460: Younger Self

A Thousand Things to Talk About
460: Younger Self

If you could give your 15 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Full episode script

In April of 2006, a book was published that hit the New York Times Best Seller list. What I Know Now: Letters To My Younger Self, by Ellyn Spragins, kicked off what has since become a nearly cliche question — if you could give your younger self any particular piece of advice, what would it be? That one question has spawned millions of tweets, thousands of essays, and lots and lots of conversations.

In episode 430, we talked about the importance of and value of taking time for reflection, and how even a small amount of time set aside for reflection can be beneficial. When you direct that reflection, things can get even more powerful.

There’s essays about advice to younger selves just about everywhere. In 2014, Michelle Obama wrote her essay for People magazine, saying her advice to herself would be to stop being so afraid. Reading a list of not-so-famous people’s advice, much of it sounds very familiar — quit listening to others, pursue what you love, save more money, stop trying to please everyone… all very good advice.

And yet… if you really could travel back in time and tell your younger self some of these things, would it do any good?

As Brittany Davis wrote, quote:

They’re pieces of advice you couldn’t give had you not gone through whatever struggle you overcame to learn them. If you eliminate the struggle, can there ever really be a lesson learned? Don’t get me wrong. Taking time to acknowledge how you’ve grown is important. Reflecting on your struggles and finding the wisdom in them is great. But too often these questions cause us to look back in the wrong way. They cause us to look back and wonder how knowing what we know now, could have changed things back then. They make us wonder how this knowledge may have changed the course of our life. But that’s not the point.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.