I’ve been asked to write a letter to my younger self. So what would I tell you at 20 that I now know twenty (plus) years later? Here goes nothing….Dear One,
Live with hope. Life will not always be easy. But the future can always be better. Regardless of the numbers on the calendar, be filled with hope. Trust that tomorrow can be better than today and next week can be better than last week. Work toward that end. Don’t let the world tell you otherwise. When there is a turn in the road, a bump along the path, or a change in direction out of your control, stay focused on what your goals and God’s vision of your future.
Take every adventure you can. Yes, go camping, hiking, rock-climbing, canoeing. Get on airplanes and travel to other continents. Explore the world as much as you can. Meeting people in different cultures will help you know who you are and whose you are. It will also help you know how beautiful other people from other parts of the world are. Even when the things you see rock your world, they will help form you into the woman you need to be.
Remember to call home on Sunday. I know, I know. You don’t really need this reminder. But, Mom needs to hear from you. So does Dad, but it’s unlikely he’ll talk on the phone. Some things don’t change. They love you more than you’ll ever know. Through thick and thin, through ups and downs, through detours and mountain top experiences, they will be your biggest cheerleader and your most trusted advisors. Dad is right next to Mom during all this, but Mom is the messenger. And, the one who talks on the phone. Text messages (you’ll know what those are one day) are good things during the week. She’ll be on email soon enough and so will you. You’ll share silly stories and cute pictures and see how your nieces and nephews are growing up.
Love the kids…and remember you’re just a big kid. Your nieces and nephews will be treasures in your life. They’ll grow up quick and you’ll find yourself being in other places. Be as close as you can. Surprise them now and then by showing up at birthday parties and graduations. Show them you love them in simple ways.
Hold your critics loosely. Whatever profession you end up in, hold your critics loosely. Their words and actions likely are not worth losing sleep over (or getting grey hair over). But, there is likely a piece of truth in what they offer to you. Be kind and don’t take their monkeys on your back.
Read. Laugh. Play. Do not to work so hard. Play, have fun, do things you wouldn’t normally do. That library you dream of having can be yours. Read books for pleasure as much as for learning. Laugh at movies, with friends, and in daily life. Play. Jump in puddles with the kids, run races, grab a nerf gun, or and be a goof-ball from time to time. Remember the kids will keep you close to silliness and sassiness. Both help with laughter and play.
Know the benefits and drawbacks of loyalty. Loyalty is an amazing trait you continue to use wisely. Remember it can be overused and even abused by organizations. When it comes to organizations and businesses, your life and direction will not determined by your title or your organizational affiliation. An institution is a business. They will likely not care about you as a person, only people can do that. They will not give your life meaning, only God can do that. They will not, cannot, and do not control who you are or what you do. Participate and work toward the mission, but value people. That is is where the greatest loyalty is rooted. Yes, that means keeping the distinction between institutions and people separate, which is sometimes a challenge. Navigate it wisely.
A few more…
Be a good friend.
It’s all good…even when it is not.
Show up. Be present. Begin with the end in mind.
That’s enough for now. You have everything you already need to make an impact on the world. Be who God created you to be in all you say and do. (Oops, there’s another one! THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE.) When you are faithful to God the next best step will emerge. The reminders above will keep you moving forward toward the path God created for you. And it will grow and change throughout the years. So let it be.
What wisdom would you offer to your younger self?