My parents did a major clear out recently. They called by the other day with a file full of my primary school work, which up until this point had been gathering dust in their attic. It made for interesting reading – for me, at least! These are what my grand life goals were at the tender age of ten:
‘I’m going to get 10 A*s in my GCSES, have four children and a dog, and live in a big house.’
Wow. Short and to the point, but very revealing all the same.
So far, I haven’t achieved any of these lofty goals. But here’s ten little pieces of advice I would offer that wee girl now, over twenty years later:
- ‘Grades on a sheet are no reflection of the grade of character formation in your life.’ Do your best in everything, but most importantly, do your best to be kind. Kindness trumps achievement, always.
- ‘Doing something you love imperfectly, but passionately, is much more admirable than doing something you hate to perfection.’ Do what makes your heart sing, not just what others expect you to do, because it might just be what you were created for.
- ‘Getting something wrong is not a disaster.’ Really, it isn’t. You might believe that lie right now, but you will learn that the real catastrophe in those moments is punishing yourself and talking yourself out of another attempt. How much you will miss out on if you do that! Put your best foot forward and try again. Learn to fail forward.
- ‘Being right isn’t the most important thing in life.‘ Eating a slice of humble pie now and again will make you all the sweeter, and you’ll be a much nicer person to be around.
- ‘Sure, a big house and a fancy car would be nice‘ (no kidding!) But there is far more significance in taking whatever resources you have, and filling them to bursting with love, life, laughter and guests.
- ‘At times it is useful to be independent and self-sufficient, but it’s equally good to know what is like to receive love and care in times of need.’ Learning to receive others’ generosity requires you to let down your guard and acknowledge that you need support. Not only does this grow you as a person, but it allows others to be blessed as they give to you. Don’t rob them of that blessing by being too proud to accept help.
- ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ I wish I could repeat this a thousand times over! Learn to celebrate the beauty and achievement in others: out loud and on purpose. Make a decision that their joy will be your joy.
- ‘Think of your life like the perfect recipe, put together by the Master Chef himself.’ God has given you the list of ingredients; He has chosen talents and abilities in specific measures on purpose – all to create something exquisite. Throughout the cooking process, don’t doubt he will rustle up something gorgeous. He’s the expert, after all.
- ‘There’s a time for everything.‘ A time for tears to fall, and a time for laughter to bubble up from deep places. A time to say goodbye to friendships, and a time to build new ones. A time to lose those you love, and a time to hold them tight. Don’t run from the hard times. They may sting unbearably, but they will also shape you for the better – if you let them.
- ‘Don’t let your words and actions be governed by how other people will perceive them.‘ Instead of the question, ‘What will they think about me?’ ask yourself, ‘Is this the right thing to do?’ And if in doubt, always do the right thing.
Dear ten year old self, you are much stronger than you could ever know, and more blessed than you could ever appreciate. Seize life with all you’ve got, never stop dreaming, and always be unapologetically yourself.
P.s What advice would you give your younger self today? It might just change the way you think about your life.