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Around 3 years ago, I encountered this article from HuffPost where fans were asked to write down some advice to their younger selves in only two words. Giving advice in hindsight is quite easy but to do that in only two words sounds ALMOST impossible.
Well, challenge accepted!
Here is my list of 2-word nuggets of wisdom to my younger selves. I decided to break it down per decade of my life given the unique challenges each period presents.
First Ten Years: COMPARE NOT.
I can't even begin to tell you how much of my life and sanity have been consumed unnecessarily by comparison. As a young child, I found myself always looking up to my older sister who, in most people's eyes and mine, was probably the perfect child. She was compliant, gentle and most of all, highly intelligent and academically brilliant. She set the bar really high and I was neurotic enough, even as a young child, to take it upon myself to strive for that bar and then consequently hate myself for not succeeding. I heard and interpreted every compliment given to my sister as a criticism toward me and how I was not measuring up. And it's not even like I was a failure and not doing well in school. It was just that I was different from my sister, that's all. No one punished me, compared me or made me feel less. It was all me and my predisposition for self-flagellation. I wish I had known better.
Teens: LOVE YOURSELF.
It was in my teens when I began to realize that I was not your average small-framed Filipino. I started hearing insensitive remarks pertaining to my size and weight that contributed to my insecurities getting worse. I never fully allowed myself to feel fully confident in my own skin and always wished I could look different, more attractive, more lovable. I wish I had known then that it all needs to start from within and that I am perfect in my own imperfect self; that loving oneself gives one that priceless beauty that radiates from within.
I looked around me and found that my peers were getting into serious relationships, getting married and even having children. A lot of them also seemed set in their chosen careers and there I was, still trying to figure things out. I wish I had more patience and saw that we are rarely able to really control much in our lives. I wish I had known the value of being able to let go. It would have saved me much stress and more joy as I let life unfold and allowed myself to just be present in each moment rather than agonizing about an unknown future. Letting go would have gifted me with Patience which in turn carries with it a whole gamut of gifts such as acceptance, gentleness with life, courage and love.
30s: LOVE WELL.
It was in my 30s (or very late 20s) when I had my first taste of true love. I fell in love twice, got married and had my child in my 30s. This is truly a decade of mature love and I am certain that the real lesson to take to heart is to love well and to never hold back. Choose who you love and love with all your heart. Be brave and know that love should never be defeated, diluted or clouded by fear. Loving well means giving of your whole self, and though it's a big risk, there really is no other way. Only in loving wholeheartedly can deep joy and fulfillment be found. You need to go all in to reap love's rewards.
40s: STOP WORRYING.
People often ask me now why I've become so paranoid. I always answer with one word: Motherhood. Having my son brought out the Mama Bear in me to the extreme. I am overprotective and am perpetually consumed by worries. Though I have slowly improved through the years as I've acknowledged this disease, I know I still have a long way to go. If given the chance, I would tell my younger self to enjoy life and be certain that Faith is larger and stronger than fear. Perhaps with 'Stop Worrying' I could add 'Breathe Deep', 'Slow Down', 'Have Faith' and 'Pray Often'. Those are the most important elements to staying calm and finding joy in our everyday worrisome lives.
How about you? I'd love to hear what two-word advice you'd like to offer your younger self.