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If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Reflections after attending a high school reunion

By Pamela Zitron

(This article previously appeared on New Age Aging.)

Until a few weeks ago, it had been quite a while since I thought, “Boy, if I knew then what I know now!” It happened at my 50th-year high school reunion in the beginning of August.

Reunions can be benchmarks of growth in one’s life. Wouldn’t you agree? If you have gone to a reunion of any sort, haven’t you walked away thinking, “Wow, I never would have thought that about that person/circumstance/situation.”

I am very proud of how far I’ve come. And maybe, just maybe, if I share some of my insights after leaving my reunion I can make a difference in someone else’s life.

What I Wish I Did Not Do

  • Smoke. Geez, what was I thinking? It definitely impacted my skin. And, who knows what it did to my insides.
  • Be totally focused on the popular kids: trying to act, dress and talk like them. And even after all that, I never felt accepted nor did I find my own identity.
  • Boys, boys, boys. Need I say more?
  • Let the stigma of growing up in a single parent environment in the ‘50s and early ‘60s run a lot of my life.
  • Put my education way down the list of priorities and importance.
  • Make assumptions about people based strictly on appearance.
  • Ignore a compliment.
  • Complain profusely about having to work at age 16 every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

What I’m Glad I Did Do

  • Listened to mom when she told me to moisturize every time I washed my face. My 95-year-old mom still practices what she preaches!
  • Walked or rode my bike everywhere, swam at the local pool and skated on an iced parking lot all winter long. Exercise. It’s second nature to me now.
  • The boy who broke my heart in high school told me he peaked at 17 and has yet to find himself. I’m glad we never married.
  • Started work at 16. It taught me a work ethic that has served me well throughout my entire professional life.
  • Realized that if my dad was in the picture, I never would have the wonderful, intimate relationship I have with my mom for a variety of reasons.
  • Learned I never fit in with (who I thought were) the popular kids because I did not accept myself. It had nothing to do with them. I went on my own personal journey. That journey has taught me to not judge a book by its cover.
  • Be thankful that even though education did not feel like a priority especially in high school, I received a wonderful education that has inspired me to be a life-long student.
  • Learned to accept a compliment.


When I hear myself saying, “If I knew then what I know now,” I seem to follow it with, “Well, you didn’t, so what difference does it make?”

I realize life is a process, and if I knew EVERYTHING at 14 what would be the point of it all?  Life is an adventure, and if one chooses to be open to it, a constant source of “AHA!” moments that are woven together to create a unique tapestry called YOU.

Pamela Zitron is a writer, a rower and in her late 60s. She is currently working on a book inspiring agelessness using her 95-year-old mother as her role model. Like her Facebook page here. Read More
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