Thought Experiment

Last week a friend mentioned a scenario during driving at night that made him think of his 16-year-old self and how the feelings from then are very different from the feelings of now. I thought that was interesting, and being me, I ran with it. So I have two questions for you to ponder:

  1. What do you think your 16-year-old self would think of the life you have?
  2. How do you think you would feel if you lived the life your 16-year-old self envisioned?

When I think of my 16-year-old self, I acknowledge that I was both mature for my age and quite naive and sheltered. My younger self would be proud that I left my hometown. That I went to college and graduate school. I have a much better job and have achieved more things than my younger self could have imagined.. My 16-year-old self wasn’t sure what she was going to major in, but what I’m doing now would seem like a foreign language she didn’t want to take. But I love it.

My younger self would be surprised and maybe a bit disappointed (I am, too, sometimes) that I had only one child. I don’t think she knew much about infertility other than what she read in her great-grandmother’s magazines when she was a child. Another way in which I was both precocious and naive. But my own precocious only is loved. Very much loved.

My younger self would not have imagined a pandemic, quarantine and subsequently, the death of a spouse at an early age. Hell, I’m not sure my current self can encompass all of that yet.

But I hope my younger self would be proud of how resilient I am. I’ve been through infertility, pandemics, death of a spouse, diagnoses…and I’m still standing (and I just knocked on wood and threw salt. Please do the same). Sometimes people think that these adversities are bad things. I don’t see them that way. Yes, they suck. Don’t get me wrong. But, I feel like they have molded and shaped me into a better, stronger person. When you know darkness, you appreciate the light that much more. When you feel at your lowest, you appreciate the highs exquisitely. I’m not saying I would have asked for those experiences, but I accept and value them. They are formative experiences. And I hope they have made me into a better, richer person.

Conversely, I don’t think I would have liked the life my 16-year-old self envisioned. It was free from adversity. It was spoiled. It was charmed. And life isn’t like that as I have learned over and over again. Her life was wish fulfillment. And I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. It’s just…well…unrealistic. And my 16-year-old self didn’t know that.

Would I change anything? No. I believe strongly that life lessons are taught for a reason or at the very least, you can learn from what you experience. It’s a journey.

Some churches and very rich private homes have spaces dedicated to a labyrinth. You can walk the space and pray or whatever. I like that idea. I’d walk the labyrinth because it symbolizes a purposeful, yet possibly meandering journey and an overall depiction of wholeness. I get that. I really get that. I know where I want to go, and I know where I’ve been, but it may take me a while to get there. And that’s OK.

One comment

  1. Love this question! My 16 year old self had hoped to die… so they might be a bit disappointed. OTOH, there were dreams of kids and escaping arranged marriages and all that–so they might be intrigued by my journey as well.

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