If I was lucky enough to have a time machine that could travel all of space and time (I love the Tardis) then I would quite fancy taking a short hop back to my twenties. Twenty me was in dire need of advice. She was worried about dating, weight and jobs and all manner of things . I recently saw this cartoon in the Sunday Times. It struck a chord with me. If I were able to go back in time, knowing what I know now, what issues would I want to resolve? What wisdom would I dispense to my younger self?
First I would tell her: Don’t sweat the small stuff . Don’t spend so many hours worrying about things that might never happen and things you cannot fix. For instance you will spend an awful lot of time obsessing over your appearance and your weight and whether so and so will ever like you. Let me save you some time. He won’t. You will have and already have had heartbreak over one boy and another who cannot see past your appearance or personality. Some boys will not take the time to see what is in your heart. But that’s ok because you are the same . You too are shallow and fickle and too often judge books and boys by their pleasing covers.
To shatter your illusions you won’t marry any of the boys you were desperately in love with in your early twenties. You won’t marry any of the boys you grew up with or worked with or fantasised about . But that’s ok. If you are just a little wiser and a little more patient you will eventually meet a shy, kind boy who you will love in a way you never imagined. He will love you the way you always dreamed of being loved.
Secondly, put some effort into the area of discipline in all areas of your life. Try to engage in a regular exercise routine that works for you. Try to eat the bad foods in moderation. Try not to be so hard on yourself for how you look. Try and show yourself a little kindness and compassion. In conjunction with this stop the comparisons with other people, especially other women. There will always be others who are more beautiful, skinnier, more talented. There is nothing you can do about this. That is how life works. Try not to take so many things like this as a personal slight or another signal that you are unworthy.
Thirdly have some kind of, any kind of, plan for your life. Discover what you want to do, what you are good at and then spend time in the pursuit of perfecting it. Then you wont feel you have drifted through your life without any semblance of structure.
Along that line, when you are first married and houses are so cheap (£37,000 then) make sure you have a full-time job so you and your husband can get on the first step of the housing ladder and will not waste many years and thousands of pounds of money living in and renting other people’s homes.
Spend some daily time creating and cultivating your relationship with God before children and life get in the way. Then when they do it will have become an ingrained habit you are grateful for. He is the only one who will ever know you and love you unconditionally and you know you owe him everything.
Prioritise your time. That’s all I need to say about that really, you will know what I mean.
Another biggie now. Learn how to pick your battles in times of conflict. You will always like the sound of your voice and the last word but learn to lose the arguments too sometimes. And when you do, be gracious in defeat. Try and live by the motto “Least said, soonest mended”. You know it makes sense.
Choose your friends wisely. Those who will lift you up and not drain you. Learn how to be a good friend yourself. Be better with family, let them know they matter. Try and remember Birthdays and important dates. Work at your relationship with your Father. This will always be difficult. You will spend years feeling let down by him. You will spend more years thinking that you don’t need him in your life. But if you can ,show him some grace and allow him just a window into your life. One day you may be glad you did.
Get as much sleep as you can while you can. You will spend most of your 30’s sleeping with one eye open and one ear on alert for a child crying in the distance.
Cherish your dreams, don’t forget to embrace them. Encourage them, grow them, they are unique, part of you but if you don’t water them they will slip away from you.
Give yourself a break. You are not superhuman. People do love you and you’re doing great…..
But there will always be areas for improvement. Be thrifty and put some savings aside for a rainy day, of which there will be several. And read, like there’s no tomorrow. Broaden your horizons and the genres you love to read. Invest time in finding writers of quality who will be an inspiration to you and will help you when you want to learn the trade.
Finally, be a good mum. Tidy less but cuddle more because that is how memories are made and that is the sort of thing that will keep you lying awake at night.
PS buy shares in Apple . Trust me on this one!
PPS… Finish that book you’ve got sculling around in the drawer.
Picture is taken from Emma Koenig’s article in the Sunday Times.