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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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack Allen February 16, 2013 at 10:27 pm

What it all comes down to is God putting me—and my family—in places where we must look to Him for help. That’s been His plan all along. That’s the only good plan for sinners in need of grace and servant-children who desire to be transformed into the image of His Son. And should I really complain? God’s plan pulls me closer to the heart of the Creator of the universe who loves me completely and desires to give me a hope and a future. There can’t be any plan better than that. There isn’t any plan better. I just need to remind myself of that the next time my house, my work, and my life shout out, “We need to get a sense of order here!” Life will never be cozy, at peace, and organized when following Jesus is the most important thing. But the more I lean in, the more I discover that depending on Him is a good, good place to be.
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Lucy G. Dorsey January 7, 2013 at 4:02 am

I’ve spent the last year-and-a-half of my life writing a cookbook. And now I’m finished! Goodnight.
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Ginger Kay November 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I loved reading the bloghop posts; I’m glad they received the attention they deserved.

A fire sale sounds like a great idea! Hold on to what matters, and let the rest go.
Ginger Kay recently posted..I’m slipping off the low end of the learning curve.My Profile


Chloe Jeffreys November 16, 2012 at 12:45 am

Ginger, it is all about to go up in flames. I can’t wait until I am free to write about this next phase of life. I had no idea that midlife could be so thrilling.


Karen November 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm

This is a great post-post post, Chloe! The blog hop was fun, moving, entertaining, sad, funny, inspiring…can’t wait to do it again!
And I vote no to the Brazilian, but that’s just because I’m a chicken.
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Chloe Jeffreys November 16, 2012 at 12:46 am

Karen, I loved the bloghop and getting to know everyone better. I got so much out of everyone’s letters to themselves. And as far as the Brazilian goes? Well, that’s not for everyone for sure, but a sacrifice for friendship is never in vain.


Kim Tracy Prince November 13, 2012 at 10:59 am

Dearest Chloe, and all of you here, you’re so inspiring to me. I’m so grateful to have mentors like you. Also, you give really good hugs.
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Chloe Jeffreys November 16, 2012 at 12:47 am

I try. Then again, you are very easy to hug, Kim.


BigLittleWolf November 12, 2012 at 6:34 pm

The 20-year old musings were indeed wonderful – to read and to write.

And I can’t believe what a great friend you are to do this! Ouch!

Love the perspective of what your 70-year-old self might say. I need to mull that one, and consider a few changes before I’m too feeble to execute on them.

Then again, with my superpower (you know what)… as long as I’ve got good shoes, nothing is impossible!

Fearless in Footwear?
BigLittleWolf recently posted..Spilling TearsMy Profile


Chloe Jeffreys November 16, 2012 at 12:48 am

Wouldn’t it be cool if they really could meet in some time warp thing? I truly wonder what all the selves that have been me would say to each other.


Julia November 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I’ve had a blast reading all your blogposts and thinking what my letter to myself would be if I had a blog…LOL. And it was really good timing since I was just talking this weekend with my college senior about major life decisions.

“Son, I know it seems like it now, but 2 years really is *nothing* in the big scheme of things. Take your time. Explore. Understand that it is the journey that is important, not the end point. I have had how many careers? Four? Four widely different careers? And yet each one has given me insight and helped with the next. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Success is not simply a job title or an amount in your bank account.”

Hmmm. It looks like we covered all three of your points. 🙂


Chloe Jeffreys November 16, 2012 at 12:49 am

Julia, you aren’t allow to ever blog. You are the last blog reader who doesn’t have her own blog. Bloggers vie for the rights to have a reader like you.

The career point you make is a good one. Kids are told to pick what they want to be when they are teenagers, way before they even know what things there are out there to be. Careers are treated like you only get one choice, but that is truly not the case, is it?


Mary Anne November 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm

The posts were so good and I’m glad you suggested it! My non blog girlfriends loved them!
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Chloe Jeffreys November 16, 2012 at 12:50 am

I’m glad that readers enjoyed them. They were full of food for thought, weren’t they?


Haralee November 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Great in wrapping up the fabulous postings of everyone!
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Chloe Jeffreys November 16, 2012 at 12:50 am

It was a fun time. I can’t wait until the next one.


Julie Danis November 12, 2012 at 9:17 am

You are the definition of GOOD FRIEND!
So glad you are mine now too!
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Chloe Jeffreys November 16, 2012 at 12:51 am

Julie, if you ever need me to have my pubic hair ripped out by the roots on your behalf, I’m your girl. But luckily for me I doubt our friendship will ever demand such pain and suffering. Thankfully, we did get that chance to meet though. That was some lucky kismet.


audrey van petegem November 12, 2012 at 7:13 am

I personally have had 3 very different careers in this life time. I wrote an article about a great book called ‘This is Not the Career I Ordered” written by a Huffington Post Author, by Caroline Dowd-Higgings. Here is the link that shares the stories of some amazing women who also reinvented themselves;
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Chloe Jeffreys November 16, 2012 at 12:52 am

Great article! It is true that we aren’t limited to one career like we think when we’re young.


Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen November 12, 2012 at 7:08 am

YES Chloe! Let’s take all of those lessons and apply them to the rest of our lives! I was the one who said “Believe in YOURSELF!” and I still struggle almost everyday with these three simple words. – Laura Lee
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Helene November 12, 2012 at 6:31 am

Perfect summation of those life lessons, Chloe. It was so much fun getting to know everyone through these stories, and gratifying to know how similar our experiences have been.
Helene recently posted..A Heart-to-Heart with 20 Year-Old MeMy Profile


Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) November 12, 2012 at 5:57 am

Great post! Thanks for pulling together the themes of our advice to our 20 year olds. Very helpful.

Maybe next time we should write a letter from our 70 year old selves (or add 20 years to our current age) to our selves today.
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Walker November 12, 2012 at 4:28 am

You are truly a good friend!
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Janie Emaus November 11, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I loved being part of the blog hop and reading everyone’s advice. I’m sure that I wouldn’t have listened to myself back then. Some things just have to be lived and looked back upon.


Amanda Fox November 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Best part – you gettin’ that wax! Loved taking part in, and reading the other contributions to the blog hop. Learned lots and had a great time.

BTW, my daughter recently went for her first wax. I don’t know. She said that it hurt like a mother fluffer. What I want to know – does it hurt like someone is tattooing your down there? If so, I’m out LOL!
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emily November 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm

As a 20 something, i love your reflection back on that time in your life.. it helped me with mine today, and though i am not you – i am thankful that your perspective towards your younger self is spot on for my life right now.. lots to think about, 🙂


Bonnie November 11, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I loved reading everyone’s note to their 20 year old self! I found that most wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Everything they did “then” – put them on the path to where they are “now”

I kinda like that!
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Anne (@notasupermom) November 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Not even for a teeny, tiny second? You are a good friend!
When I get to your town again, I’ll let her wax me. It’s virgin territory!
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By Word of Mouth Musings November 12, 2012 at 7:17 am

Can I just have lunch with the two of you .. after the whole pubic prepping and pain, I could have cocktails at the ready 😉
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Pauline Gaines November 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Wish I had read this when I was 20. Or maybe I did read something like it and didn’t listen!


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