Sis, you know I wish you favor, blessings and breakthroughs, right? So, when I had an epiphany recently, that we carry around a wounded child, a pissed off teenager and a functional adult within, I felt compelled to write this post. Parenting younger you is my attempt at keeping the functional adult in the driver's seat; because you know, you owe yourself a lot. These are the main things I'd like you to remember:
God comes first
Walk with God. That is your game changing strategy. This should be your daily mantra. That's all.
Everyone's winging it
When it gets right down to it; no one really knows what they’re doing. It's trial and error for the most part. So approach learning and doing with openness and confidence. Part of confidence is accepting the unknown. As Dory (from Finding Dory) says: ‘just keep swimming’.
Seek approval from your 5-years-older self
Imagine a miniature version of you, standing on your right shoulder, but 5 years older: how would she feel about how you’ve spent your time today? Would she shake her head with disappointment or nod in approval?
Many things you do each day feel productive, but they don’t really move the needle. Things like clearing your email inbox, toying with food ideas for family dinner time or watching countless hours of 'A Sip with Issa Rae' for creative inspiration. Equally, there are plenty of things you don’t do that you really should - like taking care of your posture, eating healthy - consistently, exercising regularly, reading more...you get the drift. So, even when doing mundane tasks, picture the older, miniature version of you. This will go some way towards helping you to look after your longer term interests.
Put yourself first, occasionally
Give yourself what everybody else is requiring... your time, your heart, your love, your kindness. Allow yourself to transition through life mindfully. Do things you enjoy, regularly: be that music, creating playlists or exploring the works of various authors. Read as often as you can. Allow yourself to be absorbed by the magic of fictitious worlds. Your life will evolve ever so beautifully — spiritually and behaviourally — and gradually affect every other aspect of your existence.
Wear your big girl panties
Handle your business babe; no matter how tough it is sometimes. Show up for yourself and do the hard work. Develop a thick skin but don't lose your softness. Like, moisturise spiritually. Keep your self esteem and confidence as these are invaluable life hacks.
Take care of your (inner) self. You don't have to tell the whole world (IG, FB) everything all the time, keep somethings quiet to give yourself a chance to properly evaluate and self reflect. There’s something about growth in private that’s healthy, until you feel ready or strong enough to share. Also, don't stay (or go back) to places where you don't feel welcome. Read the room. Often, people's body language will tell you everything you need to know. Observe and adjust accordingly. Its poor spiritual hygiene to give everyone access to you.
Lend a hand when you can
Help family, friends and colleagues for no other reason other than to help them. Hold your sister's hand when she needs it. Work with your friend to polish her resumé & job application. Give your co-worker a hand when they’re stressing about work. Shut up and listen actively when someone's ranting about a difficulty they're experiencing; don't speak, unless it improves the silence. Helping other people, at no benefit to yourself is one of the easiest ways to like the person that you are.
Great friends are gold
In the course of a lifetime, only a few people will truly 'get' you. And some of those won’t stay around either. So look after those who do. It’s worth knowing that friendship develops in surprising places, at every age and stage. Stay open to it. If you need a reminder, read a past blog you wrote on Friendships: Deep & Wide.
Babe, I know you hate this, but I promise you - even a little goes a long way. Move your body. Keep it consistent. I once heard an old man on a train say to his partner 'feeling old is just feeling tight'. Keep stretching. Listen to your body too - its a truth teller.
Be food for thought to the growing mind
Challenge yourself to a higher purpose other than that which serves only you. I know I already said this but -- read a little more so you can not only educate yourself, but others coming after you like your children, nieces, nephews and the community of young adults you're connected to.
There's a place within you, that you must keep inviolate.
Only because that may be the only place you need to go to when you meet God. That place has to remain pristine and clear within yourself. As explained by the great Maya Angelou (may her gentle soul rest in perfect peace) in this interview.
