For a school trip in eighth grade, each kid in my class wrote a letter to our future selves. The letters would be mailed to us at the end of our senior year. I had totally forgotten, until I received it in the spring of 2003. I wrote “Dear Nicole,” then all of the things that I hoped would happen in high school. “Do really well in school, you can do it!” was one of them. LOSER. No. Whatever that’s cool. At the time, school was a horror show because I had a multitude of undiagnosed learning disabilities. “I hope you have a really great boyfriend who loves you,” my 14-year-old self wrote to the 18-year-old girl she hoped she’d be. Looking back can be mortifying.
Apparently, not in my Grandma’s case. “I was very smart. I did well in school, except for Chemistry,” she says about her own high school experience. Chemistry was difficult for me, too. But then again, so was distinguishing my left from my right and also, everything. “I failed a chemistry test three times,” Grandma continues. “The teacher had it out for me. I got a 64. I asked him to just give me a 65 so I could pass. He said, ‘no.’ So, I called him a b*st*rd.” My Grandma is Nicki Minaj.
Lesson One: Do your best, and don’t let anyone keep you down. (But also, probably don’t curse at a teacher?)
“Did you have a boyfriend?” I ask her. “A new one every other week. I had rings galore! But I gave them all back.” Why did she accept class rings and then almost immediately give them back? “Because I didn’t love them anymore.” My Grandma is Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Lesson Two: Don’t waste people’s time, especially your own.
“I wore beautiful clothes, sexy clothes,” she says about her younger self. “Why did you wear sexy clothes?” I ask. “Because I was a sexy woman! I was thin and had a nice pair.” GET IT, GIRL! That is now my favorite thing she has ever said. “I had long hair and I braided it across the top. I wore cashmere sweaters, the hoop skirts and I wore jeans before it was popular,” she says, very matter-of-fact. Grandma continues, “I used to go shopping in the boy’s stores to buy them. People thought I was crazy.” My Grandma is Kate Moss.
Lesson Three: Who cares what other people think?
As you may recall from Part 2, my Grandma was a war widow. As a young woman, she went back to school and became a dental hygienist. As you may also recall from Part 2 that my beautiful, flaming haired Grandma liked to wear red pumps with a red bag and was jokingly referred to as “The Broadway Bum”. In 1951, she walked into a clothing store to buy a cashmere sweater. A salesgirl stopped her, “I don’t think that’s for you. Its expensive.” Grandma tells me, “She turned her nose up at me! I said, ‘Look outside, that’s my car.” It was a green Ford with green and black leather interior. Grandma continues, “I told her, ‘I paid for it myself. Don’t judge people by the way they look. You just lost a big sale.’” I can help but ask, “Then, did you come back the next day with lots of shopping bags and say, ‘Big mistake! HUGE!’” She didn’t know what I was talking about. My Grandma is Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
Lesson Four: See Pretty Woman! Don’t not get that reference.
Is it possible that as we get older, we stop cringing over the person we used to be? Hopefully, we begin to celebrate our younger selves without judgement because they lead us to all the things that we are. But why wait until later? My Grandma reminds me constantly, “Live for yourself, and be happy.” So celebrate and respect yourself in the moment, as life happens. Oh, and start thinking of yourself as a “very smart girl with a nice pair”.
Image via glamourdaze.blogspot.com