Dear 18-year-old Linda,
Soon you’ll get a call from a good friend inviting you and another girl to join him on a trip to Florida. He’s going to pick up a company car to drive it back to Montreal and you’ll be invited along for the ride. All you’ll have to do is pay for your flight out. The rest will be covered by his company. Should you go? Of course! A teachers’ strike means school is on hold; all three of you are newly-minted 18-year-old friends and you’ll have a great time.
But before you go, consider this: For some reason, you’ll want to rush through each stop (St-Petersburg, Clearwater, Daytona, Orland, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, etc.) to see what awaits you at the next one. You’ll be like children unwrapping the gifts under a Christmas tree. They tear the wrapping off the first gift, give it a cursory glance, put it aside and move onto the next one. At the end, they sit with a pile of shiny new toys around them feeling let down because there’s nothing left to unwrap. Don’t do it.
Instead, take your time. Stop and spend a full day at the beach. Feel the sun and the tangy, ocean spray on your skin. Watch the waves (and in Daytona the cars) roll in. Slow down. Savour. Enjoy.
In Orlando, see Disney World through the eyes of a child. Yes, it’s crowded and touristy but it’s also magical. Stop trying to look mature – there’s plenty of time for that later – and look for the magic in the Magic Kingdom. It’s there, I promise. Do you know what will happen if you don’t? Years later your only memory of it will be the looped, tinny recording that echoes at the exit of every ride: “Step to the left please. Step to the left”.
I could give you other examples of what you’ll miss if you rush the trip, but I think you get the idea. So my advice is this: Slow down. I know there’s so much to do, people to meet, places to see, jobs to try your hand at. And it feels like you have to do it all now. But you don’t. You’ll actually miss out on some pretty great things while you’re rushing to the next one.
Now start packing your summer clothes – your friend will be calling soon with an invitation to Florida.
Written for Day One prompt of the Bloganuary challenge: What advice would you give your teenage self?