Starting around junior high, I was a little problematic. On top of having difficulty navigating the social ups and downs of middle school, I felt (as many adolescents erringly do) misunderstood by my parents and convinced that they were trying to ruin my life. To prove my point, I was explosive, frequently screaming “You wouldn’t understand!” and “You’re ruining my life!” – followed stomping and door slams. Not my finest hour.
Since I clearly wasn’t open to my mom’s input, she smartly sought out someone that I could talk to. She found a girl at our church about five years older than me who was willing to mentor me through this tough time.
And I rejected the offer.
Oh gosh, it hurts my heart still that I did that.
Honestly, I think I was scared. The cruelty and volatility of past “friendships” had shown me that vulnerability would backfire, and who I was wasn’t good enough. I was too scared to willingly admit to someone – especially a stranger my mom found – that I didn’t have my act together and in fact had no idea what I was doing.
Oh, so sad.
In high school I joined a bible study, and this girl was one of my bible study leader’s best friends. I stayed in this bible study until I graduated, and over those four years I would occasionally cross paths with this young woman when she came home from college and visited with her friends. She was effortlessly cool, stunningly beautiful, incredibly smart, and wonderfully kind. I kicked myself for forfeiting a friendship with her, just because I was too scared to be known by someone.
She went on to do what I saw as great and glamorous things. She helped the anti-slavery nonprofit Not For Sale get off the ground, while simultaneously working as a wedding planner. Like I said, great and glamorous. I admired her for how she seemed to change the world and blaze her own trail – all with such style.
It was probably about fifteen years ago (wow!) that I turned down that gracious offer for mentorship, and since then I’ve kicked myself dozens of times for not accepting.
And then April 4, 2017 happened.
That was the day this woman that I had admired for so long published Twenty-Two.
Twenty-Two by Allison Trowbridge is a life enriching, wonderful book. While reading, I was torn between slowly soaking in her words and wanting to keep turning pages quickly to discover what came next. I had the convenient blessing of being sick shortly after it came out, and so I read it cover to cover within 48 hours of receiving my copy. Every woman ages 13-103 should read it.
In the book, real-life Allison Trowbridge writes twenty-two letters to a fictional character, Ash, through Ash’s college career. Allison accompanies Ash on the emotional roller coaster of college, offering wisdom wrapped in tears or laughter, as the situation calls for.
I laughed, I cried, and mostly, I was grateful.
Most people don’t get a do-over on their regrets.
But here I was, receiving the wisdom and mentorship I might have received all those years back had I just had the guts to say yes. Maybe the wisdom was even better now, because Allison had the chance to live a little more life and collect a few more experiences to share. True, it doesn’t help the tantrum throwing adolescent I used to be, but it could (thank heaven!) help the tantrum throwing adolescents I might have someday! And that might be an even greater gift!
I can’t help but wonder if my life would have been different if I had received her mentorship all those years back when it was first offered to me. I hope so, in part because I would hate to think that I would have received her kind and intentional words and done nothing with them. But at the same time, I feel like I’m right where God intended me to be – so maybe not? There’s really no way of knowing, and it’s probably best to not dwell on what might have been.
What I can dwell on is how grateful I am that I have her words of wisdom now! Especially in a form that I can read and reread to as needed. There are many chapters, like Chapter 15: On Perfection & Failing, that I feel like I could soak in repeatedly with continued enrichment.
She has still inspired me, even just from watching her life from the wings. Seeing that she was publishing a book is, in all honestly, one of the factors that prompted me to start writing a blog. I knew I wanted to write a book someday, and she proved it was possible! So I decided that I might as well start honing my writing skills that have been rusting since college.
True, we may not have a close relationship like we might have if I had accepted that offer so many years ago – but we are friends on Facebook, so that’s a start! And, God willing, we both have plenty of life ahead of us and we can hopefully develop a relationship over the years to come.
In the meantime, I’m thrilled to have her kind words of wisdom in book form.
If you haven’t already bought the book, I’d encourage you to do so (and maybe a few extras as graduation gifts!).
I’d also encourage you to not say no to relationships because of you’re scared of being known.
I lucked out, but whatever you say no to may not come back to you in book form 15 years later.
P.S. Allie, if you’re reading this, I’d love to treat you to coffee next time you’re in Nor Cal!
Have you ever done something that you regretted that you had a second chance at later?