What are 15 things you would tell your younger self?
Recently, a yoga teacher closed her class with that question and it stuck with me.
In my younger years…
I remember almost 10 years ago: 18, working my ass off, in school, partying like a rockstar, and having a lot of uncertainty about my future. 18 years old, hung-over and physically miserable, (from alcohol, etc.) and complete lack of confidence due to shitty relationships (romantic and otherwise), that encompassed my altered state of being. Maybe this sounds familiar, maybe it doesn’t; take what applies to you and leave the rest.
I remember one evening when I was waiting tables, I was waiting on this guy in his 70s (he was eating alone) and he asked me a lot of questions—not just the dinner specials but the true core of my being. Anyone who’s ever waited tables knows how rare it is for a patron to even care about who’s serving them. He asked me important things and I took it all borderline offensively, because as much as I was walking around aimless, I had convinced myself that I knew everything.
He asked me what I wanted to do 5 years from now, if I was in college, if I’d consider going into the Armed Forces, what I enjoyed doing, etc. I had no concrete answer to any of the questions (except that I was in college) and it felt like each question was a punch in the stomach. He finally asked me how old I was, I told him I was 18 and he then said something to me that I never, ever forgot. “Find what you love to do. I know it’s hard right now to think about it because you’re still learning about what you want and what you need in life. There is going to be a day and night difference between your 20 year old self and your 25 year old self.” I thought the man was a crazy, initially. Now I’m so glad this guy talked to me and gave me a kick in the ass that I needed. I thought about his questions, often. Didn’t do anything drastic, initially but he planted some positive seeds in my mind.
The choices we make dictate our future
Not too many people know this but I was SUPER close to joining the Navy in October of 2006. I had met with a recruiter at the community college that I was attending. My Dad was unemployed at that time because of the big economic crash, I had to work my ass off to make rent, utilities, food, etc. and I was also becoming dependent on chemicals to be able to work, study, and party, and the Navy seemed to be my only way out.
I wanted to run from Nashville and the Navy seemed like the right ticket and I was born in Norfolk, VA so if I ever got stationed there, I had family close by and members of my family served in the Navy. It seemed like an “easy” step in my eyes. I could go to school, get away from Nashville, and see the world. That same month of considering the Navy, I had to get my wisdom teeth removed and in my anesthesia-based mentality, I decided against it. My parents had to take care of me after surgery and some part of me just didn’t want to leave my parents behind and I knew they’d worry about me. In my 2 days of pain-medicated sleepwalking, I decided Nashville was my permanent home and that I wanted to be with this guy that kept hitting on me every time I was working…he eventually became my husband.
Life has had ups and downs for the past 10 years. I’m nowhere near perfect and I’ve only figured out a couple of things and they are all subject to change. Over the years I found what I’m good at, what I love to do, what my priorities are, and what doesn’t serve me. This all leads me back to the initial question: what are 15 things you’d tell your younger self?
Here are mine and they are in no particular order:
1. Love is a choice, not a feeling. Keep love a priority.
2. Pray and meditate. Connecting with God is gonna get you through some hurdles to come.
3. Watch your temper because you can’t take back what you say.
4. Just don’t drink or do drugs. It really doesn’t suit you. You’re already crazy; you don’t need to add to it. You’ll thank me later, I promise.
5. Make health a priority. Yoga is awesome, you should try it. It will change your life. Seriously.
6. Be good to your family.
7. Forgive…forgive…forgive and keep forgiving. People are gonna stomp all over you and you gotta brush that shit off. Injured people hurt other people.
8. Keep it real. Honesty is the best policy.
9. Fitting in is just stupid and leads you to constantly compare yourself to others.
10. Love yourself. Quit being so mean to yourself.
11. Being alone and loneliness are two different things. Don’t be afraid to be alone.
12. All these crazy hours of working and going to school will be worth it. I promise! Great things are coming and this is just building up your stamina.
13. Speak up! Don’t let those assholes walk all over you!! Who cares if they were your supervisors? They were wrong! You stayed at those jobs too long, too.
14. Don’t ever get too comfortable. Everything has a shelf life.
15. Quit taking shit so personal! People are gonna let you down and you can’t take it personal. You’re responsible for your actions and your actions only.
What would you tell your younger self?
I’m not asking for the sake of looking back in regret. Take this as an opportunity to possibly laugh at yourself, see things with wiser eyes, and see how far you’ve come.