If I could’ve given my 20 year old self wise words, here’s what they would’ve been (from two books I read in my late 20’s/early 30’s):
1. “Now that I don’t have to be perfect, I can be good.” (from East of Eden ) The pressure to have everything be perfect, or to be perfect myself, was deeply damaging and pushed me to make some really bad decisions and led me to always comparing my worst to other people’s best (which is all we usually get to see of them.) In my teens and early 20’s, I would keep trying to tweak things, keep searching for “just the right” thing/person/place. I passed up opportunities, and some really nice men, because either they didn’t look good enough – or I thought I didn’t. I was chronically late everywhere because I had to be sure that my appearance was “just so.” Heaven forbid if I broke a perfectly manicured nail! I’m proud that one of my teen son’s favorite expressions is “pretty good’s good enough” – he tries his best and leaves it at that. I’ve learned to do just that, too, though sometimes I still need a reminder. 😉
2. “Remember it’s written in the Good Book that trouble shall come to pass, but nowhere is it written, child, that trouble shall come to stay.” (from another novel, don’t remember the name, but a grandmother was speaking to her teenaged granddaughter.) Not only did this apply to recovering from mistakes or failures, it was especially helpful in the area of relationships. I was one of those girls who felt everything in the extreme so I believed that every mistake would be fatal, or at least “ruin my life forever!” Because I loved deeply, without reservation and with commitment, I believed everyone else did, too, so when a relationship ended, it felt like a part of me died as well and I would never recover. I did, and went on to have other great loves and successes. In my mid-30’s I managed a customer service department in a high-stress medical field so any little mistake we made – missed a shipping deadline, made a typo so the wrong sized product was sent, etc. – could have had a negative impact on a patient’s health and well being at worst, sent a prestigous doctor into a rage or, at the least, screwed up the hospital’s, doctors’ and patients’ schedules for a day or two. So naturally we each had days when we felt like we carried the weight of the world because we’d slipped up on something. One of my reps made a little needlepoint tapestry that said “And this too shall pass” and we hung it on the front wall. When one of us was having one of those days, it moved to our cubicle so we could read and reflect on it to regain our equalibrium. It always helped so by the time we left, or at least returned in the morning, we were back on track and the plaque was back on the wall.