“Life happens so fast” My 88-year old grandma said in her broken French accent. She rested on a faded blue couch in her living room. A stream of gold morning light was coming in through the cracks of the long vertical blinds over the back window. She wore a pale lavender nightgown and wedged platform sandals instead of slippers. She told me she was a couple inches taller to take on the day.
Wearing yesterday’s makeup she said, “I wish I would have lived my life differently. There is so much I would go back and change.”
It got me thinking, if I were in my eighties, what would I tell myself now? Some of it is hard to write without sounding cliché, but here goes.
Live a full life. No, really. Be present—revel in every moment.
Stop waiting for what’s next. Spend less time thinking and planning, and more time doing and feeling. Stop doubting yourself. Stop second guessing. Just act. Don’t overthink everything. Take risks.
Commit to imperfect action, always.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Their life is not your life, and you don’t want it to be. Be true to yourself and your own experience. Be aware of who and what influences you. Don’t conform to ideals that aren’t important to you.
Accept that you cannot do everything. Sacrifice what you can let go of so you can achieve what you truly want.
Don’t be afraid to change, to start over—it’s never too late. You have the power to get rid of what doesn’t fit you anymore, to tear it down and to build it back up again. You are in charge. You can change your story at any time, it’s your story after all. You decide.
You don’t want to wake up when you’re eighty and have regrets. Hell, you don’t want to wake up tomorrow and have regrets.
Fear is unavoidable, but work through it. Embrace the unknown—don’t let fear smother your flame.
Most people don’t know what they’re doing, and that’s okay. Just don’t stop growing. Let the true you, the flawed, the messy, the excitable, the uncomfortable, the inner and outer you spread like wildfire.
Don’t get caught up in the superficial. It’s not worth one second of your time.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, and most of it is small stuff.
Don’t dwell. It will weigh you down and stand in the way of you experiencing the life you deserve. It will stand in your way of making memories that will warm and fill you up from the inside.
Don’t take anything or anyone for granted. Make sure the ones you hold dear know how much they mean to you.
Be kind. Give where and when you can.
Smile, or don’t. Really, just do you. Speak your mind. You’re allowed to say no.
Don’t spend time on things that aren’t adding value to your life. Don’t settle. You are not mediocre, so don’t live like you are. Take time to play. Be thankful. Pray often. Listen. Make out more. Laugh. Make love more.
Be kind to yourself. Take self-interest—do something for you everyday. It’s not selfish, it’s vital—it’s your life.
What is one thing you would tell yourself? Start there — go and do that one thing.