Disney World circa 1994
To the High School Me:
You certainly have the world in your grasp, even though you don't have much desire to go to college... you will be glad you did when you look back and realize that very few of your friends from high school have a degree to fall back on. Your friends today will be a distant memory for the most part in a few years... only a handful will still be in contact with you in your 30's and it's not the end of the world. Somewhere in your early/mid 20's you will find out that your parents weren't quite as dumb as you thought they were - some of the things they said were correct, and you will be grateful for a grounded upbringing instead of the lavish lifestyles of some of your former friends. Your more grounded values will help you accomplish many things that others won't... it will also give you a good foundation to build on when times are tough.
Spend more time writing and reading - they will always be your passions... and when you have toddlers at home one day - time for these hobbies will be a premium. Try to keep some of the whimsy and fun of your youth in your heart with you always... don't always be so serious/intense. Don't worry so much about what others think - because this may take over your thoughts in your 30's.
Above all else, follow your dreams. Know that every twist and turn in your life over the next 20 years or so will shape you into the person that you were meant to be. Some of these life experiences will be HARD, but stick with it... the journey is worth it!
College circa 1998
To the College Me:
These truly are some of the greatest years for so many reasons - take advantage more! Not everyone has the blessing of going to college and not having to work... a free ride to study and do whatever you want to do is an amazing gift. Buckle down a bit more on the studies and stick with your original degree plan - you will spend a lot of time unsuccessfully trying to get back to that plan over the years to come.
Guard your heart a bit more, you can't rescue or save everyone - you can give assistance as needed, but don't let it bring you down or effect your everyday life. Make your own choices based on what YOU want - not based on anyone else: for instance, that high school sweetheart you moved home for - will call you that very day to tell you he got someone else pregnant. It works out for the best, but don't base your big life decisions on anyone else at this point... that comes with marriage and family. Dating someone 10+ years older than you at this stage of your life is a MISTAKE... especially the man you end up dating - alcoholism and abuse will follow in this case, and will take you quite some time to overcome.
Embrace the new found relationships with family that you haven't always been close to... they are amazing people that will be your support system through some incredible journeys. Enjoy the victories and triumphs that come from stepping completely out of your comfort zone - these will be some of the projects and events you will be incredibly proud of for your whole life. Some of the best things come from taking a leap of faith...
Your life might not look like you expected it to on your 30th birthday... but in spite of the pain you feel in those days... some INCREDIBLE things are on the horizon before you turn 32! Faithfulness and prayer will get you through it, and the journal you keep during some of those incredibly dark days will be a treasured keepsake looking back.
In terms of career, just realize that money isn't everything - smaller and happier is much more important. Don't leave a job that you are comfortable in just for money - because it will lead to two very draining and abusive jobs... stay where you are happy and able to do a variety of things for people that are even tempered and family oriented.
Hang in there, because it will for sure be a bumpy ride... but every moment is well worth the trouble!