#DearMe…What I’d Tell My Younger Self

youngleigh3 (2)me in 2000, my first apartment

In honor of International Womens Day this Sunday. I’m joining in on the newest trend, #DearMe. What would you say to your younger self? When I first read about this I thought, “what WOULD I say to my younger self?” I wasn’t quite sure. And, which “me” would I speak to? When I think about my childhood and teenage years, not perfect, but I was okay with myself back then. So I guess I would speak to my 20 year old self, the beginning stage of who I would later become. Me, on the brink of lost naivety. I had high hopes, for myself and for others, and at times, left disappointed. Back then, I thought everyone was about working hard, being successful, having great relationships, and most of all being happy. I was raised by immigrant parents that came to America with almost nothing and worked hard to build a good life. So, once I reached my twenties, I was excited to work hard and build a great life, to continue the path my parents had set for me.

In my twenties I learned that not all people want or are willing to work for a those things. Some take it for granted, and some waste it. When I was a young manager, I couldn’t imagine that someone would have a job and not actually want to do their best every day. It was really shocking to me, why apply for job, go through training, get dressed and come to work when you don’t want to actually do the work? That realization was very disappointing to me and I was constantly trying to encourage poor performers to do better, think about their future and get them excited about even the smallest accomplishment. I drained myself doing this until a mentor I had early in my career explained to me that my success was about helping myself and helping others, but I couldn’t help everyone and shouldn’t try. He explained that not everyone wants to be the best at what they do. He said that although I may want success for others and I may try to save everyone, they won’t all get in the boat. And, that’s okay. Advice I still keep with me today.

I also learned a lot about relationships, especially with family and close friends. These relationships get harder to maintain especially as you get older, and life changes occur. I’ve learned that not everyone is willing to put in the work required to maintain a strong relationship with a brother, sister, cousin or friend. Again, I couldn’t imagine having a brother or sister I don’t speak to regularly or a best friend that I never see, but it happens all of the time. Typically great relationships with siblings or friends seem to happen for those willing to put in the work and fight through the difficult times. We should all focus on maintaining these relationships and enjoy the value they add to our lives. These relationships may seem important in our youth but as we grow they’re extremely important and valuable, but not guaranteed.

Lastly, happiness. It has always been extremely important to me to be happy, positive and maintain a can-do attitude. Not lie to myself when things are bad, but always thinking of my many blessings and determining the path that will take me out of the difficulty I’m facing. I have always tried to pass this on to others and do what I can for those who need me, sometimes to my own detriment. I would tell my younger self to maintain this ideology and attitude but also remember to put myself first, on occasion.

Oh yeah, and I would also tell myself, “Leigh! No matter how much weight you gain when you have your children…do not give any clothes to your sisters! You will get back to your size. Keep your fabulous wardrobe!”

What would you tell your younger self? #DearMe