You’ve heard it said that hindsight is 20/20, and that with age comes wisdom. Surely we’ve all wished for the wisdom of today in our yesterdays.
If I’d Known Then: Women in Their 20s and 30s Write Letters to Their Younger Selves is a collection of such advice and wisdom compiled by editor Ellyn Spragins. She asked women under 40 to write letters to themselves as girls, offering the perspective they wish they’d had. Writers include models and Olympic gold medalists, singers and songwriters, actresses and entrepreneurs, each telling a deeply personal and honest story with equally honest words of wisdom.
I found myself fascinated with their individual stories, some of which were familiar, some of which were previously unknown. I realized again that we each of us have hurts and pain and even the most accomplished among us have struggled. For example, Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, mourned the deaths of several friends as a girl, one of whom was hit by a car right in front of Sara when they were still in high school. As she writes to herself after her friend’s death, she challenges her younger self:
It may be difficult to see right now, but you have just been given an enormous life lesson at a shockingly young age. You just realized how precious and fleeting life is. You were faced with your own mortality, a subject most people choose to avoid and don’t have to face until much later in life. This can devastate you or motivate you…
Wise words for us all.
Equally inspiring words come from Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack. Writing to herself at thirteen years old, the spring before the shark attack, she says:
This year you’re going to deal with some unimaginable challenges, and your life is totally going to change. You’d just laugh in disbelief if I told you. So here is what I wish you could think of…your willingness to be led by God will help through what is ahead. You will pray to be of use to Him and you will find that you can be, beyond what you’d expect or even imagine.
I’ll admit, some of the advice left me a little puzzled. Consider a famous actress’s letter to her sixth grade self containing the advice to “use birth control and condoms, please.” TMI!
Upon reading this book, I’ve been left pondering my own lessons learned. What would I say to my younger self, if I’d known then what I know now? What would you? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Wife and mother, Bible teacher and blogger, Lisa loves Jesus, coffee, dark chocolate and, of course, books. Read more of her reflections at Lisa writes….
Mikki Roo says
That sounds like a great book – something we all could learn a little from. Have you read any books by Charles Martin? I’m giving one away at my blog – they are so inspiring, delving deep into difficult relationships, and overcoming obstacles.
Sounds terrific. I wonder if we would really listen to our older selves?
There’s so much I’d say now…but I never would’ve listened then.
If I could go back and talk to my junior high/high school self I say: Don’t let what other people think affect you. You are who you are and you are worthwhile. Do what you want to and be proud of it. Be nice to everyone, but don’t let their reactions matter.