Things I wish someone would have told 22-year-old-me

To my younger self,

I know that things may seem difficult, or frustrating, now. You may be impatient for your “life” to begin; you may feel cheated or betrayed by things that have happened, sorrows you have suffered. You think that you know what is important to you, and even what will make you happy. You look at people around you that seem to have everything, and you wish that you could have what they have. You know you are smart, talented, hard-working, and that you have “everything going for you”, even if you know that part is just on paper. You are right about the last part. But let me explain to you what I have learned about the rest.

1.  You live your life in the journey. Don’t roll your eyes at me. I am you: older, wiser, a better golfer, and by the way, better looking and funnier, too, so cut me some slack and listen for a bit. Patience will be one of the hardest won rewards you will earn. But you will find it, bit by miniscule painful bit. Remember when you thought you would absolutely die waiting for Christmas morning to come, or the spring thaw so you could finally get out and throw a softball with Ange? You learned to solder through those interminable waits, didn`t you? Granted, some are more heart-wrenching, and anxiety-filled, and lonely, but with the right frame of mind, you can get through other periods of waiting, too. Waiting for your first love; waiting for your first big tournament win; waiting for news on a health condition, or a case that you ran, or for a particularly savage winter to finally end. And while you wait, as many wise people have said, your life is lived, and your stories are made.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If you spend your entire life waiting, you are wasting those years, sometimes staring intently in the wrong direction. But if you know in your heart that something is worth waiting for, then wait. It may be that what you find is different than what you thought you were looking for, but the process will bear fruit.

2. Everything happens for a reason. This doesn’t mean that you are “destined” to experience or accomplish certain things. But everything that happens to you is a lesson that will serve you well later. You won`t know it at the time, and it will hurt like hell, to lose your first boyfriend, or lose a spot on the provincial team to someone four years younger than you, or find that your best friend has been telling tales told to her in confidence.

Honestly, I don’t know if these lessons only become important if certain things happen later on in your life. But I know that they are important, and that they start to make a strange sort of sense after awhile. If you have a good sense of humour (you do), you will even learn to laugh about it. People will think you’re nuts, but that’s ok. They’re likely the ones missing the boat anyway.

3. You feel things extremely deeply. This is a blessing and a curse. Life from the lens of your psyche is truly a rollercoaster. You will have choices, from time to time, to get off the rollercoaster and board a more gentle, civilized ride. I don’t know what the right decision will be for you. But for me, it was to accept the rollercoaster and learn to deal with the lows. Because the highs make it somehow worth it. And you are a creative soul, and even the lows bear their own bitter fruit.

4. You think that you know what is important to you. You might be right. But I am pretty sure you are wrong, and were wrong for a couple of decades, at least. This isn’t your fault. You are responding to your environment in the best way you know how. Remember, I know you very well. I know that when you face a difficult decision, you almost literally wage a battle inside you between reason and emotion, logic and instinct. I know every decision you have ever made, and I have lived the consequences of them. So believe me when I say: trust your instincts. Always. Even when they don`t make sense. Trust what they are telling you about you, and what is important to you. It may save you from trying to please everyone before taking care of yourself. It may seem crazy, but if your heart keeps telling you to do it, carpe diem and do it. Because if you don’t, you’ll come back around the circle again and face it again later, and the decision may be that much more difficult to make.

5. You think that you know what will make you happy. I guess you know this already, on some level. But you are prone to making decisions that will make you feel secure, and loved, and wanted, and envied, and important. Do these things make you happy, or do they just fill a void? What makes you happy? What do you do when you have complete freedom to choose what to do with your day? Use that as a guide. Hint: it involves being outside, and being around people, and the sun. Always the sun.

6. The people around you that seem to have everything, don’t. I’m not saying that there aren’t things to strive for, but you will never know the burdens that others carry. You might be able to catch a glimpse of them at times, but you do not know what demons they battle. It may be mental illness, or low self-esteem, or a history of abuse, or they may be surrounded by emotional vampires. Try not to wish that you are someone else, because that is a luxury you will never be afforded. Turn your face to the sun each day and soak up whatever happiness is available to you, that day, period.

7. If it feels wrong, don’t do it. Really. It’s actually that simple.

8. You learn from mistakes. Always. That means that you will make mistakes, because you don’t believe it until you see it. But you already know this. Remember this when you start beating yourself up for a big mistake. It’s your way, and you always learn from it, so accept it and enjoy the ride.

9. Don’t do what other expect of you, or make decision to please others. This works for some people, at least on a superficial level. It will not work for you. Why? You know why. Because you are a free spirit and you need to float on the wind, and dance in the rain, and laugh in the face of adversity. This is what makes you feel alive. Try to remember this and be mindful of it every single day.

10. Money doesn’t matter. Don’t stop reading here. This is important. You’re happy right? You sometimes barely have enough money to buy a coffee on the way to class, and you have to save up for that skirt you saw in Club Monaco last week. You have been taught that money is important and that you should feel anxious if you don’t have enough. That is total bullshit. Don’t buy into it. If you want money, go out and earn some. But don’t let it run your life.

11. Don’t burn bridges. Unless you really know that you don’t ever want to travel that bridge again. Then blow that shit up.

12. When you have repetitive bad dreams, it is because you are not listening to the universe. What is bothering you? What conflict or difficulty are you avoiding? Deal with it, and the dreams will go away.

13. Sleep. Sleep at night, nap in the day. I know that you love your bed, the silky, cool, clean feel of the covers as you slide in on a lazy afternoon with the sun shining in the window. You are happy there. To hell with the rest of the world; sleep is therapy for you. So use it.

14. You have a kind, loving, generous heart. You got this from your mom. Don’t roll your eyes at me. You know that your mom always acts from her heart and would do anything for you. You have this in you, too, and it is one of your strengths. Don’t let anyone tell you that it is a sign of weakness, because they are wrong. It will gather wonderful people around you, and it will help you identify who is not worthy of your limitless ability to love. Don’t hide it behind a facade.

15. Swing on the swings, dance in the rain, say things that might get you into trouble. Make choices just because they feel right. That is where the living begins, and that is where the greatest stories are made. And you always will love a great story. And with any luck, some day you will write it as well.



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