AN OPEN LETTER TO MY OLDER SELF
Open letters are a common thing now. If you google “an open letter to my…” you’ll get a whole slew of common search terms from Google. People write open letters to their parents, their siblings, their younger selves, their exes, their friends and their bosses but what you won’t find as commonly are blog posts titled “an open letter to my OLDER self”.
The notion that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is, I believe, a scary one. The idea that once we reach a certain age our capacity to learn and grow just ceases to exist is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Honestly, I think it’s bullshit, a cop-out, an excuse to behave badly and I want nothing to do with it.
I have the profound privilege to be surrounded by some amazing older women; Strong, kind, independant, brilliant, adventurous, playful, brave, smart and incredibly inspirational. But then there’s the other group, the ones who use to be those things and now present themselves to the world as cranky, crotchety, pessimistic, fearful and unwilling to bend on anything.
Recently I found myself sitting in a room and thinking, “Oh my God. I WILL NOT end up like that”. So this, my open letter to my older self, is my attempt at cutting that possibility off at the pass, giving it to myself straight and in my own words, and drawing a line in the sand on what my expectations for my older self are.
My intention is that this be a living document and I’ll revisit often, adding insights and ideas that I believe to valuable as I walk through life. I hope they’re valuable to you too, but I also believe we walk our own paths. Maybe you too believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and that’s your prerogative. But me, I’m keeping rainbows and butterflies in my eyes as long as I can.
An Open Letter To My Older Self
I’m expecting a lot of you. I’m not going to write to you about all of your accomplishments and how proud you should because you know what those are and you’re already proud. This letter is more of a guide. I know how you like tactile action steps so I’ve got you.
These are the things you’ll remember, no matter what. These are important, more now than ever. So, no matter what’s going on for you, these are non-negotiable. I don’t want to hear any excuses, none of them are good enough to exempt you from this list.
Give people the benefit of the doubt, wear your heart on your sleeve, love freely and openly and keep finding your people. There’s no room for cynicism here. It will never serve you. People are good. Period, end of subject.
You have got to find time to play – every single day. I know you love what you do but work cannot take up 100% of your time. Go outside and throw the football, even if your back is sore! Sign up for laser tag, even if you don’t think you’ll like it. Play cards with Brent, even when you’d rather read a book.
I mean it’s kind of in line with playing but I’m giving it it’s own section. As I write this letter, you and Brent have built a life and a career out of exploring. Explore where you live, explore where you visit, explore everywhere you can.
Speak Your Truth but Listen to Others’ Too
Girl, have your opinion. I know you learned this a long time ago but it’s worth repeating. You get a say and you should speak up for what you believe. Be passionate about those things but remember that everyone has that same right. Stay flexible and open to hearing other people’s perceptions, consider all sides and do explore what things are like from another person’s perspective.
About everything. Ask questions, be inquisitive, be genuinely curious about other people, places, cultures, lifestyles and choices. Learn as much as you can, about as many things as you can.
You knew this was coming. We have “resting bitch face”…it runs in the family. But you already know you can train yourself out of walking around with a scowl on your face. Smile. Smile so much it feels a little awkward. Be approachable and kind so that people get to see you and not just the look on your face.
Try New Things
If I ever hear you say “No, I don’t want to try that” it’s going to be trouble. If you’re not doing shit that makes you nervous, you’re failing at life. There are too many opportunities and experiences to be had (at ANY age) to let this one slip. If you suck, it’s a funny story. If not, you’ve found something else you can get excited about.
Meet People Where They Are
This is a big one for you, I know. This entire letter was prompted by a single encounter with some women that you love. They are the epitome of what you don’t want your life to look like BUT that’s where they are. You still love them, they’re still amazing, they’ve lived a lot but they’re sad and THAT is where they are. This one applies to every single human you encounter. They are who they are and it’s not your job to try and help or change them. You do you, the best way you can, and let everyone else do the same.