Life Lessons to My Younger Self
There’s a saying, “we grow too soon old and too late smart.” I don’t know that I agree with that so much – I don’t necessarily think aging is our archenemy, and I believe we get smart when we get smart, which happens sooner for some and never for others.
Youth is a glorious thing, no doubt about it. But, like it or not, it’s temporary. Getting older has its advantages too; you get discounts at the movies, you’re an authority on the ancient art of Pong and Pac Man, your leg hairs grow a lot slower, and you’ll probably never have to buy Vaseline or WD-40 again, to name just a few.
I enjoy being the age I am, but still, there are those things that I “wish I’d known then what I know now.” So listen up, young’uns (and older’uns who maybe haven’t figured these things out yet) and let me share a few pearls of wisdom I wish I could have told myself 30 or so years ago.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. A parking ticket, a scratched bumper, a lost earring; these and approximately a ton of other things can be annoying as crap and even a bit costly, but, as my husband says, it’s not a B-52 crater. Unless you want to draw up and live in a cave somewhere, which I’m sure has its own issues (damp floor, bat guano), it’s just part of life on planet earth.
My husband and I have a remark for little things that go wrong – “Honey, I (you, we) burnt the toast.” It puts things in perspective.
Stick with what you love. I always loved to write. Stories, poetry, lyrics, you name it. I won a few contests in short stories and journalistic writing and had a few articles published over the years, but for every item that was read or rewarded or published, my internal editor (hairy, critical little bastard) threw away about a hundred. I should have fired him a long time ago.
After a whole lot of could’s and should’s and ought to’s, working in about every field you can imagine (seriously, try me) I’m finally doing what I love to do, but darn it, where was I when I needed me?
There are those few people who just seem to fall ass-backwards into success at what they want to do, but for most people it takes a whole lot of stick-with-it-ness. And be prepared to be your own fan club.
Have fun every chance you get. I know, life is not always one big hootenanny. We all have to do things we don’t want to every now and then, either out of obligation or just plain getting roped into it. But for everything else, figure out a way to make it fun or at least rewarding, or don’t do it.
Delayed gratification can be fun if it means enjoying the anticipation of something, but not fun if it’s just denial in disguise. If you can do something, do it. Have that thing you want to have and eat that thing you want to eat. Just be clever about it – do it at the right time, at the right price, in the right proportion, and so nobody gets hurt.
Don’t take things so personally. A look (which may not even be meant for you), a careless comment (which may be from misinformation or lack of education) – it’s sticks and stones, sweetie. Sticks and stones.
You never know what problems or insecurities someone else is dealing with. The best you can do is to avoid giving people a reason to dislike you.
Nothing stays the same. If things are bad, they’ll get better. If things are amazing, sorry to be a Debbie Downer but sooner or later somebody is going to piss in your Cornflakes.
Realizing this, that nothing stays the same, has gotten me through some pretty horrid times. Any day you wake up … is a good day.
Everything doesn’t have to match. Call it shabby chic, wabi-sabi, or perfect imperfection, when things start to show a little “life” it adds character.
In my younger days I would throw away full sets of dishes because of a broken plate. Now I just mix everything up and pretend it’s on purpose.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can be that vegetarian who has the occasional burger, the fitness dude who has a donut every now and then, or the teetotaler who drinks a glass of wine.
Sure, you may not fit the label, but who needs labels?
Learn from your mistakes. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Spoiler alert, you’re going to live long enough to make your fair share.
Here’s the thing – you’re not going to be right all the time. When things go wrong, you can beat yourself up (painful), you can blame somebody else (pointless), or you can figure out what you could do better next time (money).
Stay in a learning frame of mind. We all pick up tidbits here and there, but a few years ago I found myself in a situation where I needed to learn an entirely new skill set. It was an interesting thing; I felt my mind actually switching over from I’m-a-grownup-and-I-know-all-the-stuff-I-need-to-know mode to hyper drive. It was exhilarating and I haven’t stopped.
Learning keeps you young. It keeps you interested. It makes you interesting. It gives you a global view of the world. It gives you new skills and a new vocabulary. There’s just nothing that’s not good about it.
Now excuse me while I go figure out a spot to bury these wise words, so I find them much sooner next time around.
Bonjour! Je suis Kelley
Hi, I’m Kelley – thrower of parties, drinker of wine, and lover of all things French. I hope you enjoy my Lessons in Becoming French!