As it seems to go these days, I find myself deep in thought and buried within the recesses of my soul. These moments can be vivid, acute and ever present. They can also be blurred, chronic and show up suddenly in the most unexpected of moments – a strike of lightening that shocks my reality, beckoning me to drift away for a bit and inviting me to revisit so many things: experiences, memories and lessons learned.
I could blame it on mid-life. I could blame it on the confines of the walls that have surrounded me and kept me safe over the course of this pandemic.
Or I could confidently profess that I am simply wired this way.
A wild heart. A deep thinker. An old soul.
Recently, my partner and I found ourselves in my parent’s kitchen, a place that’s most familiar. What was supposed to be a brief visit morphed into several hours. Stories from my family’s past were shared with skeptical abandon as one experience led to another then another – and more.
We all laughed, curtailed tears and played the usual improv that keeps us sane.
My eyes inquisitively examined my partner, curious if he would run out the nearest exit, fall faint on the floor or end up in the plot of ex’s – those of closed minds, cold hearts and void of soul. Some of what we recalled and revisited – none of us remembering who pulled the trigger in our conversation – sparked memories that flooded me with emotion.
The emotion was not without direction. It didn’t lack substance. It was not sad or weepy. It was not melancholy or remorseful.
It was productive. It validated who I am. It was a reminder of what I experienced, how I learned and in many ways, was a testimonial to the woman who writes this today.
There is so much I want to share with young women. I want to warn you, shield you and protect you. I want you to avoid the mistakes I made – not repeat them.
Yet the reality is, you need to live. You need to run too fast. You need to reach too high. You need to make mistakes. You need to get scraped, cut and burned. You need to bruise and ache. You need to heal and recover.
Isn’t that how we learn, gain experience and accumulate wisdom?
When I was your age, no one could have told me differently.
May your mistakes never be too damaging or catastrophic – but aren’t you invincible? Did I not think it wouldn’t happen to me or come back to haunt me?
Most experiences and lessons I carry with me each day. Some I’ve packed well while others can’t quite find a place to settle. Sometimes it takes a simple yet profound conversation with family and friends to light that spark.
I regret – almost – nothing. Maybe nothing at all.
My parents are grateful that I lived. Happy that they didn’t have to bail me out of jail. And often shocked at the woman who sits with them today – that sometimes goes for both of us!
The attribute of my personality for which I’m most grateful is the one who wasn’t afraid to say ‘yes’. The pros and cons were almost always measured, as my mental processes are strategic in nature. That’s not to say that my assessment of risk and consequences were spot on, but my intuition was.
For any female who is afraid of the following: • Being vulnerable • Falling short • Taking a chance • Daring to be different • Fearful of not belonging • Stating the facts • Finding her voice • Being poked fun of • Being herself • Trying • Experiencing • Spreading your wings
Stop. Do all of the above.
Then start seeking and embracing: • Yourself • Your needs, wants and desires • Your goals and dreams • Your tribe – and if you don’t have one, you can create one.
Avoid: • Normal, average or anyone who refers to either • Preconceived notions • Stereotypes, gender roles or generalizations • Doubt and fear
Allow: • Self-respect.• Self-awareness • Self-confidence • Self-esteem • In. That. Order.
Don’t be afraid to fly. Spread those wings and take chances. Find a way, even if others say it can’t be done. Listen to your inner voice and let her shout loudly to the world. Better yet, trust your gut and your instincts then march forward in the direction of your dreams.
As you age, it’s not the things you did that cause the most regret. It’s the things you didn’t do.
Courage is contagious – spread it.