The older I get, the more I realize that the annoying cliché posters plastered to the walls of my high school were actually trying to tell me something that bordered on good advice. You remember the ones—”What’s popular isn’t always right and what’s right isn’t always popular.” Inspirational words with a side of cheesy photo, please!
Even now, I cringe to think of those corny signs attached haphazardly with sticky tack to prison-gray walls. But the sad truth is that those “words of wisdom” might actually have been what they proclaimed to be. While, I’m not headed into the high school poster business anytime soon, there are a few things I would tell my younger self that the benefit of experience has allowed me to see.
Don’t run away from fear, run towards it
Sounds counterintuitive, right? Why would I run towards a guy holding a gun? Well, you wouldn’t, that’s just silly. I’m referring to the choices that scare us—moving to another place without a safety net, breaking off a comfortable relationship that isn’t going anywhere, throwing a little (or a lot) of caution to the wind.
Often, the things that scare us are those that offer the greatest possibility of reward. If you are faced with a decision that poses fear, it's usually because the choice entails big change which is scary, but it can also be wonderful. Take the opportunity to grow. What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe, you fail at your endeavor. So what? It was worth the effort because we often learn more from our failures than we do from our successes (another poster I saw somewhere, perhaps?).
Listen to those offering advice
Notice that I didn’t say, apply all of the advice given to you. Not every piece you will receive will be a glittering gem. But usually, those offering advice do so because they care. When I was younger, I always wondered why adults didn’t have better things to do than offer me advice. The truth is that they DO have better things to do. So, if they are taking the time to offer it, it’s because they hope to teach you something of value. The least you can do is listen before disregarding advice. Even if I don’t utilize every piece of advice I’m given, I often learn something of use.
Do what keeps you young
When I was in my late twenties, I remember not owning a single pair of shorts. I thought I was too old for shorts (even now, I can’t wrap my head around where this came from). Now, I feel so stupid to have ever believed such nonsense. One of the phrases I hate hearing the most is, “you’re too old for that.” If anyone has a copy of this magical book that outlines when you’re too old to do things, send me a copy. I can always use some extra fuel for my fireplace.
Now, I wear shorts anytime I damn well feel like it, I drink wine in the afternoons, I occasionally take a shot at my husband’s electric skateboard, and I try to indulge in a whimsical sense of adventure.
Don't fear loneliness
Loneliness is a tough one. We are social creatures, that's no great revelation. It makes perfect sense that we seek out the company of others. But, the fear of loneliness has occasionally kept me from developing or even discovering my own strengths because I was so focused on the feelings of others. Relish in the company of those you meet along the way, but take some time to embark on adventures by yourself.
Try to change the world
Sounds like a lofty goal, right? It is. But, those who try to change the world are often those who do. Make a difference, choose a cause, support something other than yourself. Because changing the world seems like such an unattainable goal, most people don’t even try. This is one I am still working on, even now. However, you are never too young to change the world and even the smallest effort at doing so could result in real positive changes. I can only hope that if my kids approach me with a grand idea, I’ll say, “hell yes, let’s do it.”
While I’m not advocating for more corny posters, I can say these are a few lessons I am lucky to have learned.
Ashley works in the mystical world of digital marketing. A true lover of the written word, she whiles away her time writing, editing, reading, and helping small businesses with their marketing needs. Believing herself to be a seeker of discomfort, she is always on the lookout for her next adventure. Check her out at contenthusiast.com.
Mandi's Two Cents: This is one of my favorite posts so far! Do you have a cheesy inspirational poster in mind that you remember from back in the day? Feel free to share it with us if you do!