Two words to your younger self. Or your lost self. What would you say?
This week as I was wasting vast amounts of time on Facebook (instead of packing the house for our impending move TOMORROW. WHAT AM I DOING? …) Anyway, American author Elizabeth Gilbert posted this very question.
I follow the Eat, Pray, Love/Signature of All Things author on her public Facebook page (she’s totally worth following if you’re a fan) and she asked the question: What would you say to the old you? Not a letter. Two words. What would the message be?
Elizabeth had three options, here’s what she wrote:
1) “Calm down.” (This was my first thought. But I eventually rejected this one, on account of the fact that is STILL the advice I need to follow, so it doesn’t have much to do with being young, specifically…)
2) “No boys.” (Oh, god — what I could have done with my youth had I not gotten so entangled in so many doomed romances! The hours, the months, the YEARS that I gave away to boys! The drama! The infatuations! The tears! All those evenings spent watching “Predator” again and again! I just read a study saying that 30% of all students at Ivy League universities are virgins, and I thought: “Well, of course!” If I had stayed away from boys, and instead used all that time productively, I also could have mastered Mandarin and physics and violin by the age of 21.)
3) “Never mind.” (This is what I finally settled on. Because everything I did when I was young — every mistake, every drama, every failure, every euphoric encounter, every dream, every yearning — has made me who I am today. And while I am far from perfect, I cannot help but believe that I needed become exactly this person, which is to say that I needed all those experiences, precisely the way they were. So if my younger self asked my advice, I would just say, “Never mind.” Do exactly what you’re doing. It all takes you where you need to be. A thought which becomes kind of reassuring, in terms of the mistakes I am probably making today…if you get my drift…)
Me? I have two options. The first is simply a message to tell me the two things to focus on in my life: “Write. Love”. (Actually I’m now wondering if it should be “Write. Eat”?)
I realised this year that writing does for me and my headspace what going to the gym does for my husband. It’s my time out as well as my passion. My second option: “Be You”. Like everyone else I feel like I’ve spent eternity trying to pretzel myself into pleasing other people.
I’m only just learning now at 41 that authenticity is the key to happiness. And potato chips. But mostly authenticity.
Over to you. What two words would you say to the old you? Or the younger you. Or the lost you?