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What I Wanted to Read & What I Needed to Hear

There are times when I feel my creative energy is quite low and in moments like that, it is nearly impossible to think about writing a blog for The Smile Project. In hours or days or even weeks like this, I find myself searching for my lightbulb moment as I go about the mundane chores of daily life. And in one of these moments, moving from room to room in my apartment, I was reminded of this piece of advice: Write what you want to read.


And then I was immediately gobsmacked thinking of a second piece of advice I’ve oft heard: Be who you needed when you were younger. And it is with these two adages bumping against each other in my brain that I think of something I haven’t thought of before.


Write what you needed to hear when you were younger.


At 10-years-old, I wish someone had told me that it wasn’t cool to wear jeans lower than my white Hanes underwear because that’s what my boy friends were doing to show off their boxers. Actually, at 28-years-old now, I wish I had listened to the well-meaning friend who tried to tell me.


At 15-years-old, I wish someone had told me that nobody noticed if my shoes squeaked or my desk chair creaked or my voice sounded weird during attendance. Actually, at 28-years-old now, I realize that everyone’s listening to their own shoes and chairs and “heres!” to worry about mine.


At 20-years-old, I wish someone had told me about the kind of love we deserve and the kind of love we don’t. Actually, at 28-years-old now, I wish this lesson on respect was taught much younger and that we were reminded of it each year and in each moment when it slipped our minds.


At 25-years-old, I wish someone had told me that it’s okay to set professional boundaries and say no without feeling like you were letting someone down or missing an opportunity. Actually, at 28-years-old now, I realize there is power in the way saying no to one thing sets us up to say yes to something even better.


I wish someone had told me sooner that there’s no such thing as “out of my league” and that if I like them I should go for it. Wish someone had told me sooner that it’s brave to ask for help. That deeply caring about people and the world was cool. That if it’s not a “hell yes” it’s a no. That sunrises are beautiful even when you aren’t on a special, paradise vacation. That tea is meant to be sipped slowly and that things will be okay if you slow down a bit.


And at the same time… I’m grateful for embarrassing elementary school memories or funny stories from high school that make me laugh until I cry. I’m grateful for the less-than-ideal situations that made me who I am and for the late nights and stressful moments that taught me about myself and what I want for my future.


Sure, it might be nice to learn some lessons sooner. But I’m grateful I learned them in my own time, in my own way, when I was ready and open to hear the wisdom they were imparting to me.