Had a visit from my fifteen-year-old-self today. No, I haven’t developed multiple personality disorder, I’m still the forty-five year old mother of five that I was ten minutes ago, but maybe you can identify with me. Sometimes, when I least expect it, I get a visit from the girl I used to be: shy, unsure, awkward, self-conscious, desperate to be understood. She comes and stands in my shadow, watching my every move. At first I barely notice her, but as her gaze from afar becomes more intense, I begin to feel her eyes bearing down on me. “What does she want?” I think in annoyance? “Can’t she see I’m busy?” I’ve got things to do: I’ve got to pick up the dry-cleaning and go to the pharmacy, the kids have soccer, and I’ve got laundry to do. I’ve been up since 4 a.m., packed lunches, washed dishes, fed the dogs and even went to the gym. I left her behind 30 years ago; I’m not that girl anymore. I put myself through college, pushed the pause button on my career, and then put myself on hold as I spent the next 20 years raising my children. I did it without regret and discovered some wonderful things about myself in the process. So why was my fifteen-year-old self here? Why did I continually look over my shoulder to see where she was?
It wasn’t that she needed something from me; it was that she had come to bring me something instead. It was a message: “I am a part of you and I always will be. Your success is my success. Your disappointment is my disappointment. Your joy, your sorrow, your hard work, your efforts…they all come from me.”
And then she ran over quickly to give me a hug before she disappeared. I looked at the place where she’d previously stood, reflecting. How could I have ever thought that THAT GIRL was awkward or unsure? She was smart, kind, caring, tender, and thoughtful. I felt sad for a moment that I had underestimated her and made a promise to myself to not be so insensitive the next time. I needed to see her today and she knew it. I was thankful today to have a reminder of where I’ve been, even if I don’t always know where I’m going.
Imagine for a moment that you could revisit the past. What advice would you give to your 15-year-old-self?