A year ago this month, I did one of the most courageous things I have ever done in my life– I underwent an eye surgery that is likely to someday replace LASIK. It was in FDA trials, and doctors were collecting participant data from patients to eventually submit it for government approval.  In other words, I submitted myself as a guinea pig, putting my eyesight on the line. (It worked well, and I highly recommend it, btw.)

As the anniversary approaches, I want to turn back time and tell my younger self some things.

Dear younger me,

[A year ago]… I am so proud of you! This was a big risk, and you usually avoid those. Experimental surgery and accepting a new job before you even finished all the eye drops that were part of the protocol were both huge leaps of faith! You have more courage than you tend to allow yourself to use, but you don’t have to save it like money in a bank.  Look at what great things happened by stepping away from everything being completely careful and intricately planned. Don’t be afraid to try.

[The year I was involuntarily transferred]…Not only will you survive this, you’re not going to believe all the blessings that will someday grow out of the heavily-fertilized mess that is currently your life.   Trust me.  Your mind will be blown! Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You can do this.  There is another side to this story, and it turns into a fairy tale.

[The year I miscarried much-wanted babies both the first and last weeks of school]… That sucks.  Not gonna lie. No, that pregnant 8th grader across the hall wasn’t fair, nor were those ‘oopsies’ the staff kept churning out that year. As for skipping all the baby showers and sending cash, you did the right thing. I know you felt like a heel, but sometimes we have to take care of ourselves, and I am proud of you for doing it for once.   You should know–  there is an amazing boy coming eventually, but you may want to start getting accustomed to the fact that he operates on his own timeframe.

[My first year teaching]… You won’t be this sick every year.  Yes, they will always, always refer to last year and expect you to know what they mean,  even if you weren’t on staff. Those years working in preschool taught you more than you think— trust yourself. Middle school and preschool have a surprising amount in common!  You’re really going to love this life! Kids are hilarious. They’re awesome and impressive in ways that blow your mind.  They will bring you to tears of both frustration and joy– sometimes in the same day. You’ll get to be creative. You’ll get to show your passion. You’ll get to change lives. Starting in November each year, be sure you have cookie dough in the freezer.  Two of the most beautiful words that can be used together are ‘snow’ and ‘day’. Cookies with your kids will make them even better. Smile, sweetheart.  The joy is in the journey, and you’re just starting.

[In college]… Way to go on the scholarship! You will never pay a student loan and will never know how much to appreciate that. Your friends will tell you, and you won’t understand.  There are some things in life about which ignorance really is bliss!

[Younger]…You realize you have probably given heart palpitations to the poor little old ladies who work the desk at the library, don’t you?  You’re 12, and you just checked out a full backpack’s worth of trashy Harlequins. I’m sorry you were born before there were so many books geared for people your age.  That said, read all the books you want!  My wish for you is that you’ll find your voice someday and write one too. I’m still waiting to see it.

Inspired by “Dear Younger Me” by Mercy Me and “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros.