Last night I enjoyed reading a well-written short article in the latest issue of AARP Magazine. I will now pause while you all snicker and chuckle over me admitting to not only receiving, but reading, AARP magazine. Yeah, I know, it took me a while to admit to it. My husband and I have been receiving the magazine for about a year (yes, it is because we are card-carrying members…I like to point out I’m only receiving benefits because I’m married to an older man). I used to hide the cover when I was in public so people would think I was reading something like Cosmo or Real Simple. But what the heck, time to be honest, it’s a good publication. And even better, some times some of the articles make me feel young. I won’t admit to how many others I can identify with…
Anyway… This particular piece was written by radio host Peter Sagal, and it was a note he had written to his younger self. Now in his early 50’s, he was thinking about his life in his 20’s, and how if he could, he would send a note to his younger self about doing some things differently in life. Nothing huge that would have completely changed the course of his life, but more like tips on rolling with the punches, not being afraid, and adding something beneficial to the world, no matter how small. Most importantly, he advises his younger self to live every day like it is his last. He states “those of us on the wise side of 50 know that life will not be an endless banquet of choices.” He ends his note by advising his younger self “you should not fret, neither should you fritter. Be calm…be not afraid. And get busy.”
Great advice. It got me thinking about what I would say to my younger self if I was given the chance to drop myself a note of wit and wisdom. What would I want young me to know?
First, I’d want to offer reassurance. Let Y.M. (Young Me) know that even though life is not always easy, there are going to be tough tines, scary times, sad times, but overall it all works out to be a pretty darn awesome life.
But more specifically here’s some things I would tell me:
- Appreciate and enjoy your youth and beauty. Stop worrying about your hair or your skin blemishes or think you look ugly wearing glasses. In about 30 years you are going to look back at photos and think OMG, I was gorgeous.
- Quoting my favorite, Nora Ephron: “Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.” That’s right, Y.M., enjoy that body. Go ahead and even flaunt it some. Enjoy the fact you can eat a Reeses Pieces Sundae with your BFF and not gain an ounce. Because in the future there will come a time when the only way you can lose weight is by having the flu.
- Date more. Be a little wild. Be proud of being a good girl, and a long-term relationship kind of woman. But fit in some casual fun. Go to more parties and dress up and go to more clubs. Have a one-night-stand. Test those waters before you go off into the sunset with your forever man.
- Be more daring to try new things and seek work that makes you happy. Want to make a change? Go for it. Talk to people in other professions, take a class in something new. Don’t expect that what you thought you wanted at 17 will still be what you want at 50. And most of all, if you aren’t happy at your job, find something new. Don’t spend 9 hours a day miserable.
- Pay attention and listen to the older generation. Visit them often. Learn skills from mom, because years later when she’s not there to call, you’ll wish you had learned more. Truly listen to stories from Grandma, Dad, and your Aunts and Uncles.. and record them or write them down. That is your real life history, and in the future when the people who told them are not longer here, don’t let that information be lost forever.
And lastly, Y.M., laugh until you pee. Often. Find joy, not drama. You will make amazing friends who become family, so appreciate them. Enjoy literally every moment. Who knows what happens next after this life, so we better take advantage of the time we have here.
But don’t worry, I’ll send another note in the future and let you know. Just keep your eyes open.