Life Lessons From My Teenage Self

Earlier this year I ran across a list that I wrote when I was 19 years old, “Top 10 goals for my life.” I remember writing it. It was late one night when I was working as a server, recently home from 6-months of Army training and in the Reserve, about to begin my first semester of college. I had everything planned out. This was going to be the job that got me through school, and then I was going to start my empire, make millions, become a philanthropist, and eventually the first woman president.

For real.

I remember telling a co-worker a toned-down version of my ambitions and that I was “only going to work here until I graduate college.” Her response caught me off guard and rattled me.

“That’s what we all said.”

Her words hung in the air and sent me into an internal panic. ‘Oh shit. I can’t stay here. I need a new plan.’ Shortly after, I wrote this list of goals to achieve in my lifetime, and quit working there. I got a job as a personal trainer at 24-hour fitness just a couple of months later.

This note to myself has been sitting on my desk for several months and its 16th anniversary seemed like a good time to take a moment to reflect on just how naïve, and wise, the girl was who wrote it.

Within the next 8-months I would love my new job and thrive as a top new trainer at 24-hr, I’d start school at Scottsdale Community College, my mom would be diagnosed with cancer, I would drop most of my classes, she would die, and I would spend the summer binge drinking until abruptly moving to Dallas Texas for a fresh start (i.e. running away from the disaster life had become).

Rough start to my new life plan.

Fast forward a decade and a half, and it is amazing to look back at all that has unfolded. My bright-eyed teenage self never in her wildest dreams could have fathomed the euphoria and kicks to the gut that life had in store.

Until recently, I would have looked at this top 10 list and thought that life had not gone even close to as planned. I didn’t build that empire or become a millionaire philanthropist, I never got on the Oprah show (which was a highly ranked ambition), and I will not likely be the first woman president. My youthful ambitions were so naïve.

However, I read this list now and appreciate the wisdom that sweet girl unknowingly carried. She set a course that has guided me on a journey that I never could have planned for, but is better than I ever could have hoped. I am happy to know that each one has come to fruition to varying degrees in recent years, and I am also hopeful that there is still a lot of life left to continue fulfilling them.

At 35 years old, my only life plan is to stick to this list of goals that a wise young girl gave to me and hope that I can make her proud.