A Conversation With Yourself

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Close your eyes and think about your 15-year-old self. If you could go back in time and give her some advice, what would it be? It gets better? Don’t be so hard on yourself? Focus more on books than boys? You are beautiful, give it a year or two and the rest of the world will also see it? I bet it would be something along these lines.

My 15-year-old self felt she was too fat in her size 6 clothes, she was awkward, not nearly as pretty or as smart as her friends. She sacrificed school and opportunities because she didn’t believe in herself or was trying too hard to be cool or popular. She was so hard on herself, and I look back and see a gorgeous young woman who was so intelligent and had such talent. I wish she believed in herself more – knew she was beautiful, was smart, was talented. I wish I could go back and tell her to be kinder to herself.

What do you think your 80-year-old self would say to you right now?
What would your future self tell you to focus on, to ignore, to celebrate?

We don’t automatically gain self confidence when we finish puberty, and we’re still pretty hard on ourselves. If our present day selves can spout wisdom to our teenage selves, imagine what our 80-year-old selves would think of us, grown women, treating ourselves in such a manner?

Take a moment. Sit in a quiet corner, or maybe hit the snooze button for a few minutes of quiet solitude. Relax, close your eyes, and envision your 80-year-old self. Don’t focus on what you are doing, what you look like, what your life is like. But imagine your 80-year-old self thinking about you at your current age. See your current life through your older eyes. What do you think she would focus on? Would she remember the stretch marks or the dirty dishes; the frizzy hair or the failed presentation at work? Or would she remember the good friends, the times you laughed so hard your stomach ached, the love you had with your partner, the early morning snuggles with your children, the perfect spring days when you enjoyed a cup of tea on the patio or the road trip to visit your cousins.

Your 80-year-old self would likely tell you similar things that you would tell your 15-year-old self. That you’re too hard on yourself. That life is more than a dress size, and way bigger than your problems. That you don’t have that much time on this planet, and you should focus more on the good than the bad. And that you should listen to her, didn’t your parents teach you to respect your elders?

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  1. Interesting! I actually think I might tell my 15-year-old self to be a bit harder on herself – a lot of the social anxiety problems I had as a teen are much worse now, and I wish I’d tried more to venture out of myself, learn to talk to people, gain some social graces, when it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as it is now. As a teen I was pretty willing to believe that nothing was the matter and to hide behind a certain amount of created ignorance.

  2. I would tell my high school self to stop worrying about whether or not boys liked me, if I was too ugly to get married, etc. I would tell myself to assert my independence more and learn that it’s okay to not do things solely to please my parents. I would tell myself to stop paying attention to what the “popular” kids were doing and how could I be more like them…in a few years, I’ll be kicking butt and succeeding when many of them are living at home, working at Starbucks, and getting drunk every weekend with their high school friends.

  3. I would talk to myself about an issue I’ve always struggled with. That is, fretting about everything too much, have terrible attacks of “What if?”, being stuck in my head. Appreciate who and what is immediate, right now. Don’t again miss out on all the interesting and beautiful of the here and now because of worrying about that report that is due, or that I look awful today.

    I am currently on a partly work/ partly vacation visit to Seattle. It’s a wonderful city with so much that interests and pleases me. I am doing quite well at just enjoying and appreciating my stay. I am very grateful that I have a job that allows me to travel a little.


  4. Oh, boy did I need to read this today! New baby, not getting any job interviews, struggling to shift the weight and worrying about money … but do you know what? My family is gorgeous, and complete at two healthy, happy boys, and I am beyond fortunate in my gorgeous husband who loves me dearly.
    I’m doing okay. The things that matter, deep-down, are all in my favour.

    Thanks for this.

  5. Really lovely. Such a powerful idea. (Along those lines, have you seen this book? http://www.dearme.org/)

    It makes me think of the concept that we say or think harsh things about ourselves that we would never say or think about a dear friend.

    I’m also reminded of Havi Brooks’ Fluent Self blog because she often talks about the idea of having a conversation with your future (and past) selves. (Here’s an example: http://www.fluentself.com/blog/stuckification/a-love-letter-to-you-for-the-moment-in-which-you-become-an-adventurer/)

  6. What a wonderful and touching post. Coincidentally, I do this in a less profound way. Whenever I look at pictures of my younger self, I think, I was so much cuter than I ever thought. So when I start to have a negative thought about myself now, I think that when I am 70 I am going to look back at myself and think, “Not bad, I should have appreciated myself more. “

  7. An excellent exercise and a great perspective to have! I’ll definitely spend some time on this when I journal tomorrow morning. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I really needed this today. I’m at a real crossroads. Mainly, I want my 80 year old self to look back and say, “Wow, I was brave and I made the right decision.”

  9. I love thinking about this. I’m 39 and have a good friend in her 60s and a couple good friends in their 50s, so it’s easy to think about what my 65 year old self would say to my 39 year old self, but harder to think about what my 80 year old self would say. I think she might say to be more patient, kind, and yet still firm with my husband. This will be the topic for my head for my next 40 minute commute !

  10. Damn. It’s so easy to look back from now to then, but I find it much harder to look back from the future to now. I’m going to think about this tho’ bec., yeah, it can’t be *that* different.

  11. I loved this. Really puts your life into perspective when you think that far ahead. A good reminder and a good mantra for every day living.


  12. I kind of just teared up at that. That was really really beautiful, and I don’t say that lightly.

  13. This is a good reminder on this Monday! It’s good to remember to be a little kinder and compassionate to ourselves. Life is way to short, and every day we have on Earth is a blessing.

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