I love this time of year. The subtle shift in the air bringing with it notes of the coming fall. The return of football season. The plethora of school supplies littering store shelves. Although I haven’t been involved in the back-to-school hype for many years now, the arrival of those character book bags and lunch boxes, bright-colored crayons and markers, crisp notebooks and folders fills me with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia.
I think back to my own first days of school. The nerves, the excitement, the promise of growth and change, the requisite picture of my brother and me sporting our new duds while shouldering our fully stocked backpacks. Aided by the passage of time, my memory of those days is largely shaded with warmth and fuzziness and although I have no desire to relive it—there are just as many awkward and insecure moments tucked in my brain’s hard drive (and likely many more that my subconscious keeps in a password protected file that even I can’t access)—given the opportunity, I would offer my younger self a few words of wisdom:
- It doesn’t matter what clothes you wear, the condition of your skin, the sound of your voice, the timing of your development. Although others may identify you with these things, they don’t define you. But the level of your strength in character, your generosity in spirit, your honesty and loyalty in relationships, now these are the guideposts with which to measure yourself.
- Don’t worry so much. Most of the imagined worst-case scenarios you lose sleep over will never actually happen.
- Have faith. All things in life are temporary, but God is steadfast. Learn to rely on Him.
- You know the walls surrounding the gym floor at those junior high dances? Yeah, they don’t need your help to stay standing. And neither do you need to wait for someone to lead you out onto the floor. Use your own two feet to get out there and boogie.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. Hidden talents and secret passions aren’t discovered by staying in your comfort zone.
- Your family and friends provide the foundation for a full life. Treat them with love and respect.
- Live in the moment. The past cannot be altered and the future will unveil itself soon enough. So wake up, pay attention, and embrace the present.
If you had the chance to speak to your younger self, what advice would you give to her/him?