15 Things I’d Say To My Younger Self

Dear Joan: There are so many things I want to tell you, my younger self. With so many years in the rear-view mirror, I could go on for hours. But I’m not sure you would thank me.

Our life today is as it is because we had no idea what was coming; we had no warnings or clues about what to seek or what to avoid. And although it’s been an imperfect life, I want to be so cautious about tinkering with it.

Younger self, we’ve had many moments of joy and wonder and surprise sprinkled throughout our life so far. I’m uncertain how the road ahead would change for is, if we knew a curve was headed our way. I wonder if lessons learned would have any meaning if we didn’t have to live through the consequences of our own inexperience and naivete?

Let’s assume I can do no harm by sharing some compassion with you, my younger self.

I hesitate to be too specific – I don’t want to name names and prescribe advice because all our missteps have shaped the woman we are today. Although she has many flaws, she’s the person the universe intended her to be. And we’ve yet to know all the whys. It would be a shame to take us off-course!

But, sweetheart, you deserve to know some essential truths. So, I still want to share more than a few things I would have loved for someone else to tell you. I wish there had been someone kind who took you by the shoulder, gently kissed your cheek and told you that you are a wonderful person, just as you are. Who knows how much sweeter the rest of the journey may have been?

So, lovely girl, here are 15 things that I hope you can hear and accept and weave into your life sooner rather than later! 

  1. You don’t look like all the other children, but that doesn’t make you inferior. Don’t allow them to make you feel that way, under any circumstance.
  2. Know your parents are doing the best they can. Try to remember they had difficult childhoods, and both had to grow up way too early.
  3. Spend more time with Grandma.
  4. Hug Dad extra hard every time you see him because he’ll be gone sooner than you expect.
  5. Cultivate friendships with girls and women. Invest as much energy in them as you do in your relationships with boys and men.
  6. Be careful when you ride your bike home from Alison’s house on July 15, 1974. It would be amazing to live the rest of your life without that horrible scar.
  7. Know that you’re worthy of love and don’t settle for anything less.
  8. End relationships with anyone who is dishonest, unfaithful, or treats you as though you are dispensable.
  9. Don’t be taken in by things that seem too good to be true. They are.
  10. Look into your heart to decide who and what you want to be, and the life you want to live. Don’t succumb to pressure to be something or someone conjured up by others. You can think for yourself and still be respectful.
  11. Make do more often; go without, if necessary; learn earlier in life that possessions don’t amount to anything, in the grand scheme of things.
  12. Pursue travel and adventure with abandon!
  13. Go out of your way to attend as many family gatherings as possible.
  14. On your worst days, know that things will get better.
  15. On your best days, know that there will be tough days, too; bank happiness and contentment and shore up faith to get you through those times. You’ll be glad you did.

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Joan Senio, My Best Friend Adeline

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