In a few short weeks, I will be flying to Boston, MA for my 5-year college reunion. As I take stock of where I've been and what I have become, I can't help but notice the differences between 2004 Gabi and 2009 Gabi...I have learned a lot in my first 5 years of real-world living, and it makes me wish that I could somehow go back in time to share these lessons with the 22-year-old I once was. If I could somehow get my hands on the DeLorean and talk to that clueless college graduate, I would make her put down the celebratory gin and tonic (with extra lime) and share with her the following pearls of wisdom that I've gained in the past half-decade:
1. You are not a direct route kind of girl. Whether you're driving, cooking, making up your mind, or solving a problem, you tend not to take the direct route--and that's OK. You always get there eventually...though it will serve you well to pay attention to the signs because they make the process that much easier.
2. It is very possible for two people to love and respect each other very much, and still be completely wrong for each other and therefore happier apart. Fighting this is not helpful to anyone.
3. Nobody liked junior high. You weren't the only one. Also, high school wasn't as bad as you remember it to be, and a few of the people you shared it with will surprise you as they become some of the most important people in your life.
4. Always call Dad for driving directions. If you call Mom, you will end up in the sketchiest possible part of Oakland, regardless of where you were heading.
5. You are a California girl.
6. Do not underestimate your little brother. He will come to be your best friend and confidant and will give you the best man advice of anyone you know.
7. Do what you love. Even if you make no money doing it, keep doing it because the money will follow.
8. Your alcohol tolerance will begin a steady decline, pretty much from the moment you are handed your diploma. This means that you cannot party like you are 19 anymore. So don't. Because if you do, the price to pay is MUCH steeper. A greasy breakfast and 4 cups of coffee will no longer be a surefire cure. You will hurt all day. Drink a lot of water and limit yourself at the bar.
9. Traditional chivalry, though not your style, is sometimes necessary in dating. It helps you and your companion to be on the same page so that things don't get awkward. Letting him pay need not challenge your sense of equality.
10. When things get tough, remember Panta's words, "this too shall pass," for there are very few problems that do not get better over time.