Getting old is like climbing a mountain; you get a little out of breath, but the view is much better!Ingrid Bergman
As a child I joyfully looked forward to becoming an adult, as I presume most people do. Then I turned 18. I left home, went to college, enlisted in the Navy, got married, raised kids, traveled the world, earned a graduate degree, retired from the Navy became a grandmother….and BOOM! Here I am simply enjoying the Hell out of life! I feel like a teenager again, except I’m retired from the work force, and there’s no one telling me what to do. Also, I’m two years away from the government paying back the money I’ve been loaning it for the past 44 years!
Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of annoyances about turning 60. For example, today I received a notice in the mail informing me my supplemental health insurance premium was increasing by 10 bucks a month because I reached a milestone age!
Older and wiser? I don’t know about that! I do know that the older I get the more unapologetic I am for my behavior. It’s harder for me to be insulted. I used to whither at the slightest criticism; now I’ve become resilient and stronger. Today I’d liken myself to one of those sturdy live oaks in Louisiana, thriving hundreds of years under a constant barrage of hurricanes and floods.
Just because one reaches the age of 18 does not mean that person is actually mature. Just because I am 60 doesn’t mean I am wise – not by a long shot. However, I can think of a few words of wisdom I would say to my younger self, if I had that ability to time travel back to her.
Things I Would Tell my Younger Self
“Ditch the Boyfriend”
In high school you will endure a long-term unhealthy relationship with a boy you idolize. It is not love; it is an obsession. Luckily for both of you, he will end it. The breakup will be hard. Don’t worry. You will meet your true soul mate after you join the Navy.
You will miss out on a lot of fun in high school and so will he. So please listen to your teachers, family and inner circle of friends. Give him the boot!
You will still able to glean a lot from this experience, though. It will toughen you up. You will become resourceful, wary and independent. You will have the courage to stand up for yourself and others, which will come in handy in the future.
“Trust Your Instincts”
You’ve been lucky as a wife and mother. Sixty year old me understands that things will always work out in the end. It might not be the way you envisioned it, but everything will work itself out.
You knew nothing about parenthood and you did the best you could. Most of the time it felt like guesswork and luck. Sure, there are things you would have done differently, but stop second guessing yourself. Your kids turned out fine!
Listen to your husband, your biggest advocate. He believes in you even when you won’t believe in yourself. Stop overthinking your decisions, actions and outcomes. Again, everything worked out fine. Stop worrying so much!
“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”
It’s all pretty much small stuff! Did you find yourself in the emergency room? Did someone die? Were there dire consequences? Then don’t worry so much. Save that energy for when something serious happens. Are you really going to have a melt down over gaining a few pounds?
Let go of grudges. “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting another person to die.” That’s a quote that has an ambiguous author, sometimes accredited to Buddha. But it still resonates truth. Don’t waste your time with grudges.
Forgive yourself for mistakes. You will make a lot of mistakes. No one is perfect. Making mistakes means you’re only human.
“Skip the Dessert and other Warnings”
Quit smoking! And while you’re at it, don’t drink so much. There’s no need to elaborate on this one. It’s a no-brainer!
Don’t eat anything with wheat. You have a wheat allergy that will cause you all kinds of health problems in your future. Eat the bacon and eggs and get your thyroid checked.
And this warning is the most important of all: Tell your beloved boss and mentor to give up his pilot license.
All this being said, if I had the chance to do it all again, I would. Hopefully at some point I will actually feel wiser with age. Now I am left wondering what my future 80 year old self would say to me now. I suspect she would tell me “no regrets and fair winds & following seas are ahead.”
What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time?
Thank you for joining me! – Barb, the River Blogger (Btrb)