It’s a challenge to look back more than a few decades ago, to who I was at 21. I don’t think I kept track of the various ways my life changed in that one single year; after mentally listing them, I thought it worth sharing: Finished my BA degree, moved out of the college dorm, got my driver’s license, got my first teaching job, and oh yeah—got married.
If I had the chance to fold back time in order to chat with that younger self, I’m wondering what I’d say. Would we get along? My 21-year-old self didn’t have trusting relationships with adults; I had a defiant nature and was always questioning authority. I’m hoping that I’d listen and be open to the old me. To get started on the right track, I’d start by applauding.
Getting that BA degree was a fantastic accomplishment! Never forget that it was a hard-won achievement. Remember, that even though you’ve chosen a career in education, never be hesitant to delve into diverse fields. You know how you wistfully admired those art majors, well—there’s nothing to stop you from pursuing your thirst for creativity. Go get a good quality drawing book and treat yourself to some great graphite pencils. The world is filled with great stuff to draw.
Congratulations on landing your first teaching job! You’ll discover that there are vast areas of knowledge that you’ve not tapped into yet. So, in order to help your students be curious about the world, aim to also have an insatiable curiosity about EVERYTHING.
Hooray for getting that driver’s license—your travels will lead you to a myriad of new places—never stop seeking for new sights, scenes and people; there is so much to discover. Sometimes it would be rewarding to lose the confines of the car; find ways to explore by walking around, or go get a bike. Do you remember how freeing it was to feel the wind on your face?
It’s so fantastic to find someone to love and spend your life with. Always remember that you’re two individuals with different needs, interests, backgrounds and personalities. Marriage may be a union of all those variables, but it’s not like you both get dissolved to form a new element. Also, remember this: you need to love yourself totally and without condition in order to extend that kind of love to someone else in such an intimate relationship.
Always celebrate the choices that life brings you. Life will continue to offer up limitless chances to think, ponder and decide. Along with the choices will come complex problems that demand not only your idealism and wit, but also logic. Be confident that you’ve got the intelligence and creativity to come up with some brilliant solutions.
Be at peace with your body, but don’t take it for granted: keep it well nourished and stay active. Find your neighborhood pool, find trails to hike, and most of all: Never doubt your right to dance.
Be ever mindful of your successes and strengths—keep them in the forefront of your mind in order to squelch any kind of criticism. Use them to douse insecurity and self-doubt. Surround yourself with a strong wall of confidence, so that the naysayers will dwindle to nothing. Remember number 4? You are going to deeply love yourself, right? Along with that, and lastly: Believe in yourself; never question your right to be.