Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sunday Musings: July 20 2014

I've heard this asked before in other venues, so the Musers are giving it a shot:

Going back to yourself at age 13-17, what would you tell your younger self?

Me? ChrisChat

 Don't fight your emotions. Own and acknowledge them. Don't just listen to your parents and grandparents...HEAR them. It's true, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and rest assure everyone else around you is just as confused, scared, and mixed up. Then again, don't change one thing. To change one thing is to change your future and guess what, your future is pretty dang great!


Accept yourself. Listen to your inner voice, and don't dismiss the words that are annoying, uncomfortable, or go against what someone else thinks is right. Don't dismiss the possibilities-- don't limit your imagination.

I was totally clueless at that age, and young for my age. To be fair, I grew up in a different time -- the Stonewall riots were the year I graduated college. I was in college before I had a clue I liked girls as well as boys, and years after that to acknowledge I preferred them.

Open your eyes is what I'd say to my younger self.


What would I tell my younger self?

1. Know that there is a bigger world than the tiny hamlet you were raised in. This means that, just because you do not see writers in the houses around you, does not mean you cannot become one. Believe. Write. Write some more. Look outward and study what you see.

2. Know that just because you were raised in poverty does not mean that this is your fate. You are smart and hard-working, so many more things are possible than you can imagine. And you can actually influence that.

3. Know that you can rise above. Hardship is merely a life lesson, if you can find your way to the other side of it.

And if I could keep Younger Me's attention, I'd add: Stop wasting your nickels and dimes on junk food! Save a bit.

DAWN KNOX, author

Well, I'd say this:

"I know you find the idea of growing up scary and beyond imagining but the world isn't full of infallible adults, like you think. It's full of large children, who are mostly trying to do their best. And as such, you will have a place amongst them. You will make mistakes, like everyone else and that's fine. Better than that, making mistakes is good. It means you've tried. Learn from your mistakes and move forward. Don't see them as failures that inhibit you. See them as opportunities. In fact, see everything in your life that at first sight appears to be negative as an opportunity for good. The way you view something determines what it actually is - look at a disadvantage as if it is an advantage and that's what it will become.

Take part. Take control. And if something is not as you would have hoped, change it if you can. If not, view it differently so you see its positive aspects."

Sadly, I know the 13-17 me wouldn't have taken in a word of this!

MEG AMOR, author

What I'd tell my 13-17 year old self is to Go for Gold.

Believe you can do anything and you can.
The world's your oyster.
Take more chances.
Travel every time you have money to spare—it's more important than a new couch. 
Never say no to anything you're offered. Who knows where it may lead.
Go with your feelings, trust them.
Don't eat dairy food—it's bad for your brain chemistry
Realize you're pretty and not unattractive, like you think you are
Realize you have a good brain—use it
Apply to be a flight attendant—the lifestyle will suit you. You'll love it.
Know that no matter what you decide on, you'll do it. Flight attendant or wine maker, you can do any of it. University would have been easy for you.
Realize you're a good person. Pick better men to go out with.
Explain your horizons even more than you think you can
Know that being different is actually an asset
Celebrate your exuberance, never lose it.
People actually like you. Be confident in yourself.

Oh, the list could go on. I did all sorts of crazy wonderful things when I was younger, but I wish I'd done a hell of a lot more. I wish I'd trained as a flight attendant. Later I probably would have trained earlier as a pilot and flown commericially.

Thanks and aloha Meg

Thinking back about myself at those ages I would probably say that you should forget what other people say and just do and say what you want. Don’t try so hard, because you don’t need to do that. Your writing is better than you think it is now. Be happy writing comes easy to you. It doesn’t happen that way for most people. You won’t believe it, but you will have not only one but two published books later in your life. Though you don’t think you will attract anyone, you will actually meet the man you will marry at 17. Of course, you won’t realize this until a few years later.

Study more in college and don’t play so much bridge and hang out with your friends. You need to have a higher average to do well in life. You don’t care about this now, but it will play a part in your life later on and you will be sorry you didn’t study more when you were younger. Though you will go back to school and become a Reading Specialist when you are older and have taught for years. At this time you will also realize that what you really want to do is write and you will start your first novel there.

Above all try to look at the world and accept yourself for who you are. Right now you feel ugly and unloved, but that is going to change and you are going to have a great and varied life with a family and two beautiful daughters. Keep on your path and don’t let anyone make you feel you are any less than you are no matter who they are. Always try to see life as beautiful and appreciate all that you have.

Ah, where do I begin? That chat could be ongoing and endless!
Some things will work out, others, not the way you hoped.
Persevere and keep smiling.

JAMI GRAY, author

Me now--"Want to take your head out of that book for a second?"

Young me--"Is it important?"

Me now--"Depends on how you take it."

Young me--*rolling eyes, almost literally* "Could you be any more emo?"

Me now--"I could, but I won't, just listen up."

Young me--*making a showing of closing book* "Fine, you have my attention."

Me now--"Look, I know things have been rough--new family, new city, new school--but I promise, this weird feeling of being out of step, it's normal. Do me, well you, a favor, don't worry about being different, you're going to own that soon."

Young me--*shoulders stiffening, lips thinning into mutinous lines*

Me now--*stepping in before YM's mouth opens* "All of this...everything you've survived, there's a reason you're still here. You're stronger than you know. And that young man who makes you laugh and forget, you'll want to be nicer to him. He's going to be around awhile."

