At first I thought that this was going to be easy. Boy, did I have advice to my Younger Self! Sixty years of messing up has given me wisdom in spades. Not that we ever stop messing up, but what we mess up on changes. I’ve done the youthful messing up, so I reckon I have a lot I can advise my Younger Self on. In fact, I was quite looking forward to giving a good old benign lecture from my elevated position of “been there, done that, got the tee-shirt”. In some ways, it might even be cathartic, and maybe help me make sense of it myself. And I had a captive audience – perfect. My Younger Self has to listen to me, because she is, er …. me, and can’t get away. Off to a good start. After all, in real life, no young person wants to listen to an oldie drone on. They’re so slow and pedantic, both in speech and action. Plus, they know nothing.
But, there is so much I can give good advice on – men, work, play, friends, men, family, community, self-esteem, men. Did I mention men? It’s all in my head just busting to get out. When it comes to gardening, however, she’s on her own. The rest of it will so help her to not make the same mistakes as I did, or she did – however that dynamic works. I realise that I have to begin categorising, and look at where there are overlaps, so I can present my advice in one seamless, mind-blowing way that my Younger Self simply can’t resist listening to. Then, in ultimate preparation, she can go forth and conquer the world in her own unique way.
I’m still working on that presentation. Damn thing is an eel – turns out that the ultimate advice is slippery as hell.
It’s complicated. There were some things I hated about myself when I was young, and I allowed them to hamstring me big time, because I didn’t know how to not do that. My emotional well-being soared or plummeted, depending on how these hated things were behaving, or not. When I was soaring, I was on fire and life was great. Fun, adventures, and a fab future were all mine. When I was plummeting, I was miserable, and that’s all I was able to focus on. I was in a constant state of flux. I hardly knew who I was sometimes, and I would often defer to those people who had a stronger sense of self, and change my life values, life plans, and life desires accordingly.
Short of going right back to my conception, and tweaking the recipe that made me – or even having different parents – this is the Younger Self I have to work with. This was me. Somehow I don’t think a slick presentation of advice of “do this, and don’t do that” is going to cut it. I think the words “F#ck off” might get a mention here and there. That would be the advice from my Younger Self to my Older Self.
In the end, all the shite that made up my Younger Self is still going to be there, as well as the pretty damn amazing stuff. But the shite was what mostly determined my life, and my Older Self no longer feels so confident that it knows all the answers for my Younger Self. Only one thing keeps coming through – kia kaha* (stay strong). In the end, that’s the only advice that I can really think of that might have made a difference to my Younger Self. Find that spark of strength that you
know is there, and hold onto it through the good and bad. Through all the shite, just keep hanging onto that little rod of steel that you know is there inside you for dear life. When your world is imploding, don’t loosen your grip. It’s not going to make you feel better, but it will get you through – after all, how did I get this far without it? Know that your value is your birth right regardless of how you feel, or are mocked and put down – or think you’re going to be; keep a hold of your own sense of self, even though it will waver sometimes; and your personal path through life is no-one else’s business. Kia kaha.
Oh, I forgot to mention the men. Actually, I still don’t know much about men – I just know more about me.
*Kia kaha is a Māori phrase used by the people of New Zealand meaning ‘stay strong’. It was popularised through its usage by the 28th Māori Battalion during World War II, and was also widely used to show support and empathy for the people of Canterbury, New Zealand, after the earthquake of February 2011.