Someone recently asked me what I would tell my younger self if I could go back in time. The following is a complex answer to an incredibly loaded question…
You’re 10 and grieving for the first time.
You loved that cat more than anything and no one told you that death wasn’t something made up in Sunday School. Cry. Cry because in this moment you are learning that life is fragile and beautiful and existential. Cry because right now we are realizing that being vulnerable is not the same as being weak and being transparent is constructive. Cry. Cry because today you construct the first fibers of the parachute I’ll rely on when the foot stone doesn’t read, kitten.
You are learning that life is fragile and existential
You’re 15 and your friends don’t go here.
You’re struggling to find your place among new faces and frustrated at being ripped from your comfort zone. Persist. Persist because this is how you build our foundation of inclusiveness. Persist because now is when social revelations shift our center and re-structure our perception of others. Today you are teaching us that click and cool are ideas we will always skirt.
You are building our foundation of inclusiveness
You’re 18 and you worry about everything.
Irrationalities e r o d e your aspirations and what-ifs drip down pages that have yet to be written. Your decisions are immobilizing and change is debilitating. Worry on. Worry on because this is when we learn that worriment is complex and systemic. Worry because being controlled by anxiety will force us to actually do something about it.
You’re 20 and you’re heart sick.
You’ve loaned your heart to another and it’s returned to you in pieces. You’re angry and confused and apprehensive about tomorrow. Keep hurting. Keep hurting because today our lover list becomes more selective. Keep hurting because, soon, we will be stronger. Keep hurting, you’ve established that our worth is not determined by others.
Today, our lover list has become more selective… you’ve established that our worth is not determined by others
You’re 23 and you’re under-estimated.
The working world is chewing you up but you refuse to be spit out. University never prepared you for a male-dominated industry where pencil skirts and slim waste lines are more powerful than resumes. Work on. Work on because one day we won’t be disregarded for our youth. Work on because soon we’ll be responsible for younger, prettier colleagues. Work on because each day we are challenged to be more assertive yet fair, confident yet reproachable.
One day, we won’t be disregarded for our youth
You’re 25 and you’ve shattered.
Tragedy has ripped your world out from under you and your twisting beneath the shock of despair. You’ve lost one of the most influential, precious relationships you’ll e v e r have and pressing on seems bleak and futile. Hold on. Hold on because you will survive. Hold on because you’re learning that crushing pain is conquerable. Hold on because today you’ve already started gathering the tools necessary to meet these demons again. Hold on because as a 10-year-old girl you began building a lifeline that will, in time, deliver us safely on solid ground.
Crushing pain is conquerable; you’ve gathered the tools necessary to meet these demons again
You’re 27 and you’re content.
The waters are not always smooth but you’ve learned to be steadfast amongst the deepest troughs. You’re content because you’ve learned that all storms dissipate and riding them out is a beautiful opportunity to develop physical, mental and emotional strongholds. You’re content because you’ve realized that, in a world of unknowns, it’s safe to rely on the passage of time and the changes it brings. Though double edged as it may be, change refuses to leave us unchanged and unchallenged and THAT is reason enough to celebrate.
Stay humble, stay focused, and make no small plans.
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash