Anyway, it got me thinking; what would I say to my younger self and it’s not as easy as you might think? It’s tempting to say, don’t work so hard but, if I hadn’t laid down the foundations in my youth, where would I be now? For my younger self to work less hard, I or that is my current self (I have a feeling that this is going to get messy) would have to work more hard and that wouldn’t do at all.
Lots of the letters seem to focus on physical attributes and the writers urge their younger selves to be more body confident and make the most of the fact that they are probably in their physical prime. Nora Ephron is famously quoted as urging young people to wear a bikini and not to take it off until they are 34 but I have never wanted to wear a bikini. Not at 16 and certainly not now. I don’t regret any of my fashion choices, not even the hideous ones and it would be a bit rich telling the younger me to accept her curly hair when I straighten it to within an inch of its life every single day. All in all then maybe I had better just leave young me to it where looks are concerned.
I would tell myself, however, not to waste time worrying because in my experience the things that will bring you to your knees are not the things you have worried about but the other stuff that blindsides you. Stuff you never could have predicted, not even in a month of Sundays. What’s more it’s probably a blessing that you don’t see the really bad things that could be heading your way. What would be the point? You can’t prepare for tragedy or the pain that it brings, you simply have to endure it and hope that somehow you survive it and come out the other side. If I could give young me a piece of advice it would be to accept the fact that life consists of good and bad and to worry about the bad will only taint the joy of the good. Instead enjoy the good for as long as it lasts and ride out the bad as best you can.
I would also urge young me to be braver and not be afraid to take more risks. It really doesn’t matter if you trip or fail, nobody other than yourself cares enough to remember and six months down the road it’s all just a distant memory. The positive thing about mistakes is, the more you make, the more you realise they don’t matter. The only thing that does matter is that you pick yourself up and try something else and if that doesn’t work out either then c’est la vie.
Nothing in life actually matters other than people and I would tell young me to cherish all of the people that she loves because you don’t know how long they will be around. Ensure that nothing is left unsaid, the only true regret that you can have is not telling the people who you care about how dear they are to you. When we are young and feel invincible we don’t appreciate how quickly people can be taken from us, sometimes without any warning at all.
In fact, do you know what, the more I think about it the less inclined I feel to offer any advice whatsoever. Surely the whole point of life is to just meander along and see where it leads us. If we were armed with prior knowledge, would that not just cushion us from the things that make us who we are? So I will merely say to young me; keep on putting one foot in front of the other and make sure you enjoy the journey along the way.