kept the flowers

Hold onto sixteen as long as you can

When you’re sixteen, everything can seem like the end of the world. Tests, acne, boyfriends, you name it. the girls in high schoolBut as I grow older and look back on those times, they seem like the easiest and best days ever. Oh, to live off my parents and only have to worry about prom dresses again.

Of course, not everyone gets to live a privileged childhood. But mine was. We certainly weren’t rich, but I had amazing parents and fantastic friends. I was happy and motivated.

I recently watched some home videos from when I was a teenager—sixteen to be exact. And I couldn’t help but feel jealous of my former self. Even though I know all the heartbreaking and challenging things that came after that, I do envy me and my friends at that age.

Because what came after that was terrifying and devastating and almost too much to handle. Life began—real life. And it sucks…we all know that.

So while I almost wish I was sixteen again, I also know that girl was so young and so naive. She knew nothing about the world or herself or who she would become. And she had a shitload of life headed right for her.

Would I go back and do it all over again? It’s tempting, but no. Whether or not I carried my current knowledge with me, I know that I’d still have to grow up and become an adult—and that’s the hardest part. We can’t hang onto our youth no matter how much we want to.

So I suppose all I can do is hang onto part of that young and excitable girl and combine her with the grown woman I have become, with all the accumulated baggage that makes me, me. And I can certainly remember all the wonderful (and embarrassing) memories that my teenage years held.

And hey, I may have to deal with adult problems, but I can stay out as late as I want and eat junk food until 3am. That’s gotta count for something.

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There are storms we cannot weather

When I was in college, my best friend’s father was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that had spread to his brain. stormIt was very advanced and there was little they could do. It was devastating. My friend was one of six children and extremely close with her father. It was simply unimaginable that this was happening.

Once weekend when I was home, I was visiting my church (more on that later). My old youth group leader asked me how my friend’s dad was doing, and I broke down as I told him. One of the things he said to comfort me has stuck with me throughout the years: “He never gives you more than you can handle.”

As soon as he said it I knew I disagreed. It was a nice thing to say and is probably a nice thing to believe. But I don’t…mostly for the reason that it’s simply not true.

People are given more than they can handle all the time—that’s why people commit suicide. That’s why they quit, run away, and break down.

This has never been more true to me than now, after I’ve been fighting a losing battle with bipolar depression for months on end. I have come to truly understand what “too much” feels like and why someone would take their own life to escape.

So though it’s not comforting, I prefer the truth found in Les Miserables’ I Dreamed a Dream:

But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I think sometimes just acknowledging the hard reality of things can be motivating in and of itself. And when it’s not…there’s always Glee.

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Music is my boyfriend

I have a very distinct memory of being in my best friend’s bedroom when wmusice were teenagers. We were just hanging out, listening to music, and giggling. Typical teen stuff.

Then my annoying neighborhood arch enemy intruded—moody and brooding as usual. I don’t know what he wanted, but he ended up chastising us for, well, being teenage girls. Apparently hanging out and listening to music meant we didn’t know there was a real world outside, with real problems…that there was more to life than what we were doing.

I remember being struck by the strangeness of his words then, and even still today. Because now I certainly have seen the real world and experienced some terrible things. No, you can’t just live in a cocoon and hang out with your best friend and listen to music your entire life…unfortunately.

But funny enough, just the other night, my husband and our friend and I spent an entire night listening to music and laughing. (Mostly spurred by our friend critiquing my music library.) It was one of those nights where staying up super late wasn’t planned…it just kinda happened because time flies when you’re ignoring the real world.

So you know what? Give me nights of listening to music, hanging out, and giggling. Give me plenty of them. And certainly give me that over the real world any time.

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