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Two words to a younger me

A few days ago, I read a post on FaceBook that said, if you could go back to a younger you, what would you say to them in two words. I was surprised at my reaction.

I have a little picture of myself at six years old that sits on the desk in my office. My hair was a lovely shade of red-gold back then, a colour that sadly disappeared throughout the years (though I still have the highlights) but proof that I did inherit something from my Dad. Actually, Mum says I inherited quite a bit from Dad, including several personality traits, not all of which she found endearing. Ah Mama, it’s genetics. Whatcha gonna do?

It was picture-taking day at my school, not long after my very first day, and Mum had curled my hair, and pinned a blue silk rose beneath my collar. But I was so stressed and overwhelmed by what was going on, I couldn’t enjoy this rare bit of sartorial elegance, and in the picture my smile is tentative and the look in my eyes a bit lost.

Every time I see this picture, I feel great compassion for this little girl. There were such difficult challenges ahead – years of unrelenting bullying as a child, and long bouts of depression as an adult before she found the saving grace of writing. Disappointments, failures, medical crises, loss, much of which she was woefully unprepared for. The words that most often come to me when I look at her picture are, “You poor thing!”

But lately I’ve come to realize I’ve only been remembering part of the picture, the sad part. There’s more here. This little girl, unprepared though she was, will withstand every challenge that comes her way, sometimes with grace, and sometimes by the skin of her teeth. It will take her years, but she will discover her “No!” and that will save her dignity and give her the power to say “This far and no further!” And she will also discover her “Yes!” to situations that will demand every last ounce of strength and endurance, and she will not falter. She will learn to ask for help, she’ll make wonderful friends, she’ll find success in her chosen career, and one day she’ll trust herself enough to fall in love. There will be adventures, and fun, and growth, and wonder along the way. She’ll figure things out. She’ll even help others to figure things out. She won’t give up even in the bleakest moments. She’ll have faith. She’ll have courage. She’ll find the good, and keep on going.

So when I read the FB post about what would you say to your younger self, two words flashed through my mind like lightning, bold and joyous.

“Good girl!” I would say to her. “Good girl!”

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