Let’s be honest, I’m not exactly thrilled about the wrinkles under my eyes or the not-so-perfect-alignment of my once perfectly straight teeth.
Alas, we are all in the process of getting older, and lately I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned in those colorful years that are now sweet memories in scrapbooks and iPhoto albums. My ponderings produced this list of things I would tell my younger self if someone gave me the ability to go back in time and give her a few good nuggets of advice.
The list is not meant to be preachy. It is directed to myself, after all. :) And trust me, it’s based on the things I wish I’d done differently….plus a few things I can say, by the grace of God, I’ve managed to not be terrible at.
What I would tell my younger self….
This post is dedicated to GW with love.
Be a fan.
There will be people in your life who really go out on a limb and pour their heart into a dream–writing a book, pursuing a music career, having lots of kids, or starting a business. Be the friend who “likes” their Facebook page, leaves customer reviews on their business website, and pre-orders their book or album. Give to their kickstarter campaigns and babysit their kids. Be a fan. We all need encouragement and small gestures change people’s lives.
Just say no.
To drugs, sure, but also sometimes to people. ;) You don’t have to nurture relationships with every human who wants one with you–some relationships are unhealthy, unsustainable, just for a season, or simply not meant to be. You don’t have to stay in touch with old boyfriends. You don’t have to say yes to everyone who asks of you.
Assume the best in people.
If you don’t know someone’s intentions, assume the best of them until you have concrete evidence otherwise. We all have different ways of communicating and people often don’t realize how they’re being perceived. Assume the best.
When a conflict arises with someone, seriously consider confronting her. If you are not willing to confront, then do not gripe about the unresolved issue (even if that griping is just to yourself) since YOU decided not to try to resolve it. If you decide not to confront her, don’t expect her to change; you’ve got to own up to your decision and work on yourself–what are YOU going to do to handle this situation in a healthy way? Or maybe you decide it IS worth addressing with the other person in hopes of better understanding each other–that is awfully hard to do but also gives the other person a fair chance to explain. Yes, it can be awkward, but it can also bring healing and not only save the relationship but even strengthen it.
On boys and sex…
For some reason the world makes it look like everybody is sleeping with lots of people and it’s normal and awesome. I can’t say from experience that that lifestyle is not awesome, but nothing could be more awesome than no STDs, no giving your body away to someone who wasn’t really committed and oops-changed his mind, and marrying someone who practiced self-control while waiting for you and brings that same integrity and devotion to your marriage. God can redeem anything, but you will never regret doing things God’s way.
Buy a cheap pocket calendar…
and jot down a note every few days of something you wouldn’t normally record. Just little every day things that brought a laugh or made you think. In a few years, the calendar will bring back details you otherwise never would have thought about again. You can also write notes to your hubby (or anyone!) about silly things that happen and give the calendar to him a few years later.
“Today you ran over my foot with your car.”
(Yes, my husband ran over my foot with his car). :)
That little tug on your heart to give something away means you should probably just do it. It’s amazing how God honors the cheerful giver. Letting go of stuff, including money, is also a great practice in reminding yourself that it’s not really yours anyways, and things don’t have any eternal value.
Keep it or pitch it.
It’s insane how much CRAP you can accumulate in life. Where does it all come from?! When you move to a new place, you will be glad you didn’t hold onto every little thing. But some things really are worth holding onto, so establish a super easy place to put things you want to keep forever, and be in the constant practice of asking, “What are the chances I’m ever going to need or want this again?” Slim? Dump it.
– A book about breastfeeding before you have a baby.
– The Bible, every day that you can. You can even set little rules for yourself that are just between you and God as a way of showing him he comes before anything else. No Instagram unless you’ve read your Bible, for example.
– “Ruthless Trust” by Brennan Manning.
– someone who is going to be a really, really good dad.
– someone who handles conflict well. Misunderstandings, tensions, and some fighting are all going to be a part of your married life no matter who you marry. Watch carefully how your boyfriend handles problems when they come. Does he avoid? Downplay? Blame? Scream? Or does he want to work through it lovingly, deepening your relationship and building your trust? Now you work on being a person who handles conflict like that, too.
– someone who has a track record of self-control. We live in a “if you feel it then do it” world. You want to be married to someone who isn’t going to do everything they might feel like doing in a given moment (flirting with someone who isn’t their wife, for example), and someone who does some things they don’t feel like doing. (Laundry, anyone?)
Take spending breaks…
on home decorations (or whatever you tend to spend your dough on.) Look at what you already own and haven’t put up in your home yet. Either put it all into use or get rid of it before you buy more. There will always be more things to buy. A buying break is also a great reminder that it’s all just stuff and you could go without it.
Establish a day that is your Sabbath.
This doesn’t have to mean you kick up your feet and veg all day, but keep the day holy by refraining from engaging in certain kinds of work that you know you need rest from. Make it the day in the week you intentionally try to do something you enjoy and remind yourself that God is good while you do it.
Don’t think life *really* starts later…
….after high school, once you’re in college, once you’re in a serious relationship, once you’re in a great career, once you’re married, etc.
If you’re alive, life has begun. God has good things for you wherever you are, and some of those good things won’t be there, or they’ll change, once you get to that next step.
Wear your retainer.
Just wear it.
It’s such a peaceful way to exist.
Ask for career help.
If you’re going to pursue a hard-to-get-into career, you need help. You need to seek people to mentor you, bounce ideas off you, critique you, and pray for you. Be brave and just ask.
Listen to older people.
Their history is a gift to you, and you listening is a gift to them. And one day, you will be all reflective and want to share some of your wisdom with younger people, too. You might even write a blog post about it. ;)
Leaving a comment is easy (and rewarding!) Which of these ideas was most interesting to you? What would you tell your younger self?
One lucky commenter will receive a hand-picked goodie bag from me! Winner randomly selected July 10th, 2015.