I think all of us have SOMETHING we wish we could travel back in time and tell our teenage self.
Don’t perm your hair to within an inch of its life.
Reconsider that tattoo on your lower back.
It might not be a good idea to wear a black leather vest and pants with a black turtleneck underneath, unless you’re specifically trying to look like a 13-year-old version of Johnny Cash. (Okay, maybe that one is just me.)
And then there are the bigger things…the decisions that arguably changed the course of our lives forevermore.
Don’t date the guy your best friend likes…or she might not be your best friend anymore.
Think twice before falling in love with the boy with the temper. What starts as smoke almost always results in fire.
Appreciate the people in your life while you still have them. Love is eternal…but life itself is brief.
As for me, I can never really decide what I would do if handed the keys to Doc Brown’s magic DeLorean and told I could travel to any point in the past to change what happened…or any point in the future to see how it all turns out. If a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a hurricane in another part of the world…do I really want to take the chance of telling the Younger Me something that might alter even one teeny, tiny thing along the way? Didn’t every bit of it – the smiles, the tears, the laughs, the fears, the hurts, the pains, the sunshine, the rain - create the person I am today?
I recently posed this question to my readers: “If you could travel back in time, what is the ONE piece of advice you would give your teenage self?” And the answers I got were so heartfelt, so vulnerable, so authentic, they made me rethink what my own conversation with my Younger Doppelganger might look like.
“People didn't like me in school, I was the fat girl who always got made fun of and picked on. But I would tell myself that you are amazing and strong and beautiful and you will prevail and have an amazing life. You can't let what others say to you get you down because they don't matter…what matters is YOU. Hold your head up and be the best YOU that you can be and you will go soooo far in life. And I have...” ~Monica Dodge
“I have no idea why, during that teenage era, I wanted to be anyone but me. If it were possible for me to actually listen and take the advice, (since I took no one's advice during those years) I would tell my teenage self that I am loved...by ME. I was not content in my own skin. I was loved by everyone around me, except myself. If I were kinder to myself, if I thought of myself, the way I see my two teenagers daughters today, I would have been able to love 'me' for exactly who I am.” ~Shelly Straub
“I think if I had to pick one thing to tell myself, I would say, "You're 28. You don't have kids. You're not married. Heck, you don't even have a boyfriend. That boy you think you love now...he marries someone else. Are you okay? Still breathing? Good. Because your life is better than you even know to imagine.” ~Tiffany Dowell
“I would love to tell my teenage self simply… “You're going to be okay! Promise." ~Stephanie Stafford
Reading the brave responses of these women helped me to decide that yes, on second thought, if given the chance, I WOULD sit down for a conversation with my teenage self. And after sharing a few giggles with her about the fact that while we once thought we’d be married with kids at age 25, we’re 33 and still single…I’d tell her this…
“Remember that the way you see yourself is not always how the world sees you. All the little insecurities and flaws and imperfections you think are so obvious to everyone else aren’t nearly as visible as you think they are. You only get one shot at this thing. Be bold and confident. The people who snub you and intimidate you NOW won’t be able to hold a candle to you later! So take chances, take leaps of faith, bet on yourself, kiss the boy, go out on more limbs. Even if things go horribly awry, at least you’ll be left with a fabulous memory instead of a painful regret.”
Then I’d give her a great big hug, and tell her to throw down her expectations, throw up her hands, & enjoy the ride. Because it’s not going to turn out the way she thought it would...
It’s going to turn out better.