Two Words: What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?

Welcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, the day I share something I’ve learned in the labyrinth of life.

Last week, social media Jedi Kristen Lamb shared a picture on Facebook. It was originally posted at Dion Vincent‘s page:

Write a note

The comments were fabulous, full of wisdom and wit. Some of my favorites included:

Lighten up. – Naomi Blackburn

Hang on. – Laura Gokey

Dream Bigger! – Cara Putman

Buy Apple. – Joan Rhine

Be yourself. – Inge Zijl-van Den Berg

David Arnold. – Vickie Arnold

Love yourself. – Joelene Coleman

Dot Com. – Daniel Stanton

Be happy. – J Keller Ford

Calm down. – Adrienne Jones

Now what? – John Vitz

Wake up! – Curtis B. Walker

Choose love. – Julie Glover (although my first response was plastic surgery–as a joke 😉 ).

Given more time to think about it, I have several tips in two words I would give to my younger self. Here are a few:

Choose love. Honestly, it’s easier to choose selfishness, arrogance, or apathy when dealing with others. But the better path is to choose love. The person who mistreats you may be lashing out from a place of pain or perhaps they don’t know how they’ve hurt you. The stranger in your midst may benefit from an encouraging word or a kind gesture. The family member needs your affirmation and compassion. Choose love.

Write stories. I’ve been writing since elementary school, but mostly poetry, journaling, and song lyrics–snippets of writing here and there. The thought of being a novelist was very appealing, but for the longest time, I didn’t imagine that I had it in me. I penned my first novel after age 40. If I could, I’d tell my younger self to give it a shot earlier, to believe that writing stories–good stories–is something I really can do.

Trust God. This isn’t a religion blog, but it’s no secret that I’m an out-and-out Christian. My faith provides guiding principles for my life and a higher power whom I rely on in times of both joy and sorrow. My younger self wavered in her faith, though, and I’d like to tell her to trust God. Just to know that He’s there and cares about whatever is going on in your life, that He will pull you through.

Stop comparing. The times in my life when failure arrived like an Acme anvil landing on Wyle E. Coyote’s head at the bottom of a cliff, those were typically the times when I was trying to live up to an ideal based on comparing myself to someone else. I judged my worth–be it appearance, career, motherhood, etc.–by looking at someone more successful and wondering why I couldn’t be like that. Little did I know that others saw certain successes in my life and envied them. To which I’d like to say to my younger self, stop that already! What a waste of time. I have my talents, they have theirs. Once I dropped the comparisons, I became far more content with myself and the strengths I possess.

Forgive. Often. I once asked a wife happily married over 50 years for their secret to success. Her answer? “Forgiveness.” She said that she and her husband had forgiven each other more times than she could count. It’s inevitable that living with someone day-in and day-out, they’ll annoy you or let you down at some point. I don’t think my younger self was prepared to forgive others as often as I needed. In truth, I require plenty of forgiveness from others–you know, since I haven’t yet worked out the being-perfect thing just yet. Learning to forgive often helps to foster peace in relationships and keeps bitterness at bay.

Make progress. Okay, that’s not really a two-word message to my younger self. It’s my mantra for A Round of Words in 80 Days. That said, this was not a week of great progress, since my father was in the hospital and I spent quite a bit of time there with him. Even so, here’s what I accomplished.

ROW80 Update

Finish YA contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, by completing three chapters each week. Nope. Didn’t happen.

Take Short Stories 101 course from Young Adult RWA. This week’s assignment was to expand the 1,000-word story I wrote last week. I dabbled a little, but I didn’t get much on the page. I will be hitting that hard these next couple of days.

10 9 fiction books and 2 1 nonfiction books. I did read more of A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers, but I haven’t finished. However, I expect to knock it out this week and get crackin’ on the next read in my pile.

So what two-word message or messages would you give to your younger self? And how was your week?

41 thoughts on “Two Words: What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?

  1. What a lovely post, Julie. l’d tell my younger self some of the ones you listed…write stories, love yourself, be yourself (my mantra in my teen years), hang on…
    and…Be nice (she was, but just to remind her that those bullies won’t always be around and she’ll have an even greater support system)
    Have fun
    Don’t worry

    1. It’s cool when you realize how much you can actually say in two words. For example, your “Be nice” and “Don’t worry” cover a lot of ground. Thanks, Nancy!

  2. Ditto what Nancy said about the post. So many choices. So few words. I was initially going to go with “be yourself.” But, that doesn’t address the inner angst I suffered in my not-good-enough days, nor the root cause.

