If you could turn back time, would you?
The clocks went back at the weekend and so too did my mind and imagination! An old friend sent me a couple of photos from when we were at school (the first being my 17th birthday and they surprised me with cake in English class, the second being our last day at high school). How young we were, just at the threshold of life.
I posted the photo to my instagram account and was asked
“Curious…if you could share anything about the journey of growing up with the girl in this pic now, what would it be?”
which got me thinking about what would I say to the girl in that picture. I replied with the following :
“I’ve always wondered what I’d do differently if I had my time again (answer = most of it!) but been giving your qu some thought and through all the mistakes and wrong decisions and poor behaviour and choices, I keep coming back to the same thing: Stay true to you, don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t, you don’t have to overcompensate, you are enough and make the best decisions for the right reasons when you remember that 🙏💖 oh and the world is there to be seen and experienced so go and do both!!! ✨”
I’ve been think about this question ever since. If I could have my time again what would I do differently; answer is pretty much everything! It was then that I realised that conclusion was was a pretty sad state of affairs, because the my choices have led me to where I am now.
Remembering back to when I was 17, who I was and what I wanted, and reflecting on the path that has led me to today, I can see that very little of what I have done and achieved has really been in line with that girl.
I didn’t want to marry or have children. I wanted to travel. Up until I was 17 I wanted to go to Glasgow School of Art and from age 10 I wanted to be an interior designer, but then self doubt made its presence known along with the comparison to other people. From then I wanted to be a woman with power and authority. I craved independence and the desire to “fly the nest” so sought out university courses which would lead to high flying careers (of course I picked the wrong university, the wrong course and so dropped out). I also harboured dreams of being arrested(!) but for something worthy and for a good cause, like protesting or doing something radical for Greenpeace. I remember striving for approval, yet wanting and needing to be “different”. I hated societal confines and knew there had to be more; I was capable of more, but more of what?? I loved most things alternative but was chained to convention, a chain that took years to finally break. It took several bouts of illness and a permanent health condition and numerous well paid but highly stressful to finally stop and reassess. I spent years in the barren lands chasing dreams that weren’t really mine, repeating the same mistakes over and over again, instead of years in the wilderness following my truth.
Now forty and I am once again taking stock and reassessing where and who I am. It’s like I’m back at the start of knowing and understanding who I am but with the lived experience behind me. No I don’t still want to go to Glasgow School of Art and become an interior designer, but I am still creative and need to express that. I know what I want to do, am just finding the confidence to push past the inposter complex to achieve my dreams.
Instead of being sad and melancholy over what ifs or shoulds, I am grateful for the experiences I have had and the lessons learned as I am sat here, a woman who has lived, loved, lost and laughed. A lot! I am who I am because of me. I can’t change my past, but I can learn from it and grow from there. This second half of life will be all the richer for it.
Looking back, while I strayed way off course from my true north and made highly questionable choices, I can say that no, I wouldn’t change it. I
like love me and who I am today, and I love my family. Who is to say I would be that lucky if I had taken a different route.
Now it’s my turn to ask you: If you could turn back time, would you?