Jacqueline Thomas, one of the bloggers at Carrie & Danielle, wrote a post inquiring what you’d say to your ten-year old self if you were magically able to visit him or her.
My favorite piece of advice that Jacqueline offered to her ten-year-old safe was “Don’t waste energy being nervous.” She’s so right when she notes that, “Most people are caught up in the dramatic story of their own lives, and don’t have the time to waste worrying about me. Nervousness only comes when you focus on the wrong thing. Instead of focusing on how you feel, focus on what you give.”
In my imaginary journey back to talk to my ten-year old self, I realize she had a lot of really great lessons that were easy to remember in childhood, far less easy to remember as an adult. Here’s the advice about which my ten-year old self reminded me:
1. Work and play every day.
Don’t set yourself up to work endlessly “until you’ve made it” or until the world says it’s okay to play. They go hand-in-hand, like recess in the school day. You know how tired some adults look when they forget to play? Don’t let yourself get tired like they have. Play.
2. Every single moment is packed with potential.
Don’t stop waking up with some inkling that today might be really awesome in some unexpected way. Don’t stop looking at the day ahead as not being nearly enough time in which to fit all the Super Exciting Fun Stuff that’s bubbling around in your head. As a kid it was easy to be excited about now and tomorrow and yesterday all at the same time. Hang on to that.
3. Believe in the fantastic.
Believe in Santa, and the Tooth Fairy, and in a giant rabbit that shows up in the middle of the night and leaves you candy and little presents and somehow ties it all in to a holiday celebrating a deity. Believe in wishes on shooting stars and the idea that you might just be the next great author, singer, fighter pilot, actress, professor, dog resort owner, computer genius, lawyer, paper frog maker. Just because no one before you did it, doesn’t mean you won’t. And the believing is half the magic, half the fun, and half the battle anyway. So believe, regardless of what others say. (The best things that happen in life are the ones that leave you breathlessly saying, oh my gosh, I just knew it was possible!)
Even if it’s in the middle of the outfield when you’re supposed to learning how to play T-ball (yes, that happened), or even if it’s right smack in your own front yard where all of the neighbors can see (yes, that too), or even if it’s up and down the hallways of your own house for hours on end until you’re sweaty and a little giddy and you have to take a bath before bedtime. There is no bad mood stronger than a really good song and an unabashed dance session.
5. Be the Bean.
You’ll use words that your peers will find quirky and odd. You’ll insist that you can be a CSI Medical Examiner and a computer whisperer and a lawyer and a can-do-ologist long after you’ve reached the point in adulthood where others tell you “reality” should be a factor in your dreams. You will forever relate to the Curious George cartoons and the Amelia Bedelia books, and reading Calvin & Hobbes will always be an adventure. You will have an intimidatingly accurate memory that will allow you to get away with so much less studying than the average student that you’ll assume you must be missing something even when you’re not. You will fall a lot. In public. In front of the boys you like and the authority figures you hope to impress. You will be oddly and uniquely and exuberantly different, and the world will welcome you for it in surprising ways. So when the obstacles around you make you feel like you “should” be something else, go ahead and trip and flail wildly while quoting the lyrics to a song no one but you remembers and then get up and write a poem. Because you’re The Bean, and that’s what you do.
What about you? What conversation would occur between you and your ten-year-old self? What advice would you have for the child-you, and what advice would the child-you be eager to give the now-you? (And would you listen?)