    In order to be myself, I had to reconcile the “outside world me” with the “inner me.” I first had to learn to…

    Know yourself

    Trust God is highest now. But, I would not have seen that as the younger me. Yes. I had issues with the religion in which I was raised. I’m glad I’m over that.

    1. “Know yourself” is a great one, Gloria.

      And I think a lot of people (me included) struggled with issues with our religion and learning to distinguish that from faith in God Himself.

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. I had my 2-yr blog anniversary this past week. I thought I was a bit crazy when I started two years ago, but my need to push forward in this crazy journey couldn’t be stopped, lol. I only wish I had listened sooner. “Know yourself” is a great one, so is “own it” I tried to ignore my dreams for a long time. I kept telling myself I wasn’t capable, but we are all capable if we own it and do it. Thanks Julie.

    1. Congrats on the 2-year blog anniversary! “Own it” is a great one too, S.J. We have to own both our mistakes and our ability to pursue our dreams–to carve out our own path. 🙂

  4. Great messages, Julie! Thank you for sharing with us.

    My two-word messages:
    Go outside.
    Think big.
    Enjoy life.
    …And I want to steal your “choose love.” 🙂

    Have a wonderful week!

    1. I just love that you included “Go outside”! What a great one.

      And steal away! I like having everyone sharing their wisdom here, and we can borrow some insight to apply to our own lives.

  5. I would tell my younger self to “Stand strong,” especially in High School. The need to conform was so oppressive that I did not know there were others who thought like me, and had my same interests, until I started college. Ironically, I met women who accepted me as I was, in my sorority. I KNEW I’d found MY group, when we all started talking about heavy metal music and how other girls looked down on us for following the heavier bands (rather than the popular 80s hair bands). Almost 25 years later, they are STILL some of my closest friends, but I would not have been open to meeting them, had I stayed in my “prescribed” box.

  6. You have some great two-word missives! I actually used to tell myself some of these (particularly “trust God”) but telling and doing were very different things! That said, a couple more I’d try: “You’re worthy” and “Don’t judge” (yourself or others).

    Prayers and good thoughts for your dad!

    1. Ha! Telling & doing are ALWAYS different things! :p

      “You’re worthy” is beautiful. Sometimes we just don’t feel that deep inside, but it’s important to know our own value. Thanks, Jennette.

  7. The one I posted when I posted that picture to my timeline was “stop quitting.” I’ve started and quit so many things in my life. If I had just stuck with something, I think I would have done great at it. This is for my dogged pursuit of writing as a career. 🙂

    1. Continue to be dogged, Catie! In fact, I’ll just be your “no quitting” friend. If you ever feel like not sticking with it, call me up. 😉 You’re too talented to give up! Thus, “stop quitting” is terrific advice.

  8. “”Let Go.” Let go of fear. Let go of anger. Let go of resentment. Let go of regret. Let go of people who hold you back. Let go of your preconceived notions. Let go of the bad memories. Just. Let. Go. I have a tendency to hold on to the things that can be toxic to me like anger, resentment…. Letting go isn’t always easy, but it’s so much more worthwhile for life.

    As for my week…I started a new job! I’ve been getting used to the travel and having a set schedule.

    1. “Let go” has so many applications. I might want to get really practical with my younger self, though, and say: “Let go…of that jerk you’re dating right now.” LOL.

      Congrats on the job! Hope it all goes well, Kitt!

  9. I liked all of your two word messages to that younger self. Mine would be: “Write more!” and “Trust yourself!” I always put survival ahead of writing — at least until I retired. So now, every day begins with writing. What an inspirational post — in spite of all else going on in your life. I hope your father improves in the hospital and life returns to whatever ‘normal’ is for you!

  10. Right now, I’d say, “don’t drive.” When I was a senior, I got in a car accident that ruined my back for life. My back takes longer and longer to get back to normal each time I hurt it. Going on three weeks this time around. Additionally, there was some soap opera worthy drama that went along with that crash. It was my only accident I had as a teen. It was just the worst all around.

    I think you are doing well with your goals. You definitely seem to have a handle (though a bit of a slippery one this week) on them. I hope this week works out a bit better for you.

    1. Oh my goodness! How frustrating about your back. I hope that you feel better soon!

      My handle on my goals is certainly slippery at times. We’ll see how this week goes, but I have high hopes!

    2. Glorla, lf someone had told me not to drlve as a teenager, l’d have taken them serlously. Flrst, l hate drlvlng. Second, l’m not good at lt and was told so by drlvlng lnstructors even after l got my llcense. 3) also as a teenager, l was ln a flre and for some reason, was really afrald to drlve afterward so l shouldn’t have been drlvlng, ever. l would add to “Don’t drlve. Take cabs.” That’s how l met one of my best frlends.

