I wonder, if our past selves as a child were given a chance to have a glimpse of what they’d be…would they want to be an adult after all?
I guess if I met my younger self, she would be very disappointed. – silentmight
I spent a long time thinking over this, mulling over that Douglas Adams quote I have carried around like a badge for years now, and realizing that I have friends who feel as though they have ‘nothing to show’ for their 30+ years on this earth.
And it all came out, as it often does, in a tumble of words that went something like this…
If my younger self is at all disappointed in me, it’s because I didn’t grow up to be a veterinarian who lives in Africa, has nine kids, speaks five languages, and knows how to juggle.
But so what?
Little Emily had no idea how much happier she would be once she finally let go of what she “should” be and took a chance to learn who she actually is.
So I’m sorry, my younger self. You never did become a veterinarian. You tried of course – tanked your GPA in the process and learned that you really, REALLY hated Algebra – but still you graduated college with a degree that you love and a lot of really great friends. And you’ve got a great job now. You wear t-shirts and flip flops to work, hang Star Wars art and LEGOs in your cubicle, and spend a lot of time discussing Game of Thrones with your boss. Try telling me that cat surgeries beat THAT.
No, you don’t live in Africa (though you’ll visit, twice, and it will change your life. I promise.) But you know what you’ve got? An amazing hometown that will always be in your heart, a heritage and roots in one of the most beautiful places that you’ve ever known. You’ll grow up to be a world traveler, baby, and you’ll still never love a place like you love your backyard on a summer’s evening. And you’ve got this incredible city that you now call home. A city, yes, you country girl. You’ve got an apartment, a commute, and an increased appreciation for what “rush hour” really means. But no place, not even Africa, has grabbed your heart like this place has, and you will eventually grow up to appreciate that.
You don’t speak five languages, sad to say, but you can tell someone “I love you” in four, buy a beer in Amharic, get directions to the bathroom in Spanish, follow along with the Lord’s Prayer in Greek, express gratitude Romanian, and teach passable multiplication in Kiswahili. Not bad at all for someone who still uses Google to spell the word “separate.”
And no, you’re not married. No kids. Never even held hands with a boy, truth be told, so if you want to shake your head in consternation at your 27 year old self, you go right ahead and do that. But know this: you weren’t ready. Not like you thought you’d be. I’m not sure there’s anything that you could (or should) have done to change that fact. You’re a slow burn, baby girl. A work of art, a process that takes TIME to build and perfect, and every year that you get older is a year you will appreciate for being what it was: an opportunity to know what it means to be you alone. This is right and well and good, my dearest me, so Don’t Rush This.
You are not what you thought you’d be. You had NO IDEA what you would be, who you were, or what life would really look like once you started to figure that out. Isn’t that so exciting? You have so much to discover. Don’t get hung up on the “shoulds” or the “musts” or the “have to be’s ” – just accept that you don’t know. And then go out and find those answers with all the gusto of a 9 year old who thinks she’s going to change the world.
And learn how to juggle. Seriously.