A Super Bowl Commercial That Had Me Thinking
Five Life Lessons I Wish My Older Self Would Have Taught My Younger Self
Super Bowl XLIX is over. The new commercials have been unveiled. Thank you Dodge Motor Company for inspiring this writer to wax philosophical about the beauty of aging. If you haven’t seen this commercial, let me summarize it here: Several centenarians are interviewed about their words of wisdom for a long life to commemorate Dodge’s 100 years in business. These amazing people moved me to think of my own existence and the lessons I’ve learned over my long life. I thought of five important lessons I would have wanted my middle-aged self to teach my 18 year-old self, saving me much angst and worry over the years.
Record the stories of your older relatives. I would give my eye teeth to have my grandparents back to fill in all the gaps of my family’s past. I have learned that who I am is more than the sum of my visible parts. Now that I have joined a genealogy site, I am finding family stories that are completing the many questions I have always had about my genetic roots. I am a bit sad that I can’t share these stories with those who lived them; and, that I don’t have them recorded for posterity. When I was 18, they were all alive. Unfortunately, I was too busy thinking of myself.
The insecurities of youth turn into pearls of wisdom. I wish I knew me at my age now when I was 18 and starting out in the world. This is the conversation I might have had with myself: “Jeaninne, do not worry about your future so much. Enjoy your youth. You are studying hard in college and working two jobs. Be proud of what you are accomplishing. Life is not always what you plan; it will be what it is meant to be- and most times, it’s even better.”
Jealous people will try to take you down if you work hard and excel. Don’t let them. I have never been a jealous person. If friends were prettier or smarter than I in my youth, I adored them and felt honored that they adored me. I hated high school clicks and felt badly if mean girls picked on other girls. However, I never dreamed that the real world is much more cut-throat. Unfortunately, the more I accomplished in my teaching career, the lonelier I felt among my colleagues. I learned that successful people are not well liked. If I had just put on my big girl pants and confronted those nasty individuals when the bullying began, I could have saved myself years of frustration and anxiety. The good news is that in my last ten years of teaching, I was secure enough to confront the naysayers with maturity. Most backed off and a few even became friends.
Work hard, but put loved ones first. I had a father who put his career before family. I never really knew my father before he died. I recently found a letter he had written me a few years before his death. It was three pages full of regret. That makes me sad because I was never sure he truly loved my brother and me- all those years wasted. It’s important to work hard and achieve, but always save quality time each week for your children and family members. I know I won’t be thinking about my career when I am on my deathbed, but I will want the people I love to be next to me, holding my hand.
Celebrate your individuality! We have all heard the phrase, “Youth is wasted on the young.” When I look back and see me as that joyful, exuberant young woman at 18, I also remember the young woman who second guessed herself with everything she thought or did. The very things that I hated about myself have turned out to be my strengths. I hated my small breasts, my muscular legs, and stubborn complexion. However, I didn’t celebrate my athleticism. I was a runner, a dancer and a skier. And, when I look back on pictures, I can’t believe I thought that I wasn’t worthy- I was thin, healthy and attractive. My breasts are still youthful because I didn’t stretch them out with implants, my skin problems were the result of oily skin that doesn’t wrinkle as much, and my strong body is keeping me healthy well into my advancing years. I regret not loving me sooner. All those years ago, I wish I would have said to myself, “You have such confidence and strength and the world is at your feet. Don’t worry and live life your way!” Thank goodness, I managed to do that in spite of myself.