25 Mar 2019

What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?


It’s not so much what would she say but more, would she listen?

I read many missives on the “younger self” and it occurred to me as much as there are elements of my younger days I might do differently, the truth is I am very happy when I reflect.


Could I have been more secure and self-confident? Absolutely.


Were there more adventures and risks I could have taken? Probably although I have come later to the party and understood the importance of finding adventure in whatever way makes you happy. Adventure is not defined by age.


Professionally, the career opportunities much more suited to me weren’t understood but fortunately, they arrived later. Creativity is never too late.



The reality is whatever we might tell our younger self doesn’t mean much because we are where we are and we should want to be our best selves at this moment. This is my goal for today and tomorrow and beyond that, what has been has already gone. Regret is a waste of energy and valuable resources and if we are practising my “better, not younger” philosophy towards ageing, there is no time for that.


My younger self might have had legs for days and a waist fit for Dior but she was shy and lacking in confidence. Today’s version might be the master in flattering fashion and the more conservative lines but is a far more interesting and self-assured woman. And she is much better company because she knows what she wants.


As a younger woman, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted.

Perhaps I had an idea of what I didn’t want but nothing was as clear as it is today. A younger self tries to please the people all of the time – the family, the friends and the partners. How many years are spent doing what we feel we should, rather than what we truly want? That is one of those realisations that occur with age and experience; at the time I wouldn’t have thought I was “working” for others first and myself last. I hope my daughters are more evolved and understand this question of balance better than I did.


Does a younger self even know what a balanced life means?

My “better, not younger” self gets this balance and has the wisdom to know its importance. Balance is the essence of a great life and the hardest element to get absolutely right. I don’t believe we can perfect it on a daily basis but I do try and trying makes it so much better. Every day we have a new opportunity to live as our best self, as long as we value that. We cannot change how we spent our past but we can revolutionise tomorrow.



What would I say to my younger self? Nothing much, she was too busy doing it her own way ;) xv



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11 Comments

anitapelayorivera

I am with you. I don’t regret not having known a few things in my younger days because I eventually arrived at a place where gratitude and wonder exist. My younger self was adventurous, my old self is still adventurous, but with a purpose and broader network of synapses to make all my experiences not a waste, but a means to be where I am now. It all goes together, past, present, hopes and dreams, realizations, legacy.

Reply
Vicki

You use such wonderful words to express yourself, Anita.
Legacy, gratitude, wonder… yes… what happened to wonder? I don’t know that I understood wonder in my earlier days and I need to think more about legacy..
What I love about my communications here is that you make me think and have so many more ideas to express. when I think I might slow down… another idea jumps in… Legacy is on my mind. :)

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Joan

What would I tell my younger self? “Stop perming your stick-straight hair, save that money and use it to buy stock in this new company called Microsoft”.

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Stephanie

Vicki, sometime in the near future I am going to circle back to this wonderfully written piece. I have followed and adore you for many years now. Your post today is so inspiring that I would not being doing it or myself justice if I didn’t take the time to reflect upon in a quieter moment. To me out of everything you have written and shared this is by far my favorite. Bless you for enriching my life daily! ❤️

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Vicki

Thank you Stephanie,

How very kind and thoughtful to say this. When I sit down at my computer in the mornings I have an idea of what I want to talk about but I never, ever know exactly the content. I had intended to share my “wisdom” with my younger self but when I sat down I quickly understood, I am more interested in the now and not what has been.

We must pass on our experience, our joy and laughter to our younger women friends, family members and our daughters but be content with our own memories and work on those we create for our future.

Today, instead of working and doing the admin that awaits I spend half the day with a girlfriend visiting from the US – the sun was shining, we had great conversation and the rest will happen. Once upon a time, I would not have played hookey thinking that the rest was more important – age has some advantages :)

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Beth M.

You’re so right, Vicki! Adventure isn’t defined by age, and maybe we get our confidence just when we’ll appreciate it most. My younger self really did listen to the advice of elders: I was always asking older women what it was going to be like, and they never let me down with their responses. Now that I’m over 50, I find they were right about pretty much everything — and I’m glad I bothered to ask and learn.

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Pamela

Wonderful post, Vicki! My younger self had no thought for different options that I might have followed or long term goals. I didn’t think of a career or saving for a stylish home. My dream was just to travel. So after teaching in a girls’ boarding school to save enough money (after graduating university at 20) I sailed from Sydney via Wellington, Tahiti, Panama, Nassau, Bermuda, Bremerhaven and Amsterdam to Southampton. Leaving behind all my family and friends for years. But by the time I was due to leave, my boyfriend of a year had won a postgrad scholarship to Cambridge. There he was on the dock at Southampton to welcome me. We married, lived on his scholarship (no extra allowance for married students) and my meagre earnings working at first for the University Library. Very little money. We saved what we had for many trips in Europe, mostly camping. It was all about the experience and the adventure. In the year I was teaching in Oz I had built a fabulous wardrobe of latest fashions, my favourite being Mary Quant. Perfect for a then skinny leggy young girl. But in England fashion was no longer possible on our income. It was travel and the cheap seats at the West End theatre, opera and ballet and free tickets to Glyndebourne – lapping up the English opportunities. By the time my hubby was recruited as an Australian diplomat and they flew us home, we had no savings and I had no career to return to. But we’ve never regretted it, it laid the foundation for a lifetime of adventure and travel – and diplomacy was the perfect career for people like us. As I discovered for myself when I too ended up as a diplomat as a result of a departmental reshuffle. So as I look back I see we could have done things differently but I still wouldn’t change our decisions. We were lucky to have lived such a fabulous life while young. For a couple of years we then struggled financially while I was a stay at home Mum. But before long I had a real career too and as our son got older, I travelled for work in my own right, to places like Paris, Copenhagen, Madrid, Bucharest Istanbul, Beijing etc. Best wishes, Pamela

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Lorraine

After turning 50 at the end of last year, it suddenly occurred to me that it’s quite unfair that we only realise these things when we are more mature and with the years of experience under our belts. I think the important thing is however, to NOT feel regret and mull over what could’ve been, letting it ruin our future. NOW is the time! For whatever it is we want to do, have and experience. It’s what made me decide to do that 3 year Fashion Design course at the age of 46, something I will never regret!

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Angela S

I would tell my younger self that life is short very short and you can’t waste a moment of it in trying to be somebody else – they are all taken your job is to be the best version of you – after all we only come once.

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Sunflower

Pamela, what a lovely story full of excitement, positivity and warm memories, and quite right about no regrets. I also moved but only across one side of the UK to another – west to east, but a lack of motorways I could have been in another country! There was just myself and my husband and we loved all the new adventures. Eventually divorcing I stayed there with 3 small children and wondered if I should have moved back nearer to my parents, but I stuck it out. I studied and got a degree and began teaching and was determined to not let my lovely children miss out on anything. We camped and travelled as money was tight but we loved it and all my worries about money and managing alone eventually paled into insignificance as I thrived in my job and met my husband. Possessions, clothes, new cars, nice furnishings were things I dreamt of and yet were not the most important things by far. Looking back and telling my younger self I should certainly focus on my own well being and tell myself not to judge my success or happiness on what I wanted but what was actually in front of me which was always the happiness, health and love for my children. Looking at them now as adults I can see clearly I did something right with them despite all my worries at the time.

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