A note to my 40 year-old-self

Oprah’s network ran a series of quirky, promotional short films when it was brand-spanking-new that I remember really loving. They featured a person in their twenties or early thirties giving advice to their teenage self.

The people were quirky but in a good way – and clearly happy and “successful.”

The advice they gave their younger selves was inevitably along the lines of, don’t worry, it gets better. You will find your spot in the world. You will be happy. So go ahead and just be a nerd/a theater freak/a wordsmith/an artist/etc. You’re more than enough.

I wish I could find the videos to link to them as they were little 60 second masterpieces. But I can’t, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Anyhoo, I digress. These notes to younger selves were lovely. Inspiring even. I’ve seen many others from bloggers of all stripes over the past few years. Just Google “message to my teenage self” and you’ll be richly rewarded.

Teenage years are tough, to be sure.

You’re a swirling cauldron of hormones desperately trying to individuate, and yet terrified of being rejected by your peers for who you really might be.

Not all that different from your 40s, really. And motherhood. They are definitely a period of swirling hormones to be sure! Although, rather than peer pressure, it’s the stakes that really instill terror.

In your 40s, it’s the realization that you have only so many more times to pivot before the clock runs out.

For motherhood, it’s the profound awareness that your choices directly impact the lives of others — not just today, but potentially for the rest of their lives.

I suppose we’re always in the process of becoming – but certain periods are much more intensely about becoming than others. And sometimes when you’re in one of those periods perspective is hard to come by.

I’d love to know what my mom would have written to her 40-year-old self. And my grandmothers, and my amazing Aunt Rie Adele (aka Marie Dennis). I’d love to know what Hillary Clinton would write. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Madeleine K. Albright, Estee Lauder, Indra Nooyi, Anita Roddick, Eleanor Roosevelt…and, and, and. I’d also really love to hear from women who lived full lives well outside of the spotlight — “ordinary” moms who I am sure were anything but.

What a rich tapestry of wisdom those letters would be. So far, nothing like it for sale on Amazon. Yet. Maybe I should go get the conversation started?!

Would you love to read those kinds of notes? Tell me who you’d love to hear from in the comments! If you’ve already passed this milestone and would be willing to share your wisdom with me – please let me know in the comments!

  • Melisa Anderson

    I would absolutely LOVE to know what these women had to say…and other women who at 40 (or almost 40) find themselves in a totally different place than they could have ever imagined,