What I Know at 40 That I’d Tell Myself at 20
Picture yourself in your mind's eye twenty years ago. Who do you see? What shaped your world at that time? If you could go back to that instant, what would you say to your younger self?
I've been considering this very thing for the past few days as approaching the close of the year is often a time for reflection.
Here are some of the things my 40 year self would have liked to have told my 20 year self:
1) You are good enough. It's important so I'll say it again. You are good enough. Even when you think you're not and especially when you're told that you aren't. You are. Hang on to that.
2) This too shall pass. It may sting, it may smart, it may hurt like hell but it will pass. In the depths of pain you will find a steely strength that you couldn't have acquired any other way. Don't tinge it with bitterness. Keep it pure and forge your way forward.
3) You will mess up. Sometimes it will be in small ways and sometimes things will blow up in your face. Learn to take responsibility for your own actions. Be accountable and look for the lesson. Then, move on. Guilt and regret are weights on your wings. Let them go.
4) Dream big. You don’t have to play small. You have a unique light that wants to shine and glow and guide. Don’t dim that light for anyone. Ever.
5) Your parents did the best they could with what they had. Just like you are now.
6) Love hard. Love with every ounce of your being. Love with every fiber of who you are. Don’t dilute it or avoid it because of fear. To know love, you will also know hurt and loss at some point. Love anyway. Re-read number two.
7) Listen to your creative spirit. Your soul wants to sing to a song that only you can write the lyrics to. Nurture each creative calling. Allow yourself freedom of artistic expression without questioning its worth or acceptance.
8) Don’t stay stuck. You will change and you will learn and you will grow. Your fluidity is natural and necessary. Don’t try to contain your colors or restrict your movement. At different ages, you will have different yearnings. Go with them. Trust the voice at your core. Explore and play. Let life show you its wonder.
9) Cherish the friendships that matter. The ones that withstand time and distance. The ones that survive obstacles and challenges. These are the friendships that will carry you through the darker times and elevate you higher during happy times.
10) Learn to let go. People and possessions will sometimes pass through your life. There will be times when you will want to hang on tightly. To secure what you think you cannot endure losing. The freedom you seek is found when you loosen your grip and let go.
11) Neither your bank balance nor your weight define you. Strive to stay well balanced with both but let your ultimate aim be health and happiness. Don’t get too hung up on figures of any kind. Your self-worth is not a number.
12) Be grateful. Cultivate gratitude and give thanks for what you have. Do this daily and you will change your focus from what you think you lack to what you realize you are enriched with.
13) Be open to change. Nothing in this world is permanent. Change may frighten you but without it nothing new can occur. No new joy can be experienced. No amazing transformations can take place.
14) Remember you have a choice. Always. It may not be a desirable choice or an easy one but you do have the freedom to choose. Even when it comes to the actions of others, you have a choice on how to respond and how to process your thoughts. Choose wisely.
15) Blaze your own trail. Be yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are your own unique, flawed, colorful, wonderful self. There is only one of you and there will only ever be one quite like you. Go out into the world and make your mark. Be proud to own who you are and what you do. Be courageous. Fly high. Create the life you want to live and be who you were born to be.