one persona. I guarantee you will be happier in your relationships.

Ask for help. You cannot take on the world. You are strong, but you aren't invincible. You need other people and they want to be there for you. Lean on them. Ask for favors and when they ask one of you, understand this is humanity.

Fall in love. Let yourself go especially if you are terrified. Learn to embrace the things of which you are afraid, particularly when it comes to love. You cannot live if you are so concerned with protecting yourself that you don't give yourself permission to care about other people or make mistakes with them. Remember, you'll disappoint other people, too and you'll begin to understand that sometimes being scared makes everyone a bit crazy.

When you find the person who makes you feel short of breath, who makes you want to tell every secret, every story about yourself you ever knew, don't run away. Embrace that feeling. Don't freak out when you feel this way about a girl. It may get confusing but trust your instincts. Know that feelings like that don't happen very often for you, for anyone.

Be less judgmental. Be kind. The sooner you become comfortable sharing your space in this world with others, the better off you'll be.

Believe in the good in people even when they hurt you or when you're disappointed, angry or upset with them.

Make the best decisions you can and accept whatever circumstances follow. Don't beat yourself up or apologize if it doesn't work out. Do the best you can and own what follows. Part of this means trusting yourself and not relying on other's validation of your choices.

Appreciate the small moments of your life like watching the girl you love across the room, knowing whatever story she is telling, she is thinking of you and when she looks up, smile at her. The daily grind of life can drag you down so remember that there are perfect weather days that you can enjoy alone or together.

Cut your losses. While being dependable and responsible can be strengths there are times when you can't stay in something, a friendship or relationship, a job. There are times, when negativity is too much. You have to know when to cut your losses.

Music will be your solace. Your soundtrack will be unlike anyone else's. Enjoy it.

You are not responsible for other people's happiness, only your own. You are not responsible for everything that happens in the world. Taking care of yourself is a huge responsibility. Don't punish yourself by taking on other's happiness. Don't feel guilty for saying no when you feel pushed to take responsibility for others.

You cannot control anything but your own actions. Period. Read that again. Make it your mantra. Trust me on this.