I remember feeling kind of like a failure when I graduated from college. All five of my siblings married someone that they went to college with, and my last dating relationship had recently ended. I had my bachelor’s degree, but my wife was nowhere to be found. Many of my good friends got married within the first year or two after graduation, and I felt like I was destined to either be single forever or eventually just settle for some less-than-exciting relationship.
But there were definitely things I could have done better.
I procrastinated worse than I ever have — pulling all-nighters at some points and sleeping in class the next day because I was so tired. I didn’t get off my campus as much as I wanted to and explore my new city (Boston), mainly because I was too lazy or stuck inside with homework. One of the biggest disappointments for me last semester was that I only went to adoration twice.
Countless times over the years, I’ve thought to myself, “If only I could go back and do things differently.” And that’s why nearly two decades later, I’m writing this letter to my twenty-something self: not because I can undo past mistakes, but because right now there is a young twenty-something man facing his own unplanned pregnancy (or could in the near future) longing for someone to give him solid, strong, Godly advice. If that’s you, it’s my hope that this letter will help you.
Afterall, I was born in the 80’s. That pretty much makes me ancient. (I was around the first time slap bracelets were a thing.) And as an ancient, blog-writing, birthday girl, my gift to you is 25 pieces of advice that I’ve learned in my 25 years.
“I can’t go to Confession! I don’t know how to start! I don’t know my Act of Contrition!” If you blank on how to go to Confession, just let the priest know. He is there as a representative of God’s love and patience. Plus, he went to school for this. Even if you don’t know how it’s supposed to go, he can walk you through it.
But no matter what your high school experience was like, one thing is certain . . . things are about to change!
Starting college is kind of a big deal.
For most people, it means a new house, a new city, new friends, and new challenges. Hopefully while you were in high school you learned everything you could possibly need to know to begin your new adventure, but if you're like me and you didn't, here's a list of pointers to help you out.
Maybe you haven't said one of these things exactly, but I’m sure you know what it feels like to have a bad day. Today my sister Maureen was telling me about her bad day and after I gave her my heartfelt and wise advice she said, 'You're really in the ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏjust deal with it' mode this week, huh?'
So you've met a guy. What do you do next? Act interested? But you don't want to come on too strong. Ignore him? But then he won't know you're alive. Knock him to the ground? No, that only works in first grade. Though I've landed quite a catch now (shout out to my wonderful husband, Brian!), I remember it all too well . . . trying to get the attention of a guy you're interested in without making a fool of yourself.
Ah, flirting. That ancient art of trying to get the attention of someone you're attracted to while trying to prevent oneself from looking like a complete tool. I'll never forget my friend from kindergarten who thought he would win a girl's heart by putting all of his toy cars in envelopes and giving them to her each morning as gifts. By third grade we had matured and moved on to advanced techniques like ignoring or teasing the girls that we liked.
There are two kinds of people in this world, the people who struggle with body image and the people who lie about it.
But, yes, I am getting older, and with that age has come a realization of things I took for granted when I was in high school.
As an adult, and even more as a parent of a little boy who is just over a year old, I have come to appreciate all that my parents went through. So, as we sit in between Mother's Day and Father's Day, here's a list of a few things you may not recognize that your parents have done for you:
Everywhere you look, there’s an ad, magazine cover, or commercial telling you what the new hotness is in diet secrets and workouts. It can be confusing and honestly . . . how do you know what to believe? Don’t let the smiling, skinny people in the ads convince you; you need someone you can trust. That’s why I asked Dr. John Oertle some questions about diets, weight loss, and how you as a teen should approach your health. He’s an awesome, Catholic doctor who’s passionate about sharing the truth about the wonderful body God gave each of us. Enjoy!
It's fair to say that my driving is always an adventure full of surprises, disappointments, and apologies to my passengers.
Whether you're directionally challenged like me or not, life is pretty tough to navigate. Everyone has moments where we are unsure of who we are, where we're headed, and if there is a voice that we can trust to get us there. Even prayer can be frustrating as we go through different periods where God may seem close or distant, loud or silent.
Figuring out what to do in the future is one of the things that most young people struggle to figure out. Now that you know your identity, you can remind yourself that God, indeed, has a purpose for you. You were created for a reason, and figuring that reason out will be one of the most exciting things you ever do.
Well, a lot has happened in those 15 years, and as I prepare to turn the ripe old age of 33 (my Jesus year), I've been reflecting on a lot of hard lessons I've learned along the way. If only there had been older adults giving me advice during my high school years, perhaps I could have been saved from a lot of heartache and bad decisions.
So in an attempt to redeem myself (because apparently 'Just deal with it' doesn't cut it) here are some of the ways I've learned I can change my bad day into a day in which I feel blessed.
Sitting in the college dorm my sophomore year, I heard the words I never thought I would hear: 'I'm Pregnant.' Tears started falling down Jessica's cheeks as she told me the news.
Be yourself. So many people think that holiness is unattainable, and that to pray we need to look like a statue of St. Francis with our hands folded piously. The reality is that we were created to be in communion with God, and He desires to be in a relationship with us. He doesn't want you to be a carbon copy of a past saint. He created you with your own gifts and passions, and wants to shine through you uniquely in them. Come to him as you are and let Him transform you into the saint He wants you to be!
Vacation. A time to get away and relax on a beach somewhere . . . A time to be with family and reminisce about old memories while making new ones . . . A time to hang out with friends, walking up and down Main Street and eating pizza and ice cream til sundown.
When a man sees a woman whom he thinks is sexy, he's looking at her with one thing in mind: sex. This might be great if every man walking around had a beautiful vision of sex as “a glorious thing created by God to be an act of selfless love, a gift of oneself created for marriage to be an icon and foretaste of the joys of the marriage of Christ and the Church in Heaven!”