My teenaged self was a teenager in a happy middle-class home from 1968 to 1974 in Fort Morgan, Colorado, where I grew up on a ranch north of town. I was in 4-H, showed quarter horses, did a little rodeoing (including rodeo queen), and spent a lot of time with my maternal grandpa who lived just over the way and around the pond.
At 18 years old, I sustained a brain concussion (now would be diagnosed as traumatic brain injury) with permanent memory loss.
It was a life-altering experience psychologically and the organic change in my brain brought on depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. While I was able to go on living a ‘normal’ life (and what an extraordinarily wonderful life it’s been to this day), I’ve whipped the depression, for the most part, and the panic attacks and anxiety are manageable the older I get.
I have gaps in my childhood memories to this day. I’m fortunate that my family could tell me stories and help fill in those gaps.
Here is my advice to my teenaged self.
- Don’t be in a hurry to grow up.
- You were always a reader and writer. Keep reading and writing. Books will be your best, and only, friend sometimes. Writing will pay off. Your dream of being published is way in your future, but it’s there waiting for you.
- Life is going to send you down some long and winding roads, but you’ll never lose your way, even when it seems the darkness will never end, and you think there’s no hope for better days. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You will get where you’re headed just fine.
- Despite having no interest in college, you’re going to earn post graduate degrees. As your paternal grandma advised all the granddaughters from the time they were old enough to ‘sort of’ understand, “Get a college education so you won’t have to depend upon a man to take care of you and support you. Do not lose your independence.” Wise words. Heed them.
- Don’t doubt yourself, your intelligence, your self-worth, and your ability to achieve anything you put your mind to. Your inherent stubbornness, determination, and resilience will serve you well. Draw upon them.
- You won’t be a perfect parent. In fact, you’ll be a single parent of three kids, but you will instill in them self-reliance and resilience that will also serve them well when they’re grown. You’ll look at them as they raise their own children, and you’ll smile and say to yourself, “I did good.”
- Love your childhood sweetheart with all your heart. Years from now, you will meet again, but it will break your heart to say goodbye, because goodbye it must be. You both have other lives waiting to be lived.
- Spend as much time with your parents as possible. You will be their rock in their golden years. They’ll count on you to be with them at the end of their long lives, and you will be. Embrace it. Cherish it and them.
- Most importantly, forgive yourself for anything and everything that keeps you awake at night. There’s not a thing you will have done that will cause you regret or shame. You did what you had to do, and you did it your way.
What advice would you give to your teenaged self?
Until next time,
writing through history one romance upon a time
*images: canstock, fotolia
How did you get the brain concussion, if you don’t mind me asking? Was it a horse injury? That’s a really tough thing to come back from, but I’m glad you did.
I don’t mind you asking at all. I got the concussion from pure stupidity. It was the evening of Baccalaureate before high school graduation. I was at a girl friend’s house getting ready for the ceremony. My boyfriend was with me. We were all goofing around in a good-natured way like 18-year-old graduating seniors can be. The floors in this house were polished hard wood. There were throw rugs. Being silly and my boyfriend was teasing me, I took off running outside with him chasing me. I hit one of those throw rugs on a dead run, and it took my feet out from under me. I went down like a rock, and my head hit the floor, also like a rock. I didn’t quite pass out, but I was woozy and disoriented for a little bit. I shook it off as nothing serious, and we all went about our business. Two days later, I passed out. This time when I came-to, I had memory loss, and it was all downhill for many years after that. I was a teenager, and I was sure I was ten feet tall and bullet proof, as the saying goes.
Wow. It’s crazy how something seemingly innocent than change your life. Glad you got through it – can’t imagine – so much of our identity is wrapped in our memories.