This post is inspired by Holley Gerth’s Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely for which I was blessed to be a member of her book launch team.
In chapter 5 Holley talks about if she could go back to her elementary school, she would look into her younger self’s eyes and tell her
“You’re going to be okay. Actually, you’re going to be quite wonderful.”
That got me to thinking what would I tell my younger self if I could go back to elementary school.
Now you have to be very, very, very careful what you tell young children as they are very, very, very, impressionable. I know. I was very impressionable and had words said to me that should not be said to anyone of any age.
I am going to put a different twist on Holley’s idea and say what I would tell myself at the following turning points in life:
- elementary school self
- 18-year-old self the night before graduation
- 22-year-old self the night before college graduation
- the night before my wedding self
- the returning to work self the first day back after Joe’s passing.
My Elementary School Self
What I would tell myself the night before I start first grade. This is the most difficult because I would not want to freak my young self out, but there is an important life-changing, life-shaping event that will happen in a year. I need to instill confidence in her and not destroy her self-esteem.
- Never forget Jesus loves you.
- Love everyone
- Be Kind to everyone
Oh, and 1 + 1 = 2 not 11.
My 18-Year-Old Self
The night before my high school graduation I would say:
- Don’t give up the flute. Take lessons in college. Start a hobby career as a flute player for weddings, cocktail parties, and other social events. Keep track of your clients and stay in touch with them during the holiday season. This is called networking and you will be ahead of the rest of society if you develop good networking skills now.
- Change Your Major. Instead of setting your sites on being a teacher, major in Library Science with a minor in creative writing. Make sure you do not lose your conversational writing tone.
- Stop being a people pleaser. Instead, live to please God.
My 22-Year-Old Self
The night before my college graduation I would tell myself:
- Stay grounded in the Bible. It will always be your manual for living fully and loving bravely.
- Keep a gratitude journal. You need to be grounded in gratitude as it will help you get through life.
- Learn how to apply makeup and keep up with the trends. Teaching people how to apply makeup is a vital skill now and in the future. If you work in retail, push to get into the makeup department.
The Night Before My Wedding Self
I would say:
Love, Live, Laugh, Dance, Hold Hands, Snuggle, Kiss A Lot
You waited a long time for marriage – cherish it.
- Keep doing small things for him. It’s the small things that matter, like making Tuna Casserole.
- Live by Elizabeth Barret Browning’s How Do I l Love Thee poem:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
My Newly Widowed Self
Here is what you need to do to thrive:
- Write, write, and write. No one but you has to see what you write – not yet anyway. Hone your writing skills but keep the conversational tone.
- Get some career counseling. Start and figure out what you would do if you were laid off.
- Go back to school. I know the thought of term papers makes you want to puke but go back to school anyway.
- Trust God. I know it is easier said and done, especially when times are tough but you have to do it. He really IS your shepherd.
- Keep praying and keep writing in a gratitude journal. This will help keep your mind focused on God and what is right in your life.
- Get Back to photography, and reading. You enjoyed these hobbies before you got married, now get back to doing them again.
- Eliminate the word “survive” and “okay” from your vocabulary. Focus on thriving instead. Surviving means treading water and okay means mediocre. You need to thrive and not survive.
- But most of all:
Life is not going to get any easier. As a kid, you always knew life would be a struggle and your gut instinct was right. So no matter how hard life gets be kind to others as you are not walking in their shoes and don’t know what battle they are facing. Being kind will help keep your heart from hardening.
Remember no matter how hard the rest of your life will get:
Now It’s Your Turn
That’s the advice I would give myself throughout different turning points in my life.
What advice would you give yourself?
All other photos by Michele Kearns