I watch a younger version of myself doing a ridiculous Irish jig, wearing a velvet emerald green party dress, white stockings and lace up Converse sneakers.
The video camera shakes but steadies itself as a I circle round and round the house, creating my very own (and first ever) one person Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Complete with: Irish step dancers, street vendors, little men on bicycles and convicts from the state prison (don’t ask where my morbid little eight-year-old mind stirred that one up from).
I find myself pausing the video. Pausing the little girl in the green party dress and stopping her mid fake Irish prance. I find myself wanting to shake her, wanting to talk to her, wanting to fill her little ears with advice that I know she is going to need and want and remember….
Keep dancing little one, be as happy and carefree for as long as you possibly can. Always bask in the opportunity to shake your hips or throw your arms up in the air. Life is going to try to get serious on you, but don’t you let it. I want you to know now that even the big stuff and the tough stuff will be very small in the grand scheme of things. Popularity will seem like the most important concept to ever enter into your orbit in a few years, but it’s not. Be an individual and be true to yourself. Don’t let a set of bullies define how you look at yourself. Don’t be a bully and try to limit how others perceive their own selves.
Work, one day, will try to consume you but resist it. Work hard, be driven, but don’t forget how to play. Find a job that makes you smile. Don’t settle for a paycheck. You are in your days of playing house right now, keep doing just that, even as you grow up. Do what you find to be fun and meaningful.
Don’t jump at opportunities to deem you the title of “grown up” too fast. Enjoy childhood, the fact that you don’t have a car that needs gas or a cell phone that leaves you crying over a monthly texting bill. Delight in your current investments and transactions: a snow cone from the ice cream man, those new pencils from the school store, that brand new pair of plastic heels.
Be bold. Stand out. Value the word: individual. Never forget your manners. Hold the door open for strangers. No matter how many times you have heard it before little girl, thank you will always be the magic word. Be good to your parents; they nag you for your own good. Always use your words: say “I love you” and “I miss you” and “I cherish you.” Don’t miss the chances to say how you feel, life will be defined in those moments.
Find friends. Good friends. Friends that make you more than you are. And hold tight to them. When you see them in the lunch line, give their hand a squeeze. Share your stickers with them. Stick up for them if they are pushed around. It’s normal to pick and choose your friends like you would the colors out of a crayon box. But instead of colors, like Macaroni and Cheese and Tickle Me Pink, look for these qualities: loyal, compassionate, understanding and kind. Keep those gems around. You will need them when you fall. You will need them when your heart breaks for the first time.
And a broken heart, my child, is not something you should ever try to run away from. Of course you want to find a love that matches up to all your fairy tale dreams but go out on a limb and put your heart out there. It is the only way to ever know. Find someone, when the time is right, who will not define you, but will allow you to be good on your own but better with them added. Find someone who respects your dreams and does not accept your giving up on them. Find someone who you can talk to for hours, who will listen to you. Find that person and then find the ways in which to never let them go. If it means fighting for them, then fight.
And little one, do me a favor.. All those dreams you have stored tight in your heart next to Christmas lists and make believe games, keep those. Don’t let anyone belittle or degrade them. Never accept that that they cannot be realities. People will try to tell you that they are impossible, improbable, irrational. Let them tell you, but don’t… don’t…. don’t ever listen. Because if you let go of those dreams little girl, then who is to say that someone won’t snatch them up and live them instead? Hold tight to your destiny. Little girl, hold tight.
Remember though, before I press “play” and let you to continue to dance and dream, that it will give you no advantage to try and analyze and understand this life. Here is the big secret: It makes no sense. At least no sense that we will ever be able to conjure up in this lifetime. Follow your heart. Cry when you feel the tears coming. Let go when you can no longer hold on but hold tight when it means something to you. Kiss with passion. Give things away, parts of yourself, with no expectation of ever getting them back. Fall but get back up. Ask for help. Learn from others. Be kind to all. Let life be simple. As Simple As That.