Glorious peeps—I have been reflecting a lot this month. This year has brought a lot of changes, and I am grateful for my family, friends, clients, projects, and increasingly: the gift of understanding more and more how I tick as a woman. Holy &^%, I’m a WOMAN.
When did it dawn on you that you were no longer a kid? That you were past the point of “What are you going to be when you grow up” to actually being grown up. You have a job, a mortgage, possibly a partner and kids, maybe a pet or two. Probably a neurosis or five.
Looking back on it, I wish my current self could have told my teen and young adult self a few things about what life looks like. Tough love, perhaps, over a coffee at the local dive she used to frequent, because Older Self has realized that vodka isn’t necessarily the best choice for anxious Younger Self. Nor is dyeing your hair the opposite of your natural color or wearing colored contacts that are not a biologically possible eye color. . . but I digress.
Here are 5 things I would say to my 20ish year old Self:
1. The person you are dating this week that you think you cannot live without, who you breath, eat, and sleep about, might not be the partner you need for life.
Sure, you love them, you are infatuated with them, they are going to be wonderful at some point in the future when they figure out how much they love you back. They will figure out their goals, and perhaps stop cheating on you. Guess what, Younger Self? Loving does not equal Having. It’s OK to love them, to lose them, and to mourn the loss of the idea you had for this partnership. But remember: it was an idea. You match less than the socks I’m wearing. Your future self deserves a partner who makes you a lot less anxious, more hopeful, better person. Your true partner will reciprocate the love you have to give. They will not keep you guessing. They will love all facets of you, even when you don’t. They will laugh with you when you fall down a flight of stairs, but only after they ask if you’re OK.
Younger Self is busy checking her pager/cell phone for messages from The One, so I continue with this:
2. While you’re at it—trust that the right person will come along, or not.
Once you accept the love of self, the love that surrounds you, and the love you have to give. I repeat: loving is not the need to have, control, or find definite answers of another human being. Typically, clenching onto people you date like the tow-rope on the bunny hill does not a comfortable relationship make. Allow a person to love you of their own volition; you shouldn’t have to prove to them your worth. Also, being picky about stupid things like hair color or hand size is probably not the most efficient use of time. . . it’s not like your little quirks are going unnoticed. Yes, I’m talking about your man-laugh. And you know what--if you don’t find a life partner? You’ll make it. Because look at all the people in your life that share this great journey with you—soul mates come in all shapes and sizes.
Younger Self *GASPS!* Upon learning she has not married until 32 years of age. This is unthinkable and sets off a panic attack. I calmly explain that it is worth the wait, as most things are, and continue, as she breathes into a paper bag. . .
3. The problems you have are usually of your own creation.
They are only "problems" if you choose to see them that way. Things will be hard: There will be pain, loss, confusion. Think about what you believe you are here to do: you want to change the world, you want to help, you want to love, a lot of times you just want to be attractive and popular. You maybe want to be an astronaut. Does it not make sense that God would call in situations that challenge these ideas of yours? That to actually live who you are, it entails overcoming the opposite challenges? There is a beautiful Yin-Yang to life. Without your problems, you would not learn solutions and approaches that help you grow. You would not learn how to find your path and service in the world. If you ARE something, you better believe the Universe will bulldoze in and say “OH, YOU THINK SO, HEY?” God has a sense of humor, for sure. Laugh with God.
Younger Self eyes me curiously and sets aside the paper bag. She has plenty of “situations” that challenge her. She thinks about how to reframe these as learning experiences. She remembers that she did, after all, learn how to rollerblade even after very publicly running into trees and other static objects. Challenge overcome. Which reminds me to tell her:
4. You spend way too much time worrying.
Young Self: Your moments of panic don’t really go away, they just change. Remember that one particularly bad summer when you had to use an inhaler during softball because you’d worry yourself into breathlessness? During games, when you started to freak out, Dad, with his infinite humor and wisdom, would calm you down by saying, “What’s the worst that can happen? You DIE?!” And pretty much, yes, that is the worst thing that could have happened. Would you be OK just letting things play out? Yes. Would you even be OK if you DIED?! Yes. See his point? Imagine the worst scenario of your worst worry—would you survive it? Yes, you would, and you will live to worry about irrational things another day. More on anxiety in another post. What are your worries telling you? It might not what you think.
Younger Self eats a few, or 20, cheese curds because she has not started to retain any kind of weight, takes a moment to think about her ideas surrounding death, makes a mental note to do some more reading on afterlife ideas. This segues into my final point:
5. Focus on the beauty, mystery, and excitement of life.
You, Young Self, are here on this Earth to experience life and learn for the betterment of your soul. You were put here to explore, and there is beauty in change, in drama, in new and old, and nothing is for certain. It’s OK that you change your mind, feel weak, feel lost, feel lonely, because that is what you are here to experience so that you might grow, connect and love as your best Self. You only have today, and when you look back you will see the patterns, the reasons why, and the tools you’ve garnered. Start looking for these patterns! Physical beauty fades, friendships come and go, people die, and choices don’t stop coming. Sit with yourself long enough to be OK with it all. To feel, to mourn the changes you undergo within yourself, to face your fears, so that you may experience all that life has to give. You’ve made it this far: Look towards the future with excitement, awe, and humor—there is always beauty and hope in the journey.
There are about 6.7 million other things I could bring up to my younger self, but she has lost interest, has ordered a shot, and is looking around the room for attractive men because, hey, that is what matters to her right now. I get it—and what a different set of worries and preoccupations they were. So, I am sitting here with my 35 year old self, wondering what my 50 year old self will tell me. I know she’ll still be drinking coffee, laughing, and learning. I can’t wait to meet her.