Many years ago I turned seventeen, so young and dewy, eager to begin. If I could go back in time, what would I say to this insecure, vulnerable creature? What would you say to your seventeen old self? Here’s what I’d tell mine…
Be who you are, not whom you think you should be. I always thought I should be in a corporation since that’s where everyone went after college. After several years it dawned on me I didn’t belong in this world. My job involved marketing and promoting packaged goods I didn’t care about.
Instead I loved ideas and books and issues. I couldn’t summon the verve or talent to do what others did so effortlessly. I finally realized the problem wasn’t me. I just wasn’t suited to my job. I was wired to be more introspective, quiet, and well… writer-like. Listen to your heart.
Pick your friends wisely. Be mindful of the people who make you feel good and those who drain you. Keep the former.
Take care of your body. I think back to what I did in my twenties (I won’t go into detail, but intoxicants were involved). Your body has to last a lifetime. Treat it with love and respect. Give it good food and move a lot. You’ll be happy you did, trust me.
Life is in the small moments. Last year I had to take a nuclear stress test. Part of it involved being in a claustrophobic machine for twenty minutes. Most people would shrug that off, but to me I’d rather be on a medieval rack.
To escape, I mentally went to my happy place. It surprised me where that was. Was it strolling the Champs Elysee or the streets of Rome?
Nope. It was sipping a latte at my favorite coffee shop, sitting at a table with a good book and an oatmeal raisin cookie. That image brought me comfort and made me realize small things are what really make me happy.
Appreciate your family. They made you who you are. They love you. They’re there for you. Be good to them. Be there for them in return.
You will always be a slave to chocolate. Don’t even try giving it up as you will over the decades. But here’s the good news. In years to come, dark chocolate will prove healthy. It’s actually good for you! Yay! Who knew?!
Times goes fast, however…
You’re always younger than you think. I know people who always feel old. They were old at 25 because they weren’t 18 anymore. They were old at 30 because they weren’t 25 anymore. They were old at 35 because they weren’t 30 anymore.
Whenever they thought they were old, they were actually quite young.
I want to be like my grandmother who at 93, looked around her nursing home and asked, “Who are all these elderly people?” She never saw herself as aged and of course, never was, at least inside. Don’t accept society’s scripts, especially as a woman. Ask for a rewrite.
And remember, young, dewy 17 year-old…you’ll never stop feeling vulnerable and insecure.
You’ll just get better at hiding it.
(Originally posted November, 2013).
What would you tell your younger self? Comments are always welcome and if you like, please share. Thank you!