On work, in general
In your lifetime, you will work with all sorts of people: geniuses and morons, quick-witted and dull, bighearted and narrow. Remember, the level of labor isn't the measure of yourself. Don't place the security of your job above the value of home. Whatever the work is, do your best to do it well—not for the boss, or for praise, but for yourself. YOU make the job; it doesn’t make you. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are. Actually, while we're at it: f--k 'imposter syndrome'! It’s ok not to be the smartest person in the room. You don't have to feel scared, foolish or hold back. It's actually a good thing because if you’re the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.
'No' is a complete sentence
Saying 'yes' when you really want to say 'no' is a form of self betrayal. You aren't obligated to give anyone access to your time and energy when you don't have the capacity or desire to do so. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you selfish. It doesn’t make you ungrateful for the generosity you’ve received. And no, it doesn’t shut the door on serendipity and opportunity. In case you need more reassurance refer to this quote by one of the greats:
'No.' — Rosa Parks, African-American Civil Rights Activist.
Getting honest with yourself is the best form of self-protection there is. Don't imagine that hyper-vigilance will take care of this — that if you think through it enough, and second-guess yourself often, maybe you’ll be able to avoid the heartbreak. The absolute honest truth is that when you are actually on the wrong path in life you know the entire time — when you finally have no choice but to come to terms with it, it materialises. So reflect often. Give that to yourself, and go forward with faith, with knowing that you can trust yourself, because you are no longer going to lie to yourself — even if the truth is messy and inconvenient.
On being 'too' humble
Sis, I feel like I have to keep reminding you about how hard you've worked to get here. You might be morphing into a skilled sailor in these rough seas of life. Stand tall girl! Keep your head up! Remember that you can be humble while also feeling qualified and deserving. It's the difference of gratitude that separates confidence from arrogance.
Forgiving someone who is not sorry is hard. Granted, some people are not sorry, and they’d rather not lie, so they don't apologise. What they don’t teach you about forgiveness as a child, is that it is more for you than it is for the other person. Forgiveness is not, 'I am OK with what you did.' It isn’t even, 'I accept your apology.' It is, 'I am not going to hold this against you anymore.'
So, Fiona my love, forgive. Even when you're sure you deserve an apology; because forgiveness doesn’t free the other person; it frees you.
Save your money
When you pay yourself first (after your tithe obviously), you’re mentally establishing saving as a priority. You’re telling yourself that you are more important than the electric company or the landlord. Building savings is a powerful motivator that serves future you — its empowering.
Life isn’t always black and white
As *Barack so aptly put it (and I paraphrase): '...the idea of purity and the illusion that you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff: you should get over that quickly! The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.'
*I like how in my mind, we're on a first name basis. Lol.
You're more than a mommy
Feel free to balance your identity and ambition with your relationship, children and work. If writing brings you joy - do it! If exploring how to become a music connoisseur floats your boat - do it! And by God, I won't allow you to feel guilty about this. Just do it. The soul always knows what to do to find these things, the challenge is to silence the mind.
Lead with empathy
This one's a tough one, because it’s so much easier to approach life with a single lens. Your lens. Challenge yourself to first be the supportive friend before you expect support from your tribe of friends. Be the loving partner before you need love. Write the article you wish you could read before you ask for an audience for your blog. Create the product you wish you had before you ask for the sale. Strive to give value before you ask for value.
A passion for Oreo milkshakes, Baileys and fries has consequences
'Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work effects how they value it.' These wise words from a book called Show Your Work by Austin Kleon were an eye opener when they recently resurfaced via Readwise. Apply this to your writing. Someone out there will appreciate the way you tell it.
False Evidence Appearing Real
In some situations, the fear won't go away, so you'll have to do it afraid. I'm telling you, woman to woman: unapologetically illuminate at what you can control. The sun doesn't stop shining because someone feels it's too bright. Keep going - no feeling is final.
You will miss the mark sometimes, because you’re human. Don't be too hard on yourself.
And that's it (for now).
I know, I know! That's a lot to absorb. By all means, remember these things, because they're important life lessons; but I don't expect you to do them all the time. Apply where necessary and remember what the author, James Clear says:
'Mastery is an endless quest to reduce effort without reducing effectiveness.'
Thanks for reading this far -- you are a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day personified.
Now, how do YOU parent your younger self? Do tell!