It’s pretty surreal to know that I’m going to be spending my birthday in quarantine this year. I had it all planned out – I would work the baseball game on the 17th (my actual birthday) and then G and I were going to meet my family at the Four Seasons and have a relaxing boozy-brunch-birthday. Well, look how that turned out!
There’s a lot I would’ve told myself at the beginning of this year if I had hindsight, and I’m sure many of you are in the same boat. When I look back to turning fourteen and being in highschool, it seems fifty decades ago. I got to thinking about Freshman Hannah and what she would think of me, where I’m at right now. It’s interesting how much can happen over a decade…like a lot of stuff and, oddly enough, none of it goes according to that little doodle-plan that I mapped out for myself.
I’m so glad I didn’t grow up with the social media we have today: I had MySpace, so social media was on the up-and-up but there weren’t endless platforms for highschoolers to share their cruel and hurtful thoughts. I love social media and it takes up about 70% of my job so I have a lot to thank it for, but kids. are. mean. It genuinely scares me to know I’m going to bring children into this world that will undoubtedly be attacked at some point in their lives by a coward behind a screen. The brunt end of social media hit me when I left highschool to go to college and if I hadn’t had the support system I did, the outcome would’ve been very different.
The size of your friend group doesn’t equal the quality: Man! I tried so hard to be one of the popular kids in highschool. I was a dork at fourteen and people let me know it. I was always on a mission to be liked and to stand out and looking back at that, it was completely pointless. I don’t talk to a single person that I went to highschool with. I built beautiful and wonderful friendships in college and postgrad that are going to last a lifetime and that surpasses dating the quarterback or having the best clique in the lunchroom.
I am an INTROVERT: Growing up with outgoing and well-liked siblings was difficult at times. For some reason, I never clicked with people the way they did. I found out in college that I have chronic anxiety and am OCD and if I had known that at the ripe age of fourteen, my life projection could’ve been so different. I was always drained and struggling and couldn’t ever explain it. I love that I know my enneagram, Myers-Brigg and health stats to keep me on a solid path. It also helps that when I have kids or am married, I’ll be able to be a safe place for them to go to when they’re unsure of what’s going on in their moods.
Blood isn’t thicker than Water: This one hit different. At fourteen, I felt that all hope had been lost in my familial life and there was no bright side. After a decade of prayer and thousands of dollars on therapy, I’ve learned you find your family in where you feel the most supported. I have an incredible pool of friends who’ve scraped me off the floor when all hope is lost and celebrated the promotions, graduations and little events – and that feels really good.
Forgive yourself: As a perfectionist and someone unable to forget the pages of the past, I really struggled with this. At fourteen, there’s so much you don’t know and so many minuscule things you’re battling with like confidence, trust and honesty. At twenty-four, it’s pretty clear to see where things could’ve gone differently. I’m still making mistakes but now I know that the mistakes of a child don’t define who I am as an adult.
So, bebe 14-year-old Han, be true to you and life will be incredible. Oh, and don’t give yourself side bangs…like ever again.