Do Our 20-Year Old Selves Have Anything to Teach Us?

by Chloe Jeffreys · 33 comments

in Women in Midlife

Last week’s post for the GenFab bloghop hit The Big Time. It was featured on four or five different channels of the Huffington Post, and my post was one of the ones that was quoted.

Here’s the snip of my quote that made the Huffington Post:


Yay!! Now the world knows I’m not a lesbian. I know there was a lot of speculation about this out there and I for one am glad these nasty rumors have finally been laid to rest.

What Can The Future Teach Us About Today?

What was amazing to me is not that we made the Huffington Post, but how much I personally got out of those letters. As I read through all the posts in the bloghop (which I highly recommend if you haven’t done so yet), I saw three main themes emerge, and it stuns me how much these themes speak to me today.

It makes me wonder with some fear and trepidation what my 70-year old self will have to say to me in the bloghop of the future if I don’t listen.

So here are the three timeless life lessons I learned from the wise women of GenFab:

1. Don’t Settle.

Yeah, that guy, job, city, university, seems so wonderful–or isn’t that bad–but he, it, that place, isn’t worth setting for. Girl, don’t settle for good enough or not that bad. You deserve more than that!

Hmmm. As I read through the 34 posts written by women of a certain age pleading with their younger selves not to settle, I began wondering: What am I white-knuckling today that my 70-year old self will look back on and wish I hadn’t settled for?

Nelson Mandela said,

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

The hard truth is that we usually must let go of the small first before the life we are capable of living will reveal itself. We must stop settling and risk the unknown, and that takes faith. Faith in God and/or faith in ourselves. And faith that there really is a life out there better than the one we’ve settled for.

2. Believe in Yourself.

Yeah, I know. You feel ugly, fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, too flat-chested, too well-endowed, and your hair is too curly/straight. You aren’t educated enough; you have the wrong degree; you went to the wrong school; you don’t have family support; you’re trapped supporting your demanding family. You feel worthless and don’t have the talent or tools to make your dreams come true. But none of that means you can’t reach for the brass ring. Reach for it anyway! Girl, believe in yourself because sometimes no one else will.

Well? In what ways don’t I believe in myself now? How often do I catch myself these days telling myself, “You’re too old for ____.” Or, “It’s too late to _____.”What will my 70-year old self have to say about that? Is she rolling her eyes at me this very minute and exclaiming, “Shut up! You aren’t too old! And it sure as hell isn’t too late!”

3. Let Go of Fear.

Sure a whole lot of bad, scary, awful, traumatic, and rotten things may/will happen to you, but those catastrophes will be your best teachers. Don’t let your fear of what might happen tomorrow keep you from making anything happen today. Girl, don’t let your non-decisions make your decisions for you!

For quite awhile now I’ve allowed certain non-decisions to make my decisions because I’ve figured that the devil I know is better than the devil I don’t know. I’ve now decided differently. I cannot continue making the easy choice simply because I’m afraid I’ll make a wrong choice. The easy choice is making me so miserable that it is now worth it to me to risk the wrong choice.

Why does change always have to be like this for me? Is it this way for you too?


There are big changes coming in my life. These changes will be huge and life-altering. I’m about to hold a fire sale, and the only thing for sure staying at this point is my husband. And thank God for that!

You Never Walk Alone

I have some good examples in my life of women grabbing for the brass ring. In addition to all the lovely ladies of GenFab, I have a good friend who has been wanting to become an aesthetician for several years, but she was being pulled along by the troika of self-limitation described above.

She had a good enough job, she had internalized messages from her childhood that left her feeling not good enough, and she was afraid of failure (Who isn’t?).

Days after turning 50, she was laid off from her good enough job, and, after months of soul-searching, she faced her fears and is becoming an aesthetician. Knowing I’m going to need a good aesthetician as I grow old, I’ve been more than thrilled to support her dream, so when she asked me to let her practice doing a Brazilian on me I didn’t hesitate for a second.

Let me introduce you to Rebecca. While ripping my hair out from the roots with hot wax, she’s showing me, and everyone else, that, when you let go of your fears and believe in yourself, you never have to settle.

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