As a kid, you always imagine what it'll be like to be an adult. You get this image in your head of what you'll look like, or act like, or even who your husband will be like. A lot of it comes from watching tv, or the things you see and people tell you. As you get older, you realize that there's so much more to the world than your small mind ever could've imagined, but you can't help but let your childhood preconceived notions affect things. There are things I wish I could've told my 8-year old self, so that I could have been better prepared for growing up. Things I wish I hadn't gotten so hung up on, or things I wish I would have let go. Some are silly, and some are important, but they all affected the way I grew up and perceived the world.
You never get boobs.
As a kid, I always imagined myself getting boobs and looking womanly. But I don't look (or feel) womanly. Sometimes I can still pass for a high school kid, definitely a college kid, and people are shocked when I tell them I'm getting married. You don't really get to a point where you feel like an adult. You just kind of are one. How do you know? Well, there are bills you have to pay, or a lease in your name, or things you don't really have to do (like go to college) but you do it anyway since it will make your life better. The things that you thought would make you an adult (like boobs, or looking womanly) actually have no impact on whether you are one or not.
You can be whatever you want.
When people ask what you want to be when you grow up, it's a very limiting question. You're 8. They only teach you about the common careers- teachers, lawyers, doctors. No one tells you about engineering, or marketing, or dog walking. You don't see a franchise owner on your little flash cards. The truth is, there are SO many careers out there that you won't know about as an 8 year old, or an 18 year old, or even an 88 year old. There are limitless possibilities, so don't fret if you can't decide now or even when you're an adult. Career choices are meant to shift and adapt to your changing life. And being a superhero is always an acceptable answer. Because although you can't wear a cape and fly, sometimes you are saving lives (even in just a metaphorical sense).
You'll still be scared sh*tless.
As an 8-year old, you're afraid of the dark, or dogs, or the house full of "witches" on your block (true story). And you think that adults are brave, so when you grow up, you won't be scared of anything anymore. Well guess what kid? You'll still be scared of stuff when you get older! Fear is a part of life. It's human nature. Being able to get over your fears, or finding the strength to move forward in spite of them, is what happens when you grow up.
You're still annoying.
When I was a kid, I was really annoying. I always wanted things my way, and I never understood why I couldn't get it. I was insanely stubborn, ruled by my emotions, and kinda whiney. At almost 28 years old, I'm the same way, just the grown up version. You don't grow out of being yourself. Yes, you evolve and you mature, but deep down you're still very much like that 8-year kid, just the grown-up version. For me, wanting things my own way means that I am independent and like to try to find my own way of doing things, even if it means failing. I'm still ruled by my emotions, which means I can get really mad at someone about something trivial, but also means I'm extremely empathetic and try to help people in every way I can. I'm still whiney, and I wish there was something good to be said about that, but hey, sometimes you gotta take the bad with the good. I've tried to change myself, but it doesn't work, because I am me. Which leads me to....
Don't let people try to change you.
There will always be people who try to change you. I think this happens the most when you're starting to date or make friends, but it can even be from your parents. People will try their hardest to change you and this will make you really sad. It's hard to feel like people don't like you for who you are. And wishing you were someone else is never the right feeling to have. So don't let people try to change you... but allow them to try and improve you. What's the difference? Changing means being someone who isn't yourself. Improving means finding a new part of yourself that you didn't know existed. This is important, not only for your well-being, but for others as well. Don't try to make people into what you think they need to be, but instead try to find their hidden magic. The stuff they won't allow themselves to be. That's the only way to improve their life.
It's really not that bad.
As a kid, I would throw fits over the most ridiculous things. Like not getting the toy I wanted in my happy meal, or the name-brand brownie snack I wanted, or getting to see Titanic at 8pm when it's a 3-hour movie and my dad said he'd take me tomorrow morning. To me this felt like the absolute end of the world, and I wish I can say I grew out of feeling that way. I wish I understood then what I know to be true today. Whatever "crisis" you are facing right now, it really isn't that bad. There are always people who have worse situations. And they will tell you that. Sometimes, this isn't meant to belittle your situation, but just to give you some perspective. Life doesn't go your way. You have to put on your big girl pants, get over it, and move on. Sad but true.
No one gives a sh*t.
My parents are those parents where everything you do is considered amazing. I can draw a line on a paper, say "look mommy, I made art!", and she'll say "wow that's amazing!" and keep it forever. Like, probably even if I drew that today, I would get a similar reaction. The sad truth about life is that not everyone will see your potential. For some, painting the next Mona Lisa will garner an "ehhhh" response. The truth is that most people don't give a shit, because they're so wrapped up in their own lives. You won't get a lollipop for doing a good job, or a raise for being the best, or a pat on the back for helping out. Sometimes you don't even get a "thank you" for holding the door open! You have to find a way to be proud of yourself, and stop relying on outside influence. It's great when someone tells you that something is amazing. What's even better is knowing yourself that it's amazing.
Stop living according to your expectations.
As a kid, I had this picture in my head of what it meant to be an adult, what high school would be like, my wedding, etc. As I got older, I found things to be very disappointing. My high school wasn't full of cool people, and even if it was, I sure wouldn't be considered one of them. We didn't have lockers, I didn't feel happy, and some of my friends turned out to be terrible people. Guess what? Life isn't like the movies. To this day, this one still baffles me. I still expect things to go like my preconceived notion of them, and I'm constantly allowing myself to be disappointed by that. Some people's lives mimic movies, some people's don't. Life is what you make it, and life is real. This means that situations aren't perfectly set up and scripted. They're complex, messy, and unpredictable. If you live according to your expectations, you will always be disappointed. Learn to see the good in life, instead of what you're missing out on.
An elephant never forgets.
When I was a kid, I once really wanted a pair of shoes from Payless. My parents didn't have money, but they promised to come back and get them for me. I threw a fit- I needed them now. My uncle said he would take me back to get them. Not good enough either. I had to be picked me up, kicking and screaming, and taken out of the store. Now another story- in high school, we went on a class trip and someone wasn't feeling well. I stuck with her, asking her how she was doing, walking slowly and staying behind with her, even when her so-called friends ditched her. She was so appreciative of it, and we still remain great friends. In fact, she's the one performing our wedding ceremony! What's the common theme? I know these things happened because I've heard the story, even though I don't actually remember it happening. People don't forget what you've done, even if you have. That can be good or bad, as exhibited in these two very different stories. Always be careful what you say and do, because it'll stick with people.
Always be true to yourself.
Listen, there will always be people out there who try to change you. It's your job to know what you want for yourself, why you want it, and to be strong in your decisions. It'll be hard, but try not to let other people put you into the so-called "box" that society has. Some people can't fathom a person that doesn't fit in becoming successful, but of course it can be done! There is a place for everyone. So if you like to wear bright colors, go for it. If you want to dye your hair purple, do it! If your hobby is dressing up your pet in funny outfits, buy the best ones. And don't let other people try to tell you that you can't be who you want to be. In the words of the great Dr. Suess "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You." It's by being yourself, and standing out, that you will be remembered.
Phew! That's a lot of preaching I just did there, but I think it's really important to know these things, even as an adult. They're still really important! So, what would you go back and tell your 8 year old self? Do you have a piece of advice that you were given, something that's stuck with you all these years? Let me know in the comments below!