A Life Without Pictures by Victoria M. Johnson

“Here is the question: If you could talk to your 16-year-old self, what would you say?  What advice, warnings, or encouragement would you give your younger self?”

A Life Without Pictures by Victoria M. JohnsonMe At Sixteen—A Life Without Pictures

Have your yearbook photo taken.  Even if you can’t afford to buy any for yourself at least it’ll be in the yearbook and there’ll be one snapshot of you in high school.

You know how you hate your uncommon Mexican last name because no one else has it; and you long for an ordinary last name like Rodriguez, Chavez, or Lopez?  Well, guess what?  In a few years you will love your last name for this same reason—because it is rare.  Eventually, you’ll love it because it is who you are.

Don’t worry so much about boys; you’ll end up marrying the man of your dreams.  However, that boy you had a crush on (and never told) will die in a car crash before his 18th birthday—you’ll wish you’d told him.  Maybe, just maybe, your revelation would have delayed him a few hours, or five minutes, or even ten seconds.

It’s one year after your quinceañera and you spend much of your time in activities that aren’t photo-worthy.  You want to be a writer but you think you have nothing to write about.  You will suffer from this self-imposed writer’s block for many years until a creative explosion inside you unleashes a torrent of words and ideas that will keep you up at night.

Your favorite Beatle, George Harrison, will marry a Latina!

Your love of Santana music will never waver; it is in your bones, just as much as mariachi music and The Star Spangled Banner are.

Your interest in Drama, French, and Science will stay with you forever.  Unfortunately, you’ll have to learn math and English the hard way.  In college, many years later, you’ll wish you had never cut these classes in high school.

Sports will always be a part of your life.  Spending three nights a week and Saturday mornings in the tae kwon do studio teaches you lifelong discipline, and so much more.  You’ll exchange martial arts and the field hockey, volleyball, and track for jogging and zumba.  You’ll learn how to swim.

You believe yourself to be strong and in many ways you are.  But you could stand to worry less about what others think about you, to speak up more, and to give your opinion instead of holding it inside.  You’ll learn to open up and this attribute changes everything.

There are a wide variety of college majors—like filmmaking and creative writing!  If only you hadn’t cut school so much you could’ve found out sooner.

I know San Jose is a city you can’t wait to leave.  You fight against being stuck in a rut here.  You resolve to break free, to expand your possibilities.  You can’t wait to turn 17 so you can join the Air Force.  You’ll join when you’re 19 so don’t be in such a hurry.  You’ll meet your future husband, father of your children, and you’ll travel the world together.  (You’ll even adore your in-laws, I swear). And, in time, you’ll think fondly of San Jose.  Crazy, isn’t it?

Here’s something crazier: millions of people will be Star Trek fans.  You won’t have to be embarrassed to admit you’re one, too.

Believe it or not you’ll give birth to two great kids.  A girl and a boy and at least one of them will give you the pleasure of being a grandparent.

You will be asked to, and will attend, a big dance with the high school quarterback, the captain of the football team!  No, not any of those cute jocks you went to school with who never knew you existed.  Your date is someone much more special—your son!

Though your mom will live to age 92, you’ll be devastated when she leaves this earth.  Spend more time with her, before the Alzheimer’s takes her memory.  You’ll spend plenty of time with her after.

You’ll stumble upon a fundraising career.  You’ll greatly enjoy your years in this profession helping nonprofits earn money for worthy causes.

Taking the extra long road, you will become a published author and even a filmmaker.  How cool is that?

It’s true; you only have two pictures of yourself as a child, and none of your adolescent or teen years.  But I assure you; you will have a lifetime of photos, of happy memories.  There’s a thing called scrapbooking—and you will never be caught up—because you are so busy living a full life.

Sure, you’ll make mistakes, use bad judgment, and focus on the wrong priorities.  That’s a part of growing up.  You’ll face challenges, setbacks, and disappointments.  That’s life.  You’ll have your heart broken.  Numerous times.  Know that everything works out the way it’s supposed to.  You’ll be blessed with a loving family of your own, extraordinary friends, and lots of adventure.  And, you’ll learn to trust your writing, each piece a candid photograph of your soul.  Each piece a snapshot of a moment captured in words.

_________________________________________________© 2012 Victoria M. Johnson

This post concludes the special guest blog series. My deepest appreciation goes to all the phenomenal women who participated.  Click on a name below to read each writer’s frank and enlightening words of wisdom—and feel free to post a comment for the author.

Neringa Bryant, Lucille Lang Day, Elizabeth Eslami, Thaïsa Frank, Erica Goss, Parthenia M. Hicks, Lita A. Kurth, Signe Pike, Harrison Solow