April 19, 2024

“Don’t take life too seriously,” a letter to past self

If you have ever received an email from me, you will see the quote following my signature, “Don’t take life too seriously – nobody gets out alive anyway.” That pretty much sums up what I would say in a note to my younger self.

As a person who thinks she is pretty boring when it comes to day-to day living, other’s lives seem more exciting if one lives in the realm of social media. I did not grow up with social media and thus my note would never say I wish I had Tic Toc, Facebook and Instagram in my youth. My happiness was skiing, camping, hiking, rafting, walking, friends, family, reading, building, sports, creating, shopping, designing, etc. No matter how you choose to live your life, happiness is not the destination, it’s a journey, take the first step . . . then the next . . . then the next.

I was always up for a good sunset or sunrise and loved taking photos with a camera using film and spending hours in a dark room developing and printing images of my life that are all tucked away in a box somewhere. I love listening to music from multiple decades and continue to sing the words of my favorite songs only in the shower or long  “Thelma and Louise” road trips. I have many flaws and weaknesses, but also have strengths and powers that others may envy. No matter what, use your strength and power to help and influence others.   

Earning five degrees from five different colleges, I always wondered if I was smart enough to get accepted into a college and complete the next degree. It turned out I was as I continually crammed more knowledge into my brain in the late-night hours. Even though I wished I had completed my degrees before I was 30, it was a journey of perseverance and hanging with the smartest people I know.  Many of those people remain lifelong friends. Remember, don’t ever judge yourself, judge yourself against what you know you are capable of. It’s also great to have goals. . . but there’s always more than one path to achieving them and never stop learning because it really does make one grow.

Smiling makes life seem not so crappy, so smile often. Remember, positivity is infectious, and happiness is a choice. Happiness isn’t just the most important thing in life; it’s the only thing that matters. So many places I traveled bring back great memories because the people I am with chose happiness. No matter how miserable we were, there was always something funny to reminisce. And, by the way, the stories get funnier as time passes.

Life is an adventure so treat it as such. According to the Smithsonian’s Human Origins, humans have lived on the Earth for a least two million years; about 108 billion total estimated over that time. According to the CDC, the average life expectancy of humans today is 76.1 years. Therefore, whatever age you are, the clock is ticking. I’ve never seen an epitaph that said I should have worked or slept more.  So no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to live the life you’ve always wanted. Starting is scary, but the opportunity to reinvent yourself is priceless.

To quote one of my many favorite poets, Dylan Thomas, “do not go gentle into the good night.” Live boldly, dream big and set goals. Even if you fail, think what an incredible ride it will be.