Rummaging through old journals and pictures from my childhood, I stumbled on a binder full of poetry, letters, and, I’m embarrassed to admit this, spread sheets about the men (aka teenage boys) in my life. The binder holds devastating heartbreak and triumphant victories, confusion and curiosity, and page after page of emotional writing from the heart of a young teenage girl. What a gem this binder was, and it evoked much laughter as I read through the dramatic inventory of these experiences.
But this was legitimate stuff to my younger self. Reading it now, through my midlife lens and the years of learning that comes from real life hills and valleys, I wish so much that I could offer her some important insights to help her through some of those difficult teenage years. I’d tell her she was not alone, and that this broken heart would mend. I would remind her that her identity isn’t in who likes her, what size she wears, or how cute she is. If I could talk to my younger self I would want her to know about boundaries, and the importance of saying no. And I would promise her that she would love again, that good men do exist, and that taking time to grieve is important, but staying in the grief isn’t healthy. I’d tell her to make time to write sappy stuff down, but also, get outside, call a friend, eat an apple and hug her Mom.
Over a cup of coffee, or tea, or Cherry Cola, I would want her to step back from the emotion and have a good look at her life. And I’d ask her to write down her truths…. That she was amazing and vibrant and capable of so much. That she was well loved and lived a privileged life where her daily needs were fully met and she had opportunities to grow and learn and become who she wanted to be. That one day she would look longingly back on this time and smile, and that the lessons she learned through these years would inform her for the rest of her life.
And today, sitting at my computer, with this tattered binder beside me, I feel compelled to remind my 47 year old self of the exact same messages. What if we all coached ourselves like we would coach our younger self? How would our internal messages change? And if we were gentle and encouraging and honouring of ourselves, celebrating our strengths and having grace for our flaws, how different life would feel on a day to day basis.
And I suppose if we would step back and have a good look at our lives, and write down our truths today, in another 30 years we could look on our younger selves with a smile and a sense of contentment that we learned from the lessons and indeed knew what we know now.