An old friend called me recently to commemorate an anniversary from a long time ago. (What anniversary, you ask? None of your business. What friend? None of your business either – he knows who he is and that’s all I care about.)
Anyway, in the course of one conversation, I was suddenly 26 again; all young and cute, with the only wrinkles I had to deal with in the morning coming from the stack of cotton shirts I hadn’t ironed the night before.
My life is so different now from what I imagined then – I was working on my MBA, planning a top tier career to match my top tier capabilities, then marriage to another top tier type and the production of several top tier children which would involve beginning to save for their top tier college educations before they could walk.
Instead I am single, divorced, fast-seeing my hands gain the same creases my mother had when I was young, and working free-lance doing something I enjoy but certainly not part of the corporate world. I never wear suits anymore and I’m fine with that. But I miss the easy way things were when I was younger. The world was my oyster, and now I try generally to avoid shrimp because it is an unsustainable shellfish.
I am grateful for where my mind is now as compared to then. I wanted so many things – some contradictory – and I possessed confidence yes, but a certain level of arrogance and fear of failure too that I am not sorry to see gone.
I’ve learned that I can make mistakes and the world doesn’t fall apart. Kindness is a better gift than I understood then. And I’ve also learned that I don’t have to tell people I’m smart. The other smart ones figure it out, and the not-so-smart don’t need to; they have other things to offer the world, and me.
I miss my youth – more than I expected to when I was in the middle of it. It’s nice to get those phone calls once in a while that bring it all back. I would like to really time travel – just to tell my younger self to enjoy those days, because one thing that makes growing older bearable is having a truly amazing and exciting past to look back on – one that makes me smile.
That’s all I would tell her though – let her make her own mistakes without any advice from me. Oh, and maybe I’d suggest she invest in Microsoft and Apple, but that’s it. That would be enough.