“You Can Only Ever Be Yourself, Because Everyone Else Is Taken”.
Question : “If you could go back in time and meet your 16-year-old self, what three things would you tell yourself?”
NaBloPoMo posed this question, a theme for a writing prompt, earlier this week. And my brain ticked back through time, to my days of independence, freedom, security, youth, simplicity, no responsibilities and no complications.
In this hypothetical meeting, would the teenaged me realise they were having a conversation with their older and wiser self? I would strongly debate if, in fact, I am now wiser…or, did I actually have life worked out when I was sixteen?
I have to face the facts at this point. At sixteen, I lived within walking distance of a job that I loved and where my bosses appreciated my dedication. A mere ten minute walk took me to a Gold Coast beach and a forty-five minute bus trip had me in the midst of the bright lights of Surfers Paradise.
Living on Queensland’s Gold Coast was heaven on earth for my sixteen year old self; it was all that I wanted. And did I appreciate this magical life?
First point of advice to sixteen year old self : Appreciate and enjoy your life to the fullest extent of your being. Savour every wonderful moment of every carefree day of your existence. Grab hold of every golden opportunity as it presents itself and run with it. Run like the wind!
Did my sixteen year old self run with every opportunity given? Did I follow my dreams until they became a reality?
The job that I had loved, where I was appreciated as a valued employee, in a major newsagency and bookshop, was not trendy enough for me. So what if I had the enrolment forms to start a course in writing and journalism, this was the Gold Coast! I had to live the part, even if I wasn’t living out my heart’s desire.
The next three years saw me travelling from one boutique store job to the next, where it really was just a J.O.B. – spending all of my hard earned dollars on clothes and shoes, in an attempt to look the part, actually did leave me Just Over Broke!
By age nineteen I worked for the money; my passion for writing had all but vanished.
Second point of advice to sixteen year old self : Fill out those forms, apply for the journalism and writing course and give it all you’ve got! And while you’re at it, stay at the newsagents; you love it there! It’s right up your alley, you’re at home there with all of those books, magazines and writing apparatus. The pay is great for your age and they value the effort you put in. Work on your own passions, not someone else’s!
Women’s Lib had well and truly kicked in by the time I was sixteen. From memory, “burning of the bra” days were long gone but I held enough rebellion in my heart to realise that I was equally as worthy as any man, maybe even more so, in some cases. I had a mouth, along with an attitude, and I wasn’t afraid to use either of them! (My daddy taught me well!)
Not that I looked for trouble where there wasn’t any. I was actually rather placid. But woe betide any man who expected he could run my life! Which poses another hypothetical question, why was I so strongly influenced by other people’s comments, in other areas of my life, as to what I should be doing with my life?
Third point of advice to sixteen year old self : If you follow your dreams and find out later they were not quite what you expected, nothing is set in concrete; change it! Don’t ever…do you hear me?…never, ever, ever be afraid you’ll make a mistake! Mistakes, once made, are a thing of the past, they’re over, gone, finished with. Get on with life, doing what makes you happy!
Hey, I might sound like a bit of a tyrant to myself! Would I listen to me? I’d be too scared not to!
Can we go back in time and in doing so, change our past actions? Of course not! Can we learn from our mistakes? You better believe we can!
I have been blessed to have four children and each of my children have had various snippets of advice from me throughout their lives. As I recall, I have emphasised three points; appreciate what you have, follow your dreams and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but learn from them.
Even though the opportunity of advising my sixteen year old self of these things is obviously not possible in this lifetime, there are four other young souls who may have heeded a word or two I have uttered.
And as for me? I’m writing this blog post, along with many others, and loving every minute of it. I can’t walk past a book shop, they call out my name, asking me to visit, and I can’t be rude now, can I?
I’m following my dream. It’s never too late. 🙂
My advice to you, dear reader? All of the above, but most of all, be true to you!