A love letter to my younger self:

Life Lessons from the trenches

1979 High School Graduation Pic

Dear younger version of me,

Even though your Mom refers to you as ‘dumb’, you are anything but.
She doesn’t mean it…it’s just something she says. Don’t wear 
that label like an albatross.

Be confident in your intellect. Don’t let other people’s words and limited perceptions of you penetrate who you are.
When your high school guidance counselor tells you that you aren’t ‘college 
material
,’ don’t believe it. He was probably trying out some sort of reverse
psychology. If not, he really just sucked at his job or was perhaps just plain mean. That said, I won’t lie to you. It is going to take a very LOONNNGGGG time, but you WILL attend college and eventually complete both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees. How’s that for not being ‘college material?!’

Get ready. You are going to see the world and your work is going to send you there — -FOR FREE.
You’ll go the middle east, travel to Japan, England, Germany, Canada, and many other places throughout the U.S. Some you’ll visit briefly and others you’ll stay longer. Soak in those great experiences and enjoy the ride.

In the love department, I have some bad news. It will NOT be all
“sunshine and roses.”

You will be severely tested and likewise severely rewarded. The time between those two extremes will be long. You will sometimes feel as if you are being 
punished for something. You will feel unlovable, ugly, and uninteresting at times. A male acquaintance from work will confirm those feelings one day when he comments that he can see “why your boyfriend left you because you don’t have anything to offer and, well, you just aren’t all that interesting.” That cruel comment will cut deeply and turns out he was wrong. That boyfriend he refers to turns out to be a very important part of your life which happens much later. Stay tuned.

Expect more of yourself and for yourself.
One day, you are going to find yourself in the wrong story. Leave. Don’t wait. Rip off the bandaid and start over. I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy
break; however, in the long run, it’s what you need to do. It will be difficult,
scary, and financially devastating. In the long run you will be okay. 
In fact, you will be better than okay.

When your mother tells you she doesn’t think you’ll ever have children
because you’re too “focused on your career”…again, remember that she grew up in a time when women had to choose one or the other and could not conceive of having both a career AND a family.

You are going to wait a long time to be a mother and it won’t happen in the traditional way, but the wait will be SO worth it. You will have just one child and she is going to be amazing! You’ll see yourself in her and that will sometimes be confusing and frustrating. You’ll also see characteristics that you wish you’d had when you were her age and this will likewise make you burst with pride. She will challenge you. She will teach you how to become truly unselfish and grow into a better person. Enjoy every moment you have with her because she will grow up too soon and you’ll wish you could go back and do it all over again.

As far as your career goes, you will start out at the bottom and work
your way up somewhat like the movie “
Working Girl” …except for the sleeping with the boss part.
Along the way you are going to encounter challenges from people in power positions, some of whom will try to prevent you from getting ahead, and discourage you from even trying. At the same time, there will be good people who will encourage you to keep going. When it’s time to apply for an internal technical internship program, a male mentor senior to you will 
 tell you that you “aren’t cut out for the intern program” because you aren’t 
technical enough.” He will cite your lack of a completed college degree at that time as his evidence. He’ll tell you that the program is only “meant for people with 4-year technical degrees” and that you couldn’t possibly qualify. One of your peers will publicly make negative statements about how letting a ‘former secretary’ into the intern program denigrates its overall status . Ignore all that BS! You’re going to not only get into that intern program, you’ll receive written recommendations from board members and graduate with honors.

Be careful about your personal safety. 
One day you’ll go to dinner with a former coworker who is a father-like figure. He will visit you while on business to your town and invite you to dinner. After dinner, he’ll invite himself over to talk. You won’t think anything 
of it because you know his wife, you were former coworkers and even former neighbors. You feel safe because you believe he thinks of you as a surrogate daughter. He’s going to take advantage of that trust and you’ll suddenly find yourself in a very vulnerable position where you will have to fight him off. Although it’s terrifying, you will fight back and convince him to leave. You two will never speak again. This will be an unfortunate but valuable life lesson.

People will disappoint you many times over your lifetime.
You trust people too much. This fact will result in a repeated theme of heartache and disappointment for you. You will blame yourself for trusting too much and too quickly. Don’t change. It’s not a fault in your personality causing this to occur. Learn to forgive good people who do bad things when you can and its appropriate, but don’t give them a chance to re-offend. Remember that perfection and people are oxymorons.

Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT take your sister’s advice regarding men….EVER.
She has her own challenges in that department. One day your sister will introduce you to someone she says she’s “dying for you to meet.” He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing at a time in your life when you are most vulnerable and on the rebound. This man will chase you hard and relentlessly. It will be easy to convince yourself to settle even though in your heart you know he’s not right for you. The lying with this man will begin early and you will be completely blind to it. The relationship will go on too long and it will not be good….for either of you. You will lose everything you worked hard to acquire in life due to his drug and alcohol addiction. In the end, he’ll even threaten your life. Again, you won’t see that coming either. You will survive and do what is necessary to protect yourself and your daughter from harm. Luckily for you, he underestimates you and this will work to your advantage. Your family will reach out and lift you up during this time. In the end, your sister and mother, the domestic abuse laws and your job will provide the safety net you need to get out of this situation safely and securely. It’s going to be okay.

One day you’re going to meet a man that you’ll instantly know is your person.
You will be instantly attracted. You’ll have a relatively brief relationship and 
won’t ever get over him. He’s going to break your heart when he leaves. You will have a premonition telling you that you will be together someday but not until you’re both old and gray. That premonition will come true. You will reunite much later in life when both of you have gray hair, fall madly in love once again, and get married. Even better news…your daughter will finally get the father figure shem always wanted and needed. This time, you WILL get your man and finally get that severe reward you deserved from the start.

Your story has a happy ending!

Thank YOU for taking the time to read my very first publicly written article on Medium! If you enjoyed this article, please click ‘❤’….that would make my day!

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