21 pieces of advice I’d give my younger self

At a recent client event that my company had the opportunity to help produce, more than 700 women filled a ballroom and were asked a simple but profound question: If we could go back in time and give advice to our younger selves, what would we say? It sounds simple enough, but I think we can all attest, our lives might be significantly different if we had even a small kernel of wisdom then that we do now. And, therefore, what we would say, if we could only say one thing, seems incredibly important.

At a recent client event that my company had the opportunity to help produce, more than 700 women filled a ballroom and were asked a simple but profound question: If we could go back in time and give advice to our younger selves, what would we say? It sounds simple enough, but I think we can all attest, our lives might be significantly different if we had even a small kernel of wisdom then that we do now.  And, therefore, what we would say, if we could only say one thing, seems incredibly important.

Here are a couple of the pieces of advice that the attendees shared:

Trust your gut. It is right 99.9% of the time.

Love yourself as you are. You become more 
confident when you embrace your unique qualities.

I enjoyed reading these, as they faded in and out on the large screens. I took them in, and then after the event, honestly didn’t think too much more about them. 

Less than a week later, David and I watched an old Walt Disney movie called The Kid. I’d never heard of it, and it was on a recommended list of movies to watch to accompany a book David’s reading, so we popped it in after the kids went to bed. 

This was the fourth or so movie in this list that we’d watched, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t make it through most of the other ones, so I didn’t have high hopes for my ability to stay interested – or awake, for that matter – in The Kid. But minute by minute, as much as I wanted to turn away, I couldn’t. 

The Kid stars Bruce Willis who plays Russ, an arrogant, unloving, harsh but wealthy image consultant. He operates in a high-paced environment, is unforgiving in his criticism of others, and is turning 40 living what seems to him like the American Dream. Enter Rusty, Russ’s seven-getting-ready-to-turn-eight year-old self, who shows up and is, Rusty believes, a hallucination brought on by stress. As the film progresses, we learn why Rusty has come to visit Russ, and we get to watch as (spoiler alert) Russ’s life is transformed by remembering who he was as a child and stepping in to help that person out. As a result, Russ becomes the person he always dreamed of being: a fulfilled man, with a family and a dog, doing something he is passionate about.

After the movie ended, it was nearly midnight, and ordinarily I’d be out for the count, but instead, I couldn’t stop thinking about Rusty and Russ. I was struck pondering what my life might be like if I were able to go back and lend a hand (and some heart) to my younger self in a pivotal time, like Russ did for his child-self. 

And so, before I knew it, I was jotting down things I might say to Jamie, age 8. They rolled off onto the pages of my journal as fast as I could write them. 

  1. Things will be hard – very hard – at times, but you will have God with you. All you have to do is call His name. You can cry to Him and He will hear you. He won’t ever hurt you, and He will never leave you.
  2. You are so beautifully special. Your gifts, that only you have, are tucked inside you, waiting for you to explore and discover them. You must use them.
  3. Hold tight to what is right. It will seem much easier to blend in by going with others’ flow, but don’t be afraid of disappointing people. If you face your fears, they will dissipate, and you’ll grow stronger.
  4. Protect your heart. Guard it like treasure and do not leave it unattended. Very, very few people in your life can hold what you have in your heart with love and dignity.
  5. Just because you feel lost and misunderstood doesn’t mean you are. You are the daughter of the most High Priest. The seed of the Spirit is planted within you. It is your most rare and precious gift and offering to the world.
  6. Your body is a temple. A sacred home for you here on Earth. Look upon it with eyes of love. Be gentle and tend to it. Listen to it. Protect it.
  7. There is no one who can fulfill the wholeness you seek. That is only provided by your relationship with and proximity to God. Talk to Him, and He will tell you who you are.
  8. People you love will disappoint you, but try to understand that we are all broken in places. There is no perfect love on this side of heaven.
  9. When in despair, do the next, right thing, and it will lead you out.
  10. Stay in the light. If you sense darkness, it is real. 
  11. You must rise above the weight of your emotions, as an act of will. Do not always trust them. Instead, seek the truth. Be still and wait, and the truth will reveal itself.
  12. Try to identify what hurts and don’t push it away. For one day, you’ll be my age and have walls you’ll have to break down because you were too scared to face and process pain.
  13. Your mom and dad are simply people. They are doing all they know to do. 
  14. You are good without having to be perfect. Perfection is an illusion.
  15. There is such a thing as love at first sight. This is another gift waiting for you in your life.
  16. You’re stronger than you think you are. One day, you’ll have a soft heart made possible through your strength.
  17. Joy can exist amid the bad. Train your mind to see beauty and everyday miracles. They are everywhere if you look to find them.
  18. It will be okay in the end.
  19. When you are at the bottom of yourself, do not fear. This, too, shall pass. You were meant to live. Rest in the knowledge that, as the saying goes, if you have a pulse, you have a purpose.
  20. Do not hurt others because you hurt. Love can sometimes look like silence or walking away. Love forgives and seeks forgiveness.
  21. Forgive yourself. He wipes away all your wrongs and makes you clean as snow.

At one point in The Kid, Rusty says to Russ, “I understand now what you do {for a living}. You help people become someone they’re not.” Through Rusty’s childlike observation, Russ’s hard heart began to understand what had happened to him over the years. Through being bullied at school, his mother dying, and his father ill equipped to be a single parent, Rusty learned to survive by clothing himself in personality traits and behaviors that would allow him to rise from the rubble of his life. Fast forward to age 40, and Russ had lost himself, his true self. Only by revisiting himself as a child was he able to empathize and help protect and fortify himself during a season where he lost his innocence.

At what point in your childhood would you have benefited from the angel known as “you now” intervening, offering words of love and of encouragement, and extending grace to that person for the walk you know lay ahead? It is an exercise worth taking – not only for you, but for your children. An entire family tree can change through the act of one person within it. 

Me, around age 8

4 comments
  1. Jamie, this is my favorite entry yet in your blog. It’s tender and wise. God is teaching us something true in every season and taking time to articulate what we’re learning helps us and connects us. Thank you for these lovely gems— I am sure they have been polished the tumble of life, which is a good lesson in itself!

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