Feeling Reflective

Or, A Letter to My Younger Self

Edith here, yes, feeling reflective toward the end of another New England July.

We’re in full summer here. Our glorious short-lived tomatoes are ripe and dripping deliciousness. Corn is starting to come in. The blueberries have been fabulous. The beach is primo. And it’s been nice and hot, as summer is supposed to be. Hey, remember, it’s going to snow soon! I try to soak it all up, all the flavors and aromas and sensations, while summer lasts.

John David and Allan Hutchison-Maxwell

Still, the days are getting shorter already, and I’m getting old enough that it makes me think about my own days inevitably getting shorter. I’m still thriving, don’t get me wrong, and just recently have even managed to corral a couple of runaway aspects of my health. All good. And I have two awesome, healthy, handsome, generous, fun, self-supporting sons (ages 30 and 27), which makes me the happiest mom in the world.


At Indiana University,  1980

But all this makes me think of what I might want to tell my twenty-something self if I had the chance. What might be better about my life now if I’d done a few things differently back  then?

So here goes. Dear Edith (or Edie, as I was known for most of my twenties),

Please consider not lifting the heaviest thing you can. You’re little. You don’t have to prove anything, and it’s going to be hard on your joints. Also, use the gears on your ten-speed bicycle. You don’t have to use the hardest gear at all times, especially going up hills.

Reflect on what you say to your elders. You didn’t invent these freethinking new ideas, and your parents and other older people might have also thought them, both back in the day and now. Go easy on them; don’t be a know-it-all.

Remember those short stories you used to write in elementary school, and the one titled “Viking Girl” you actually got paid for when you were nine? Try your hand at fiction again before you turn sixty. You might find you’re good at it.

You could think about heeding the advice Dr. Mackler [battleax old-style female doctor]
gave you when you were sixteen about staying out of the sun, instead of going 100-percent tanning at the quarry or roasting in your bikini at the beach. You’re a pale-face Celt, girl, and you don’t have the kind of skin that can tolerate burns or even tans. You don’t want age spots and pre-cancerous lesions later on – do you?

But otherwise yolettertoself (2)u’re doing fine. Keep living life to the fullest, keep telling those you love you love them (you’re good at that), keep following your dreams, wherever they lead you. It’s all going to be material one day!

Love, your Older Self

Readers: What would you tell your twenty-something self? Any regrets from those days? Anything you’re particularly proud of from that era of your life?



33 Thoughts

  1. Hi Edith. No, no scolding letter to my younger 20-something self. Just some encouragement that I should continue to trust my own instincts. I’m glad that I did not listen to either my high school guidance counselors or my parents who thought I was making a “mistake” regarding my academic career and/or personal life choices. My career path may have seemed unconventional to them, but it worked out just fine.

      1. Thanks, Edith. I thought of one other lesson I learned pretty late (in my mid 30s): Seek excellence, not perfection. They mean well, but parents and bosses are not always right.

  2. This is a conundrum. Part of me would like to tell myself to be more wild and crazy, since I’ve always been the straightest of the straight arrows. The other part recognizes the value in never being in trouble, and I like that. Somewhere in there must be a happy medium: to be less conventional and take some chances, but all within the legal limits. 😉

  3. I’d tell my twenty year old self–hang in there kid! You haven’t gotten to the good part yet! If I’d known then how much fun I’d be having in my “senior years” I never would have believed it anyway!

  4. I’d say, believe in yourself. Sure you’re insecure, but so are most people–they’re just good at hiding it. Trust yourself. And be a good friend.

  5. Oh, boy – mine would be a novella! But the highlight would be to stop listening to everyone around you and listen to yourself. And don’t try to be anyone else, you’re perfect as you!

  6. Hi, Edith! Mine doesn’t go back to my twenties, but my early thirties. I’d not done much creative writing except for poetry; so I was at a loss of where to begin. But after devouring Dick Francis mysteries, I blurted out to Handsome, “I wish I could write like him.” But I had no courage to follow up. Many years later, a friend challenged me to write and I met the challenge. I’ve done a lot of things I’d never done if not for writing. I’ve made awesome friends in the community, too. Maybe I just had to live a little longer, to develop a good backbone. Hugs!

  7. Lovely letter, Edith. I would say some of the same things, but especially the one about being true to yourself. Don’t let others’ voices override the one inside yourself (myself). We are not meant to be all the same. And, of course, I’d take more risks.

  8. What a wonderful post! Just perfect. For myself, I would probably say to follow the advice of my college professor who said that if I kept writing, in 20 years I would be a good writer. I probably wouldn’t have listened, though. 20 years! Most importantly, I would like to have known that even though none of my plans ever would ever go through, everything would work out.

  9. Hi Edith, Great post! I’d advise my younger self to take more risks and show more skin. I was a tad too conservative in my younger days. 🙂

  10. I would tell myself that it was ok not to be perfect. Jeepers- how much pain and heartache I could have avoided. I’d also remind myself that my parents were human beings as well. They didn’t exist for me- they actually had hopes and dreams, too.

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