I recently came upon a shoebox full of old pictures when my sister was in town, which ultimately led to a good hour of what was equal parts reminiscing and embarrassment. Mainly, we made fun of our hair. (Note that 1. we both once had real live bowl cuts, and 2. I still have essentially the same hair style that I had in my 2nd grade class picture.) But looking through them also made us both think. I mean, isn't that weird to see pictures of yourself as this tiny person, and to think of how much has happened in your life since that time, and to realize that you just had absolutely no idea that it would turn out the way it has? I was so young in most of these shots that I don't remember them being taken or even where I was, but I wonder what I was thinking, or if I had any comprehension of the path in front of me.
I do know that once I was old enough to talk, I was certain that by the age I am now, I'd have already been a famous actress, Olympic athlete, prima ballerina and President of the United States. Well child Melissa, I'm sorry to break the news that none of those things are going to pan out. You're actually going to lose interest in those particular aspirations all together (except the acting one; you'll lose interest in that one only after you spend 4 years at a university to get a degree in it that you'll never use. Oops.) In fact, you'll come to find out not much of anything is going to go according to plan.
You're going to go on to change your mind about what you want to be when you grow up many times, even after you're an adult. You're going to travel the world and move all over the country in an attempt to "find yourself." And you're going to have both amazing and soul-crushing experiences, none of which you could have ever predicted.
You're going to establish a career, and you're going to spend years working way too much, because somewhere along the way you'll convince yourself that success is everything and that you must be defined by your career. This is wrong, but it's going to be a good lesson.
You're going to fall in love several times, but ultimately it will be with the one with whom you were meant to be. (So when you're a teenager and feel defeated by all those boys you date who don't appreciate you, just remember that you're going to become strong on your own first, and when it's time to find your life-long partner, it will be one of the good ones.)
And eventually, you're going to hit a point where you really start to feel comfortable. You will no longer feel like you need to define yourself by how you make a living, or where you live, or what you have, or anything else for that matter. And those "simple things in life" that were all you needed to be content as a 3 year old are going to come full circle to be all you truly need once again. (P.S. This will happen when you're in your 30s, once you've had ample time to wade through all the crap.)
All you really need to do is your best. Period. Be yourself, be kind, and be present in each day (because the future never really comes; it's always today). And please, please, relax a little. The overachiever-induced anxiety will get you nowhere, I promise. Try to make the best of whatever comes your way. Because nothing is going to turn out the way you think it's going to turn out, and that is life, and you will learn that it's kind of awesome.
On a completely different note, these pictures also made me think about how much has changed (and how quickly) in terms of the way that we capture memories from our lives. I was a child of the 80's; I grew up using film cameras that forced you to be cautious when you took pictures and then practice (sometimes immense) patience while they were being developed. I clearly remember getting my first digital camera, and it honestly doesn't even feel like it was that long ago. Then came using our phones to take pictures, which changed everything as well. Looking back at these old childhood photos makes me wonder if they'd still seem as special had they been captured digitally. Something about film always feels a little more real than digital to me - a little less perfect, you know?
Lots of deep thoughts today you guys. Thank goodness it's almost the weekend. :)
FILED UNDER: random thoughts/life