One of the biggest changes of my last five years came during EMDR therapy, when my therapist asked me to imagine my ten-year-old self. He then asked me to tell her she was safe and had a good life ahead of her.
This all sounds like generic therapy stuff, but I think it really was a turning point. I had been stuck in the past, holding onto my old ideas of who I was and wasn’t. It was then that I finally understood it was possible to break away and start afresh.
Every younger me seems like a different person now. Like a room of unfamiliar faces who occasionally stop by.
I don’t want to say goodbye to them, I just want to look back fondly and pass on regards. To know how far I’ve come and how much was inside them all along. I’m proud of each younger me, but I know they are behind me for happy reasons. So if they show up, I can give a friendly wave and moment of acknowledgement. But then keep moving forward on my way.
This journey has been made all the better with some help from Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Someone Who’s Been There. Here are the pieces of wisdom I wanted to share with you.
1. Salute the life you didn’t choose from the shore
3. Do everything you can to avoid regret
4. Read in your twenties… and keep reading
5. Sometimes, your choice is to build something better or let go
6. Think about the future you
“I think really hard about what I’ll wish I did a year from now. I map out the consequences of the various actions I could take. I ask what my motivations are, what my desires are, what my fears are, what I have to lose, and what I have to gain. I move toward the light, even if it’s a hard direction in which to move. I trust myself. I keep the faith. I mess up sometimes.”
7. Make life lists
“What is a good life? Write “good life” and list everything that you associate with a good life, then rank that list in order of importance. Have the most meaningful things in your life come to you as a result of ease or struggle? What scares you about sacrifice? What scares you about not sacrificing?”
“The sketches of your real life and your sister life are right there before you and you get to decide what to do. One is the life you’ll have; the other is the one you won’t. Switch them around in your head and see how it feels.”
8. P.S. Your English degree isn’t pointless
“I hope when people ask what you’re going to do with your English and/or creative writing degree you’ll say: Continue my bookish examination of the contradictions and complexities of human motivation and desire; or maybe just: Carry it with me, as I do everything that matters. And then smile very serenely until they say, Oh.”
And finally, “know that all those stories, poems, plays, and novels are a part of you now and that they are bigger than you and they will always be”.