As the Kalamazoo Growlers put the screws to the Rockford Rivets on a recent Saturday afternoon, a group of 50+ year-old people (men and women) sat under the baking sun, discussing what age they would choose if given the opportunity to travel back to a younger day. Not surprisingly, no one wanted anat McDonald’s to supplement college classes and nights at Wayside.
What was surprising is that no one in this lively group wanted to relive their thirties either. The overwhelming go-to age to revisit if given the chance? Forty. Because it takes forty damn years to finally get comfortable in our skin and accepting of who we are. So, with help from the rearview mirror, here are the bits of wisdom I would share with my 18-year-old self.
Embrace your inner “weird” : Part theatre geek, part tomboy—I knew I wasn’t your average kid way back then. I just didn’t know that I could celebrate my quirky, inner-weird. Remember that oddly talented girl in school who didn’t care what people thought of her? Be her.
Relax: If only someone had taken me aside when I was an almost twenty and told me to relax, that I was only halfway to becoming my whole self. While teens 30-yearolds as being grownups, the truth is that, at 50+, I’m still looking forward to reaching grownup status.
Take that summer job at Yellowstone: Or the camping trip with friends to the U.P. The point is, celebrate your newfound independence. You may think that you have your entire life to travel but life is about twists and turns, and before you know it, you’ll be pushing a stroller through Disney World and holding your mother’s hand in the nursing home. It really does go that fast, so it’s OK to be a little selfish now.
If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner. – Tallulah Bankhead
Make your own mistakes: Oprah Magazine once featured the following tips for succeeding in life: “Learn from the mistakes made by others.” I could not disagree more, for I have never learned from watching others make mistakes. In fact, if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not living. Legendary actress Tallulah Bankhead had it right with her wisdom that mistakes should be made often and earlier. Don’t spend your life on the sidelines watching others have all the fun; make your own mistakes. Heck, I don’t even care if you make some of the same mistakes twice.
Own your chutzpah: After women of the sixties and seventies fought for equal rights, the next generation tended to coast on the subject of women’s issues. They believed that they were now on equal footing with their male counterparts. Looking back on my earlier career path, I realize just how far I was from having my foot in the Boys’ Club.
Heidi McCrary is a writer and co-owner of Ad Shop, etc. – a boutique advertising agency offering full-service and a lá carte marketing services to local businesses. Contact Heidi at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook at adshopetc.