  11. This is such a great idea, and so hard to distill advice into two words. For me I would have to go with something along the lines of “Be You” or “Trust Yourself” because I wasted too many years trying to be what I thought other people wanted or expected me to be. Or perhaps “Keep Writing” because I stopped for years for the same reasons.

    1. “Be You” reminds me of the quote (often attributed to Oscar Wilde, though I haven’t been able to confirm it): “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” It’s fabulous advice! We really can’t be anyone but ourselves, but we somehow still resist it at times — not recognizing that the world could use a good, unique you. Have a lovely week, Alana!

  12. Find yourself – i would put first until one does how can one build on it – took younger self quite a while to acheive
    be yourself – takes courage to stick to principles esp. if against the current
    Use imagination – not just for creative stuff – but to enable one to understand other’s traumas and worries
    expect nothing – then one is plesantly suprised at all the good
    life’s unfair – learn that early and then one can get down to enjoying life
    world’s wonderful
    look around
    miss nothing
    enjoy all
    or are those last cheating:)
    laugh lots

    1. “Use imagination” – I love that one! One of my favorite quotes is “Imagination is more important than knowledge” – Albert Einstein. 🙂

      “Life’s unfair” is one we parents TRY to teach our kids. But it’s hard to accept that reality. You have lots of good ones, Alberta. “Laugh lots” is going on my list too!

  13. I saw this this week (somewhere….) and posted a few replies. I love that you turned this into a blogpost, and I may just do the same! =)

    Some of mine are :

    That’s abuse. Well into my 30s, I didn’t know this, and couldn’t recognize when someone I loved and wanted to trust was abusive. I figured I has somehow caused the attack. Knowing it for what it is – a deeply wounded person acting out that brokenness – not only allowed me to learn how not to give that power to parents and siblings. It has made me a far better (and sweeter) mom of children who are a lot happier and far less broken than they might have been. And that, of course, makes my life sweeter, because happy kids=happy mom.

    Rise above. Yes, I was abused. No, that doesn’t need to define my life. I can choose something other than the bitter brokenness that perpetuates that cycle. And, by doing so, I take some of the power from that type of interaction, and give it to more positive, loving ways of being – and that makes a better life for me, and a better world all around, if enough of us can.

    Value passion. When I was growing up, many of the things I loved most, the things that fired my imagination and spoke deeply to my soul, were scorned by my parents (see the first phrase….). This was especially true of writing, since I wasn’t interested in journalism, and Star Trek. My mother delighted in ridiculing Star Trek, and forbade me to watch it. Decades later, it’s still a driving force in my life, and I am still writing, but there were a lot of guilty and furtive years, and a lot of angst I didn’t need to have.

    Incidentally, I carry this forward to my own children. Fashion, technology,motorcycles, Minecraft, and Monster High may not be my favorite things, but they are all passions for people I live with and love dearly. My own mother placed huge wedges between us when she scorned my passions and intimated that I was less worthy and desirable because of them. Eventually, those wedges led to fractures that destroyed our relationship (Again, see the first phrase; it didn’t happen in a vacuum).

    I don’t want to do that to the people I love, so I accept their passions, even when I can’t fully embrace them myself (I have very little fashion sense or interest; Minecraft makes me dizzy and feel sad for the animals which are harvested; I fell off a motorcycle once, and have no wish to repeat that experience…). I get this awesome reward, too – kids and a husband who share their passions, and accept my besottedness with Enterprise, Spock, Paul Simon, the color blue, and spending hours daily tapping on keys or frantically scribbling in notebooks…

    I’m sure there’s more, but I think I’ve said almost a blogpost here, already! I think I’ll copy, paste, embellish and expand.

    I am so glad you posted this, Julie – thanks, and may health and happiness return full-force in your life. To my mind, being with your dad was the best path, and the writing will still be there when you can get back to it. =)

    1. Good for you! I know some women who have walked that difficult road. Thankfully, they were strong enough to also “rise above.” 🙂

      And “passion” is like a buzzword with me. I’ve described myself in one word as simply “passionate.” I’m a skeptic by nature, but when I really believe or feel something, I’m all in.

      Thanks, Shan!

  14. I was super naive as a teenager, so that kinda covered the happy part. LOL. But based on my diary, I’d tell myself, Don’t worry. I stressed too much about whether or not I’d ever have a boyfriend. Great post, Julie. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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