Not a letter to my younger self

 

Youíve seen them every so oftenÖ a person motivated to provide advice for their younger self.

Itís supposed to be inspirational. Itís supposed to be positive. And yesÖ Iíve seen a handful that have some pretty cool things to sayÖ about how the struggles will be worth itÖ how the challenges will turn you into something pretty fantasticÖ and so on.

Iíve got to tell you though, more often than not I donít understand it.

I mean, sure, in general I get the concept. And Iím not talking about when they slip into cliché. They provide some great insight.

Instead, Iím not sure if the advice connects with the new audience that is supposed to be inspired.

Because when I was younger, my problem wasnít so much with feeling left out. (Oh, I was left out. I felt it. And I was often quietly miserable.) More than anything else thoughÖ the problem was that back then I had zero grasp of time and life. Itís kind of an amazing contradiction really, and one for which there is no solution. (Even from a really well written letter that offers perspective and appreciation for time.)

When you are younger, you want everything immediately. You want to grow up, make your own decisions, and so on. It doesnít connect that becoming comfortable in your own skin takes time. (And experience.)

You also feel invincible. You donít understand how fragile life is and that the length of your life is unknown. (And unpromised.)

And... there isnít a true grasp of how things arenít created in a day. There tends to be little patience for allowing things to develop, or for relationships that could last for decades.

We get wrapped up in those wonderful ďif I had it to do overĒ debates, when the reality is that the only consistent things about life are that itís not always fair, it doesnít always go the way you want, and occasionally, it rains. (Hard. Thunderstorms with gale force winds hard rain.)

And despite all that overcoming adversity stuff, that time dilemma increases in importance. And thatís a thinker.

We donít all get to live to the age of 90 or beyondÖ donít get to live all of our years in good healthÖ regardless of the decisions we make. Illness and accidents and life get in the way of longevity for many. I wish they didnít. They do.

Right out of the gate, you canít promise your younger self a long and happy and healthy life.

Maybe the advice must be built around cherishing every day. (Thatís not too shabby. We do need to appreciate every day. So fair enough there. Cliché though. Cliché.)

The trouble is, time is exactly what you need to flourish and grow. It is time and experience, the scars of life, that bring you to that wonderful sense of self.

So the letter to the younger self misses the hurry up and wait realities of life.

Not sure if Iím connecting on any particular thought, or even conveying something worthy of consideration. And thatís ok. This is a train of thought exercise, sprouting from nothing more complex than an evening looking at the stars. (Or doing something else of equal importance.)

The point is, I have no way of telling my younger self that things get betterÖ things work outÖ all is well. Iím not so sure I could write a letter to a younger anyone. I have plenty of times when I want to exchange my adult card for a summer of playing outside all day, until the eveningís game of hide and go seek moves from sunlight into streetlight into ending with the call of a parent echoing through the neighborhood.

Maybe the glass is a bit half empty for me as I write these words. And perhaps I should be looking for ways to inspire and delight the next wave of difference makers. Iím sure those words will come to me, and a day with a glass half full is on the way.

For now though, Iím craving a drink from the hose and a round of ghost in the graveyard.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com