Sofagirl: The woman on the sofa next to me was paging through a book called “What I Know Now About Success”, as she drank her no-caffeine-fat-free-sugarless-no-choc-on-top cappuccino (seriously, why bother?) … and she didn’t have the courtesy to return it to the shelves. Which irritated the hell out of me, reading the books while we sip our coffee is a privilege – not a right. As I returned it to the shelf, I took a quick glance through to see what had attracted her fun-free-lazy-ass-self to the book.
Turns out they are all letters written by women my age (or thereabouts) to their younger selves. Paula Deen’s name caught my eye – I bet she would have told mini-her to stay away from the bigoted jokes, had she known the shit storm that would one day erupt and derail her successful career. I wouldn’t have to tell my younger self that – I was always a bit righteous about racist/sexist and hard-line assholes in general. Still am.
What I read was terrifying: the tone got me. If I had spoken my 17 year old self like that – she would have been unimpressed. There was lots of advice around following your bliss, doing something you feel passionate about – and not trying to be perfect. All of which is true, but sometimes we don’t get to choose. Circumstance makes those calls for us. Other pieces were written in lieu of primal scream therapy, they made me cringe – I would never expose either version of me like that.
Camparigirl, however, loved the whole idea.”Let’s do it”, she said.
So here we are, letter one. To the younger me: at Seventeen.
“I’m going to start by saying I like who and what I am. And changing you, would negate all the hard slog you put into creating me. So, stand easy. But – there are a couple of things I think may make life easier along the way:
– stay away from mean/damaged men. You will never make them happy. And nothing they have to teach you, is anything you need to learn.
– give problems time. Don’t rush to solve them. Give people time too. Unless they are mean (see point 1). Then get the hell away from them. Immediately.
– keep your mouth shut sometimes. Sure, what you are saying might make sense, be right or the truth. But sometimes saying nothing is the best course of action.
– but when you really need to speak up or out. Do.
– don’t dye your hair. You’ll just have to keep doing it forever. And it becomes a pain in the butt.
– do more yoga. It suits your body. Do it every day. You will be glad when you are 53.
– you’re not for everyone. Some people won’t like you. Don’t try and fathom why. It’s their movie.
That’s about it – I could tell you not to try and be perfect. But that would be pointless. You will try anyway. And everything you learn trying (and failing) will make you who I am today. Oh, and show up. Being there is half the win. Have fun.”