What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?

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A woman talking to a child in a field at sunsetDo you ever wish that you could speak to your younger self? Tell yourself all of the things that might help relieve some of the long-term stress – or even just offer a hug and encouraging words? I spend a lot of time saying things to my children that I wish that I could go back and share with the little girl that I was. 

Now, if you’re like me, you immediately start thinking of movies you’re familiar with. I would never want to put myself in a situation where I go Back to the Future and my brother starts disappearing from our photos or where I marry a time traveler and he knows what is going to happen because he’s already been there (anyone see that movie?), but I don’t think that a message or two from myself could hurt too much. Some basic messages of hope and strength maybe?

Life can be tough and we all have bumps and bruises from the tumbles we have taken. Some tumbles are larger than others, but we all have them. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t – it is how we learn and grow. A “perfect life” wouldn’t make you a very interesting human being. And while I think that many of us can now appreciate the challenges that have come our way, I wonder – what would you say to the younger you who might benefit from your experience? I have some ideas of what I’d say.

First and foremost, I would tell my younger self that everything is going to be okay. Do I know that for a fact? Of course not. Has everything been okay thus far? I believe so, but I suppose it depends on your definition of “okay.” I have some bumps and bruises (both figuratively and medically), but the truth is, we all just want to hear that it will all work out in the end. We want to know that we are strong enough to make it through. Because truly, it will be and we are. In the end, if you keep holding on and try to live with the best of intentions, everything is going to be okay. 

Second, I would tell myself that there will be tough times and amazing times – and to appreciate them all. The tough times are what make us who we are. The amazing times make everything worth it. You can make a decision to see your glass as half empty or half full – and it is a decision – so make the one that will get you through everything as whole as possible. 

Third, I would tell myself that my body will change, but that’s okay. It will change for many of the best reasons and some challenging reasons. We are not meant to look at 45 like we did at 20. As we grow, being “healthy and happy” becomes different from being “young and beautiful.” And frankly, it becomes much more important. For someone like me, surgeries left scars, autoimmune disorders left less hair than I used to have, and having two babies left me with a flabby belly and some incontinence. Nothing should stop me from doing what I love, not even bladder leaks.

Would I want to change any of it? I sometimes think I would, but the truth is, I don’t think so. All of this made me strong and happy. I couldn’t have what I have now if I didn’t go through everything I did. So the key is preparedness. I don’t buy clothing that emphasizes my belly (there is a reason peplum shirts exist!), I look for hairstyles that make me less self conscious, and I make sure to carry extra Depend® FIT-FLEX® Underwear. If I don’t have to worry about leaking or anything else that makes me extra self-conscious, I can just live my life to the fullest. 

There are lots of things that I think we would want to go back and tell our younger selves, but I wonder how much would be beneficial. Letting yourself know about things that might happen in the future could stunt the growth that you would otherwise have. Sharing anything too wonderful or celebratory might take the shine out of it. 

Have you thought about what you’d say to your younger self? I think the most important messages are that we are stronger than we might think, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that life is and will be good. That is what most of us want to believe anyway, so having it confirmed, while not learning any specifics, is what I wish we could share. That said, since we can’t go back, let’s make sure to tell ourselves going forward. 

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