“Hi. I remember those cheeks. Be happy with natural curls and stand up for yourself. Relish every moment with Dad. Some people are cruel and dishonest for sport — but there are lots who are fighting a good fight and running a fair race. That is what deserves the attention and energy.” — Julia Roberts
Please don’t tell my kids I’m quoting Julia Roberts. They are not fans. However, I thought her quote in People magazine’s “Advice to My Young Self” was really great.
Maybe it’s because I’m about to bid another year adieu, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the life territory I’ve covered so far. Even after giving it a whole lot of thought, I really don’t know what advice I’d give to my young self. Sure, there are things I would’ve done differently over these forty-blah-blah-blah years. I’ve had a full spectrum of unfortunate hair colors and ridiculous “fashion” selections. I’ve gravitated towards the wrong type of guy since my parents gave me permission to date. My undergrad GPA reflects about 1/8 of my ability to study and work. I’ve said hurtful things that cannot be taken back — which makes me sad even now. Questionable life choices created a bumpy and unconventional path into adulthood.
But you know what? I don’t know that I would do anything differently. Every “misstep” has had a purpose.
The hair? The clothes? Big deal. So they make for embarrassing photos later. Clothes are simply a reflection of what we like and what makes us feels good — at that particular time. And that’s supposed to be fluid. Thank goodness I’m not still wearing the same clothes or hair from twenty or thirty years ago. The blonde, ginormous 80’s hair worked in high school. It wouldn’t now. The wrong guys? Each one has taught me a little more about what I will and won’t accept in a companion. As a result, I don’t feel the need to settle and I enjoy my own company over a schmuck’s any day. My undergrad efforts? After years of kicking myself for not applying myself whatsoever, I used that disappointment to fuel the pursuit of my master’s degree with zero margin for error – and achieved it. Hurtful words? I’ve learned what kind of person I don’t want to be. I’ve learned to be more compassionate — and to self-edit before blurting out words that can’t be reeled back in. An unconventional path? Questionable life choices? I ended up here as a result. And “here” is a very good place. Yes, I’d do most everything again — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
So what would I tell my younger self? I suppose I’d say: you’re you. You’re imperfect. You’re going to make mistakes. But the great thing about this life is that every mistake brings with it the opportunity to make things right. And if things can’t be made completely right, that’s okay, too. You do the best you can and learn everything you can from it so you improve. In the meantime, lighten up. Be nice — to yourself and everyone else. Be authentic — it’s the only way to fulfill your purpose and be of genuine benefit to others. Above all, you will grow older, but don’t grow up completely. It’s so much more fun that way.