Dear 20-year-old self, … ah, who am I kidding? She’d never listen anyway

Regret.

There’s so much emotion packed into 6 simple letters. Regret comes laced with grief, nostalgia, bitterness and illusions of what could have been, or as some believe, what should have been. How many times have you heard someone else bemoan, “Oh if only I knew then what I know now …”?

Have you ever really picked that one apart in your mind? I caught myself saying that recently and I could have given myself a swift kick. I know that the person we are NOW is shaped by the decisions we made in the past. It doesn’t mean we live in the past, rather we learn from it; we build on it.

We would NOT know what we know now without making those precise decisions in the past. Whether the outcome was positive or negative, you learned something to draw on later in life. I chuckle a little when I picture myself trying to impart the wisdom I’ve learned over the past 15 years to my 20-year-old self.

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I can just see her now as she politely sits in front of me in her hippie braids and long blond hair. She’s bouncing her bare feet as she struggles to mask the urge to be anywhere else. She’s undoubtedly thinking, “Who is this self righteous prude?” She smiles at me with an obviously forced grin and humors me as I try to tell her how to avoid pitfalls and heartache in her future.

The truth is – and this is another one of those life lessons – if we had someone telling us how to avoid every obstacle in life, we’d be utterly helpless on our own. We would have no knowledge to be able to draw swift reaction from. There would be no “gut reaction” to crisis.

It would be like driving straight all your life because you always let someone else take the curves for you. Now you’re driving alone and there is a huge curve coming up. You will navigate the curve with ease if it’s something you done a thousand times. If you’ve never turned the wheel alone, you’ll be searching for a good auto body mechanic in the very near future.

I’m glad I have navigated all my own curves in life even if there were more than a few accidents along the way. I’m even more thankful that I’ve learned to hold my own wheel.

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