Our latest book club pick is called "What Alice Forgot" (Liane Moriarty). The story begins with Alice "coming to" after a fall off a bike in spin class. Alice thinks she is a 29 year old blissfully happy newlywed awaiting the birth of her first child, when in reality she is a 39 year old nearly-divorced mother of 3. Somehow she has misplaced the last 10 years of her life. She can't remember her three children, her decision to quit her job and be a stay-at-home mom or her seemingly perfect marriage falling apart. And what the heck is she doing in a spin class anyway? Exercise is a 4-letter word!!! At one point, Alice commented "How is it possible that SO MUCH has changed in just 10 years?". It got me thinking....just how much HAS life changed in the last 10 years? If I suddenly found myself in the same situation as poor Alice, what would I have missed?
This time 10 years ago I was 28 and adjusting to married life having just moved into our "supposed to be for only 3-5 years" new home (which we still live in today). Makenna was nearly 4 and Erin was soon to become a rapidly dividing cluster of cells. I was 10 lbs lighter, my hair was long and red and my face showed none of the not-so-charming "character lines" (sure, let's call them that) which I notice in every single picture that is taken of me these days. I had never sent a text message, posted on Facebook or watched a YouTube video. Use my cell phone to "google" something? What on earth are you talking about?
I drove a 2001 5-speed Chevy Cavalier. The farthest I had ever run was from the car to the grocery store in a rainstorm. I was shy, had very little self-confidence and was terrified of public speaking. I wanted to have two more children. My parents and brother lived 10 minutes away. I did work in Real Estate and I was well on my way to my best year ever. Once I discovered I was pregnant, I tried to work as hard as I could to ensure that I would be able to take a year off after "Baby Halter" arrived, since paid mat leave was not something I could take advantage of as a Self Employed person. I sold more than 40 homes that year - a milestone I have never reached (nor wanted to reach) since. For the past 10 years, my "career" has taken a backseat to my family - a decision I haven't once regretted.
What has changed in the past 10 years? Everything! If you had told me 10 years ago that I would learn to run, perform in 4 dance shows at the Living Arts Centre, discover a passion for writing or find my calling as a "motivational speaker" of sorts, I would have thought you were crazy. Surely this can't be the same person that used to throw up on "School Speech Day" every year? Fundamentally, I am the same person now that I was 10 years ago. So how can I be so very different?
I really think, for the most part, life doesn't get going until 30. Up until then you are dealt an ever changing hand of cards, and your future slowly takes shape as you decide which cards to hold and which cards to fold. *Cue Kenny Rogers* You are so busy trying to figure out what you're doing, whether you're doing it right and what everyone else thinks of what you're doing, that you can't even decide whether or not you actually like doing it. I know, for me, after 30 things started to come together. I found my voice. I found my self-confidence. I cared less what everyone thought of me and more about what I wanted. The person I was becoming bore little resemblance to the person I was trying so hard to be when I was in my 20s.
I am only about 1/3 of the way through the book so I have no idea what becomes of Alice and her 29 year old self trapped in a 39 year old life that she doesn't remember choosing. Those 10 years of life lessons that Alice lost? I'm pretty thankful I learned them. If I could somehow rewind the clock 10 years and say anything to my 28 year old self I think it would be :
Dear 28 Year Old Me:
- Even though you think you've got it figured out, you don't.
- Stop sweating the small stuff and just live.
- You may not love your body, but take care of it and it will take you anywhere.
- Money means nothing. Find your passion and live it.
- You are stronger than you give yourself credit for.
- Ten years from now you will wish you had started today.
- You are important too.
- Giving your kids memories is more important than giving them "stuff"
- Sometimes, it's OK to say NO.
- Oh, and start writing things down because all that stuff you think you will remember forever will be fuzzy at best in ten years. Even if you take a million pictures of it.
Love, the 38 Year Old You.
PS You Rock! Tell yourself this often.