A friend recently asked, “If you could write your younger self a note, what would you say in only two words?” I discussed this with my writing group and we came up with a few potential notes:
And these are all good messages, but I know my younger self and I know my older self, and young Jill would absolutely pitch a fit if she got a note that said, “Be kind, love 2014 Jill.” She would complain that her older self didn’t understand her at all and had changed beyond recognition and “Be Kind” was the most general thing she could possibly say and what she wanted was ANSWERS.
And I know this about myself (my former self and current self) and so my first thought was in my two words I would create a complicated anagram. An algorithm of sorts that would, after three years of intense research and dedication, reveal important information to young Jill about her future/the lottery winnings/the meaning of life!
(It is important to know that most of my struggles in life come from unrealistic expectations.)
My second thought was this note:
(Frank now being the universal name for a boy I once dated.)
“No Frank” is the closest thing I could come to actually hinting at the future for young Jill in two words.
Do not get involved with Frank, love 2014 Jill who wishes she could tell you more.
Of course, I know my younger self and this note would not stop her, if anything this would fuel her fire. But Frank is so gorgeous! Frank is so wonderful! Frank is everything and now I must have Frank AT ALL COSTS!
And so my warning would fail. Would propel me towards Frank, if anything.
I’ve never been good at trusting myself. Even if I held a note FROM MYSELF that explicitly said something was a bad idea I would think, “I can change those odds. I can just try harder. Probably I didn’t give enough and this time I’ll fix it if it kills me.”
Which thinking is a whole other set of issues.
But you know what?
I’ve decided it’s OK.
Because no matter how I look at my life story, Frank is there. No matter the warnings or the do-overs, it all comes back to that and I must take it. Frank is a thread in my life story that is woven into so many things that to try to unravel it is not only silly, it’s impossible.
I can’t warn myself away from him.
I’m not even sure if I would want to, for certain.
I just know I would want to save younger Jill all the pain I could. I know the tears she’s about to have and how awful it all was and I’m still not entirely positive it has made her/me “stronger.” What does “stronger” even look like?
I constantly wonder that. What, exactly, is “stronger”?
I do know this though:
“Be kind” was never a bad message.
Being kind doesn’t propel me towards foolish decisions.
Perhaps Be Kind is the answer, after all.
That, or a complicated algorithm I spend the next four years of my life crafting.
For now, though, I’m going with Be Kind.