Embrace Your Inner-Weird

If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.

~~ Tallulah Bankhead

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 to be in their twenties again. After all, most twenty-somethings in my day were cash-poor and working at McDonald’s to supplement college classes and nights at Wayside.

But 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 rear-view mirror, here are the bits of wisdom I would share with my 18-year-old self…

Heidi and Silvia Camping - 5-85

My sister & my 24-year-old self.

Embrace your inner-weird – Part theater 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 a mere twenty-something and told me to relax—that I was only halfway to becoming my whole self. While teens envision 30-year-olds as being grownups, the truth is, 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. Yep, it goes by that fast so it’s OK to be a little selfish now.

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.

The advice I would give my younger self? Embrace your inner-weird and enjoy the ride—mistakes and all!

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