Young me--*puzzled and a little panicked*  "I have plans, they don't include guys. I'm getting out of here and I'm going to do things, go places."

Me now--*secret smile* "Don't worry you will, just not the way you think. So here's what I want you to hold on to--those dreams you're hiding about writing, having a family, trying new things--it's going to happen. Don't rush it, enjoy the journey.  And while you're out there making your mark, don't forget who you are, not who you want everyone to see, who you are. The only person who has to accept you, is the one staring back at you from the mirror."  *Goes to leave*

Young me--*anxious and worried* "Wait, can I ask you something?"

Me now--"You can ask, but I might not answer."

Young me--"Is it worth it?"

Me now--"Hell, yeah it is. Every damn moment is worth it."


I'd tell myself it's okay not to have all the answers. It's okay to change your mind about what you want to do in the future (heck, by the time you hit 35, you won't even be working in the same profession as what your degree is in, and that's okay, too.)  Don't get hung up on the guys, there is one out there for you, and he's awesome. Have fun, try new things, and live life to the fullest.

To my younger self, "Remember and never forget, money is everything. Money makes all things possible. This is not a cynical attitude or belief. It is reality. In your distant unemployed future, the Army's Defense Finance and Accounting Service will sit on your paperwork proving they owe you 3-months retirement backpay, because they can. You will become destitute, borrowing hundreds of dollars from family and friends just to survive. Because you will be unemployed and have no money you will not be able to lend a hand to your future homeless grandchildren in Hawaii who will be spending their second night in the family van, after the engine caught fire. The third night your future grandchildren, ages 2, 4, and 5 years old, along with two older siblings, will finally have a place in a homeless shelter. So NEVER, NEVER, NEVER forget, money is everything, and money makes all things possible."

What would I tell my younger self?

Keep on writing even if you're not selling at the moment and maybe won't sell anything for quite a while.  It's telling the story inside you that's important.  Besides, the only way to learn how to write really well is by writing.

I'd say to get that day job and do your utmost in it.  Never slight your family and friends, animals included.  Use your spare time to write.  The discipline you'll acquire will be invaluable in every aspect of your life.

Daydream about those wonderful things you know you are not likely to have.  Work for those dreams that can be achieved, even those that seem far beyond you at the moment.

Keep yourself open to love, and never lose the wonder and excitement of the creation around you.

At 13, I was dealing with a lot of emotions, mostly about how I could appear cool and still do the things that I enjoyed – reading outside what girls were expected to read and what I wanted to read, and writing stories. I’d tell my younger self to ignore the rest of the world and do what felt good, to reach for the stars no matter what others thought. To develop a persona that was completely me instead of trying to be like everyone else. Whether or not I listened to myself is up for grabs. Back then, being part of a group was pretty important, but so were my dreams.

Comments to myself at 17.

You are thin. You don’t have to lose weight now. Enjoy.

Love yourself. You’re not perfect, but you’re never going to be perfect. What you can be is the very best YOU in the world.

You have many lives ahead of you. Enjoy each one. Even those that seem a mistake at the time. You’ll learn from those mistakes and be able to help others from them.

People are going to love you. Don’t fear that you’ll be alone or unloved.

Don’t be afraid to try. Even if you don’t make it, you’ll learn and grow from the experience.

Working hard is important, but so is playing hard. Don’t work all the time. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect.

Oh, the places you will go. The people you will meet. What a life you have ahead of you! More blessings than you can imagine!

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at


Kim Baccellia said...

Missed this but my own stories I'd tell my teen self are posted on Dear Teen Me site.

ChrisChat said...

Thanks for the link, Kim. Something's clicking in my memory, but I can't quite pull it up.

Meg Amor said...

Argh. Left a comment and it disappeared. Anyway. In short - fabulous. So Inspiring. Great questions Chris. I love these. And love the piccie of you too. :-)

Aloha Meg. :-)

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

As I read all these comments it seems most of us are thinking the same way. If only I could have talked to myself at those ages I wonder if I would be the person I am today. Maybe having to work through these issues has made us writers. I really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts. Thank you for doing this, Chris!!!

Unknown said...

What wonderful comments to our young selves. I loved reading what you all shared.

Thanks for putting this all together, Chris!

ChrisChat said...

More than welcomed...but it's nothing without the sharing of everyone. Yes, we do seem to have the same message...hmmm, have an idea ;)

Susan Bernhardt said...

These are great comments and I agree with many of them. It is never too late to do anything. Being an flight attendant, Meg. I been on planes with flight attendants much older than you.

Money is important. There is no getting around that. That's being honest. I could make many other comments.

I've been incredibly busy I should have found the time to answer this.

I would have said, don't worry about what anyone else thinks. March to the beat of your own drummer. Study more. Be your own person.

Thank you, everyone here. Great posts.

Susan Bernhardt

Jami Gray said...

Awesome question, Chris and some really fantastic answers from everyone.

Marsha said...

Gosh y'all, these are excellent! We should put them together in a flyer to share with middle school counselors. Maybe I wouldn't have listened if I'd read all this back then, but maybe I would've and not been so uptight. These are truly wonderful sentiments.
And the thing for young people to learn from our comments? We've all survived and grown from our experiences! They'll be able to, too. Thanks, Chris. This is a real keeper. I'm sharing.

Mike said...

Well, since I didn't start really writing until age 45, I'd probably tell myself to get on it sooner!