Prompt: Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)
Let me imagine myself five years from now. I’ll be a 30-something with a 13 year old, an 8 year old, and a 6 year old. I’m hoping by that point in time I’ll be a home owner and a successful freelancer. I’ll have known my husband for 15 years by that point. Imagining myself in those shoes, I’d like to advise myself to stick to my guns during the upcoming year – buckle down, make the leap, and stop letting fear get the better of myself. Stop living life by others’ standards. I have some reasonable morals and values, and I know better than anyone else what’s best for me and my family. There is no one else who will fully grasp the thought processes going through my head, nor should I expect that. I have a good head on my shoulders, I have a capacity to learn, and I know how to read. (Really, more people should place emphasis on reading in all aspects of their lives. Books, magazines, signs, menus, disclaimers, waivers, contracts, fine print – read all of it.) I also would advise myself to take good care of myself. I only get one shot at this, and I’d serve myself better if I took the time to make sure my teeth last longer, my mind lasts longer, and I function much longer. Oh sure, there’s that email forward that pushes people to “skid into the coffin sideways with a hot dog in one hand and a beer in the other yelling, ‘wow, what a ride!’” – but what’s the point of “quality over quantity” if by 50 you’re so broken down that you can’t enjoy your life anymore? That would seem to me that you’re sacrificing quality AND quantity, but perhaps that’s just my observational bias.
And to my younger self, get ready: you are not on the right career path as it stands. Brace yourself for challenges and obstacles. They’re all over the place. Don’t wait until the last minute to change course, and don’t feel like you’re giving up. You’re not giving up – you’re just realizing that change is inevitable. You will change dramatically in some ways, yet you’ll stay the same in others. Don’t lose hope, don’t give up on your dreams, and quit worrying about what everyone else thinks. Guess what? It’s not about what other people think – it’s about what you think, and it’s about you making things work. You have all the resources you need right inside that skull of yours, and don’t you ever forget that. Make peace with yourself and all the changes and challenges that come your way. You’ll save a lot of stress that way. And most importantly, remember that people care more about you than you choose to realize. There’s a time and place to be stubborn, so pay attention in order to ensure you know when and where to dig your heels in. Oh, and trust me – you might feel grown up right now, but you’ll look back and realize you were relatively young. Heck, some days I realize I’ll think the same thing in another ten years.