Oct 16, 2017

Life This Week 16/10/2017: A Letter to 20 Year Old Me.



Dear SSG,

Hello from the future.  I'm writing to you as a 42 year old and there's so much that I think you should know both about your life as it is now and what the future will hold.

Let's start with you as you are now.  Congratulations on getting through the hardest year of your six year course.  Your year as an intern a few years later will not be as scary as you think it is right now.  It will take you a while to figure out what you want to do long-term with medicine and you will stumble with your specialist exams.  The failures will hurt your pride badly and you will feel that life will never get better but it will and it did.  The failures taught you to both be a better person and also a better colleague.  It also taught you to reflect that if failing an exam was the worst possible thing to happen to you in your twenties then you actually had a pretty good and lucky life.

It's actually the exams that took you across the country to Sydney from Perth.  A new network and new focus sees you pass the exams, complete advanced training with relative ease and then achieve your next goal of being a staff specialist in a teaching hospital.  You will be blessed to work in two amazing departments with heads of departments who both encourage and motivate you.  Things fall into place, Sydney loves you as much you love it and you find your groove as a boss.  Rumour has it some of the juniors even like working on your team in a specialty that many may not have thought to be interesting / rewarding / glamorous or fun.  Though you never work out whether it's your charisma or the tin of barley sugars you carry on ward rounds that holds the appeal.

You will be a doer rather than a thinker.  Research won't be your thing and that's okay.  It takes doers and thinkers to make a department work and you commit fully to what you can do best.

The other thing that occupies a large amount of your headspace at the moment is why you're still single.  It's a complex that sees you look inwardly with a hypercritical eye.  You're too independent, (nothing wrong with that),  you're too selfish with your time (ditto), you're an overzealous worshipper at the altar of luxe labels (yeah well, that gets a bit better over the years in that you buy less but then you end up spending more on them).  Your future you will wear her bags like armour...  and as a distraction to the orthotic style shoes she wears because she's too wimpy to suffer a day in more flattering high heels.

It's true that no one actually asks you out but it's also true that you don't go out of your way to engage with them either.  You will get that white wedding you so badly wanted.  You will also find yourself divorced with a young child whom you love with every fibre of your being but who also challenges you daily to be the best person you can be when it's often easier to be the not so great.

The whole journey shapes you in ways that you will still discover in the years that pass afterward.  You survived and dare I say thrived.  You will surprise yourself by how easily you move forward from the past and how infrequently you look back on it.  You are also incredibly blessed by the level of support that make this possible for you.  You will not take this for granted and your life will be enriched by all these people you will form deeper relationships with.

There may yet be a fairytale ending to your love life but in the meantime, you're very happy with the life you have and remain socially awkward.  You will embrace Uber, Uber Eats, Whats App, Instagram and Facebook while giving Tinder and Bumble a wide berth.

Being forty-something is not as horrible as you think it is.  You are ironically more comfortable in your flawed but well lived in skin (and joints) in 2017 than you were in way back in 1995 with that (relatively) good twenty-year-old face and body.  If you don't mind me saying (but I know you will), you're so taking that face and body for granted, darl.  And while we're on the topic... leave your hair alone.  Do not chemically straighten it.  Do not get those red highlights.  But I know you'll choose to ignore this and learn the hard way.  Along with the repeated times when you will purchase evening wear that just doesn't suit your body type.  It will take you until you're 37 to embrace both your hair in its natural state and the perfection that is a Camilla kaftan worn as evening wear.

Before I go, though, I'd also like to thank you for:

  • taking pretty good care of yourself - it's really paying off now as I have to face such things as getting life insurance medicals done and people around me are facing harrowing medical diagnoses. 
  • taking up yoga, I'm finally getting back into regular practice and my whole body is feeling the better for it
  • learning from all those mistakes and bad choices
  • persisting
  • for both having realistic dreams and working towards them steadily
  • for writing creatively in your spare time long after your high school days.  It's what started me off writing this blog which occupies a special place in my heart and life. 

All my love and see you on the other side.

SSG XXX

23 comments:

  1. Oh my god, I love this. Cos: 1. there's a lot I didn't know about you; and 2. I love the reassuring tone. I wish we could be as kind to ourselves in the moment (real-time) as we are in retrospect.... but of course we never learn that stuff until it's too late.

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    1. I agree, Deborah. We do need to be kinder to ourselves in the moment and not just in hindsight when it can be too late.

      SSG xxx

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  2. Awww! This is lovely! Loved learning more about you through this letter SSG. LOL re "you're an overzealous worshipper at the altar of luxe labels"

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    1. Thank you, Leanne. Really loved your post too.

      SSG xxx

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  3. Love this: The whole journey shapes you in ways that you will still discover in the years that pass afterward. You survived and dare I say thrived. You will surprise yourself by how easily you move forward from the past and how infrequently you look back on it. I find it interesting how this so huge, no matter how devastating or life altering, one way or another get dealt with. Nice post

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  4. Hindsight is nice, isn't it? If only I could go back and tell myself to stop cutting my hair short "just to see if it works this time". It's never going to work. You have fluffy hair. Deal with it.
    Sorry. Do we ever grow out of being socially awkward? I was hoping that might go away with age.

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    1. Thank you for getting the being socially awkward thing!

      SSG xxx

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  5. I normally read your blog via feedly so never even see the comments box, but had to click through today to write and say thank you. I'm a good decade behind you in age, but reading today made me think about what I was like as a bullish, determined, unfazed 20 year old and how far I've come since then. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Shey, thank you ever so much for taking the time to click through and comment here.

      SSG xxx

      Delete
  6. So beautifully written, It was great to find out some more about you.

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  7. Oh god yes, the hair thing. I had so many bad perms! Sounds like you've achieved a lot so the hair thing is relatively unimportant.

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    1. Oh the hair, I'm still cringing over mine.

      SSG xxx

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  8. Loved this post SSG! It's fascinating isn't it how differently we look at things in hindsight? I was just chatting with my friend about it on the weekend.

    I never could have pictured my life as it is now even just 10 years ago, never mind 20. It would be an interesting practice to make a letter like this every decade!

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    1. Mica,

      I love that idea of writing a letter like this each decade!!

      SSG xxx

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  9. Well, that was most enlightening - I had no idea about your medical training and your relationship story - so interesting to get to know you a little bit better!

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  10. Well, if that wasnt a wonderful post I do not know what would be. I too, like those commenters before me, loved reading your letter and getting to know more about you. I found doing mine was quite a challenge but I kind of congratulated myself having done it because 'yay, I have survived, thrived and lived'. I found your professional reflections particularly interesting and 'get those' too from an education perspective. This was a joy to read!! Thanks for linking up for Life This Week 40/52. Next week: With $1000 I would...

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    1. Denyse, thank you for your kind and lovely words.

      SSG xxx

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