Birthdays are anti-climactic when you are an adult.
No breakfast in bed with Mickey Mouse pancakes.
No big birthday wish lists for the toys you’ve been holding off on (saving your allowance instead).
No cupcake classroom parties.
No all-nighter sleep-overs.
Heck, if it wasn’t for Facebook, how would we know who’s birthday it is?!
Nevertheless…there is something special about birthdays.
It’s YOUR day—and regardless of anyone else knowing or not—you walk around with your head a little bit higher, a spring in your step, and a sense of entitlement (“it’s my birthday, don’t mess with me”).
This past week, I turned 28 (28 on the 28th of October to be exact). As a kid, didn’t you always laugh inside when adults would say: “Time goes by so fast” or “Enjoy being young while you can.”
Well, in the blink of the eye, 8 turned into 18, and 18 turned into 28—and, hands held high, I suppose, if anything I am enjoying one fast ride.
While “aging” is generally no one’s favorite subject or idea, I tend to hold a different perspective: thankfulness.
Thankfulness to be celebrating another birthday.
Five years ago, my life was singing a different tune.
Had the ‘YMCA angel’ intervention not occurred, quite frankly, I would be dead.
Barely hanging onto life, by a thread, the craziness of it all is that I did NOT even recognize it.
79-lbs. of discontent, brokenness, solace, unhappiness and unrest—I had chosen, if anything, to ‘settle’ for the ‘cards’ I had been dealt.
Five years later, I am singing a different tune—peace, rest, content, joy, PRESENCE; and I aim to empower YOU to know and believe that you can toO.
In other words: You CAN overcome; and, as cliché as it may sound, you CAN live the life you imagine and dream.
Looking at this picture of myself 20 years ago—at 8 years-old—little did I know, at that age, what series of events would unfold in my life for the following 15 years.
Fast forward 10 years later—age 18—and I was full-fledged in my struggle with anorexia at the time—seeking and searching high and low
If I could go back and speak into her life—particularly that little 8-year-old in me (the one FULL of life before becoming dead inside for 14 years), here are 28 things I’d say (my now, much older, and wiser self):
- You have two hands at the end of each arm—one for helping others and one for helping yourself.
- In order to love others well, you must first learn to love yourself.
- The most popular kids in school are just as insecure as you are—every person innately has a desire to feel accepted, loved and acknowledged. Be that towards others and your popularity will shine in the long run.
- TRUE beauty is reflected in your soul, your eyes, your smile. In fact, YOU are a beautiful person, inside and out, and your smile is one of my favorite things.
- Make sure you invest in your internal beauty; peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.
- Calories don’t count if you don’t count them.
- Boys are stupid (throw rocks at them). In fact, don’t try to get validation from the boys around you; you do not need their approval or desire. They are struggling too.
- Love will find you when you least expect it—pursue things you love to do, and you will find yourself running the race alongside like-minded people.
- Tests and homework and work will come and go—life is about relationships, shared moments and paying it forward—prioritize these things.
- Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
- Share your extras with the poor and needy
- Let your ‘yes’ mean your ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean your ‘no’ (and STOP saying ‘yes’ to everything).
- Your family loves you very much. Do not be afraid to open up to them as they are there for you and will support you through anything.
- Your school picture does not define you. In fact—everyone’s was awkward: braces, frizzy hair, and all.
- For a beautiful figure, honor your body—don’t abuse it. Although you see your legs and stomach as fat, I see them as powerful. This will come in handy so many times throughout your life. They will give you the strength and endurance you need for the adventures coming your way.
- Limiting what you are eating will not help your body or mind. You need those nutrients to fuel that amazing brain of yours and to help with all the new sports and activities you will come to enjoy.
- Try to focus on all that you do have, rather than what you do not.
- You have been given different gifts and abilities, and even if you can’t see them yet, just wait, you will enjoy discovering them over all of the years to come.
- You don’t need to know what you want to do with the rest of your life (even adults are trying to figure this one out).
- Be loving and kind to everyone around you. Think about what you are saying and let it be supportive and encouraging.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff—and it’s all small stuff.
- Turn off the part of the brain and thought process that obsesses over things you can’t control and makes you stress out.
- Everything happens for a reason—try to see the silver linings.
- “Be yourself” is a sort of meaningless phrase. We hear this ALL the time. Yes, confidence is the end goal, but to be yourself, you need to find yourself first!
- Finding yourself is about discovering your values and the things you love doing. What does being a good friend mean to you? What subjects do you enjoy? What kinds of people do you like being around? What are you good at? What do you want to be good at? Who do you admire, and why? Discover your personality, your goals, your dreams. Get to know that person, and the rest will follow.
- Do not lose sight of your own goals.
- Listen to your gut.
- Please know, you were made for a purpose.
If only I knew then what I know now…
What about you?
What things would you say to your past self?
I invite you to share!