They say with age comes wisdom; what they don’t say is that you’ll probably gain said wisdom by screwing up, a lot. Life, for the most part has been good to me. The lessons I have learned along the way have shaped me into the beautiful, understanding, belligerent, compassionate and strong woman I am today. I do have some regrets, big ones actually. I’ve faced life head-on in every circumstance. I try not to over think things, but I end up being led by my emotions and doing just that. In doing so I tend to ride in “Don Quixote” style and mess things up for myself pretty good! Some of the biggest flubs in my life have taught me invaluable lessons, and some just hurt, but they all helped to build my character. I am fully aware that I can’t go back in time, but theoretically speaking, if I could, I’d send myself a bit of advice.
First just let me say, I love you. You are an amazing person, don’t let the opinions of others make you feel like a failure in life. However, let’s discuss that mushroom haircut the “Dorothy Hamill” you started getting at age 8…stop. Just don’t do it, for Heaven’s sake, Lori. Also, stop trying to dress in “office” attire when mom lets you do the grocery shopping. No one believes a 10 year old actually works in an office, and before you argue your points, let me just say, no, the Payless pumps don’t make it more legit. You’ll do great in elementary school, but the boys will taunt you and make you feel like crud, don’t worry, most of these boys end up professing their love for you when you’re older. But just so you aren’t caught off guard, the song goes like this: “Lori Cooper, the party pooper, the super duper doody scooper.” You’ll cry every time they sing it, but when you’re older you’ll sing it to everyone you know because hell, it’s funny in retrospect! You’ll spend most of your childhood days and nights at the skating rink, keep that shit up. It definitely kept you out of trouble until you got older. Rusty will be your first kiss, he will teach you things you shouldn’t know at that age, and you’ll always have a soft spot for him, trust me, you cried buckets when he was laid to rest in 2014. You and your sister will despise each other growing up, you will physically assault each other, and fight over mutual crushes. But when you are both grown, she becomes your best friend, mentor, coach, and a true inspiration. You’ll never share a more dynamic bond with anyone. You’ll meet your first love at 16, his name is Jerry. Resist his baby face, blue eyes, and charm; he is a dog and will cheat on you for not sleeping with him. I’m not even going to lie, Lori…It’ll feel like you got punched in the chest by the incredible hulk. You will try to fight one of your childhood friends in middle school. You end up looking like a fool when she finally stands up for herself, don’t be that girl…you impressed exactly zero people that day. High school is not as bad as you make it sound. Just keep your head down, do your homework and stick with band, you are extremely intelligent but fail to see it. Oh, and taking honors physics while you’re only in pre-algebra 1 isn’t a wise choice, you’ll get a C. Seek out tutors, do extra-credit projects, and study. Your parents won’t be much help when it comes to school, since they’re never around, so make friends who are smart and do as they do. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The cool kids for the most part have turned out to be losers, so don’t seek their approval, you definitely don’t need it now. By 18, you’ve moved out, have 2 jobs and are running yourself into the ground. Stay home, go to college, rush a sorority. Trust me, not doing so has been a huge regret in life. When a line cook at Applebees says “nice ass,” don’t respond. You will end up a divorced, single mom. There are other fish in the sea, plus, he’s more of an eel anyway. When you find yourself pregnant, don’t be afraid of your parent’s reaction. Face it like a woman, and don’t feel pressured to marry the idiot, your Dad will tell you later that they would’ve supported you if you chose to go it alone. You really only married the guy so your parents wouldn’t be shamed, but you end up with a nightmare, so just have the baby without him. Lastly, when you find yourself all alone, thinking that you are incapable of love or being loved, know that you are wrong. You meet a guy when you are 31. He will break every wall you’ve ever constructed by simply existing. He will show you what it feels like to be cared for, respected, desired, safe, and everything else you’ve never truly experienced. You two are at very different places in your life, so things don’t work the way you want them to, and it will hurt like hell…but I guarantee you, you will be fully capable of loving the right person when he does come along. Never settle, never give up, never think you aren’t good enough, eat the cake, dance in the rain, and love who you are, because who you are is loved by the people that matter most.
Your future self