What would I tell my younger self?
I was recently asked about what I would tell a younger version of myself if I could go back in time. My answer didn't satisfy me. Hence, this article.
I did an interview recently and was asked what I would tell a younger version of myself if I could go back in time.
The answer I gave really didn’t satisfy me. And I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
See, at the time, I said something about telling a younger version of myself not to care about what other people think and to focus on yourself. Sure, on its face, that might seem like sound advice. But the thing is that I know some things about the future that younger me isn’t ready for. And I know how drastically things have changed in such short periods for me. I mean, two years ago I was an overweight University student who thrived on comfort. I feared discomfort in every sense.
Since then I’ve travelled far and wide, started and continue to grow social impact initiatives with a great team lead by my best mate, have secured an elusive graduate position in a hyper-competitive field, broken old habits and – heck – even lost 30 kilograms.
That’s all in two years. As I write this I contemplate going back and telling younger me to change certain things to set myself up for success in a different way. What would I say?
Eat better. Work harder. Seek discomfort. Find your limits and push them.
I mean; sure. I could say all of those things. And they are probably things that I wasn’t doing then that would have benefited me if I had been. But then what is the point of living the experiences I have if I was already prepared for them?
What I wish I had have said in my interview was that I’d tell younger me that I would make a lot of mistakes. People would laugh at me, they would laugh with me. I’d say that the fear I had of discomfort was based on lies. I would love and, frankly, I would hate. But most importantly I’d say: “I’ll be here for you if you need someone to listen”.
So much of growing up with ambition is wondering if you could be doing things differently. It is a constant cycle of comparison against others, and unhappiness when you miss opportunities. You act out, you make mistakes, you grow, you win and you lose.
But if you’re prepared for those experiences before they come, how will you learn from them? How will they shape you into the person that you ultimately became? I fear that the truth is that you would never reach your full potential without the learning experiences that come with both failure and success as you grow as a person.
Trying to achieve things is hard. But, seriously, trying to be the best version of yourself is even harder. When you don’t accept the vulnerability that comes with inexperience, how can you grow?
So, to set the record straight. For no reason but my own conscience, what would I go back and tell a younger version of me about life now?
I’d say it’s hard. It’s rewarding. People love you and people support you. The things that you will accomplish will be meaningful. You will have a positive impact on lives. But there is no way in hell that I would tell myself how any of that happened. Because without the vulnerability of inexperience, how could I become the best version of myself?
Simply put: I couldn’t.
Going forward, I’ve learned that accepting inexperience is a tool that will help me grow in all of the fields that I’m passionate about. Don’t pretend you know, and don’t try and convince yourself that inexperience isn’t a utility.
Inexperience is simply an opportunity to experience. And that is something worth being grateful for.