Lessons to my Younger Self
Today is my 32nd birthday, and as I reflect over the last year of my life, I’m grateful for so much. But the thing I’m most grateful for is the major mindset shifts I’ve made, most of which occurred over the past 18 months. To celebrate, I’m going to bare my soul with the entire internet and share something that I’ve never told anyone before because maybe, just maybe, it can help someone who feels stuck or even worse, hopeless.
I distinctly remember turning 30. I was sad and completely unfilled. Not only did I feel like life was passing me by, I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything in life even though I had a successful career, was making 6 figures, was married, and traveled frequently. I had many of the things society tells us are the trappings of success, yet I still felt empty and unfulfilled.
Although everything was good on the outside, in my heart, I knew I was playing small. I knew I wasn’t living the life I wanted. I had a “good” life, but I was always daydreaming about a different life. A life where I felt like I was in control and making the choices that I really wanted to make, not the choices I felt like I should make.
If I could use only one word to describe my life at the time, the word would be safe. I played everything safe because I was a perfectionist. I was in denial about it, but that’s another story. I constantly worried about what other people would think of me. I wanted to appear like I had it all together when that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
I kept myself in this little box because I wasn’t ready or equipped to deal with the messy or uncomfortable. Being trapped in that little box was suffocating and killed my creativity. That box left me disappointed and anxious that this was how the rest of my life was going to feel.
I wasn’t facing my fears, challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone, or doing any of things I really wanted to do because I was scared. I was scared to be vulnerable, scared to show people who I really was, and most of all, scared to fail. I was scared to share myself with the world because I wasn’t sure I had any value to add.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but it was sometime around the time I hit 30. Something about turning 30 woke me up. Perhaps it was the fact that it seemed like 30 came so fast. Or maybe it because I was just tired of living apathetically. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was, but I just know I finally decided to show up more powerfully. In hindsight, that wasn’t my conscious decision. The word “powerfully” never came to mind. I really just decided to do something—anything.
I didn’t wake up one day and have an epiphany; there wasn’t a lightbulb moment that I can look back on and tell you a grandiose story about the day everything changed for me. That would be a really epic story, but the way-less-sexy truth is, I just started taking small actions each day (and trust me, they were really small at the beginning).
I can’t share everything that’s changed in my life since I turned 30 because it would take too long, and you would stop reading. However, if I could go back in time and talk to twenty-something Chrissy, these are 5 of the lessons I would tell her:
- Stop playing small
I played small for the majority of my twenties. Playing small sucks. It’s the reason I felt unfulfilled. Deep down I knew I was capable of more. I knew there more to life than simply going through the motions. I was tired of looking at other people who seemed to be living their best lives while I watched from the sidelines.
While I realize that everything you see on social media is not real, the truth remained that a lot of people were taking massive actions in their lives, and I just wasn’t. It was never really about what other people were doing; it was about what I wasn’t doing. And I really wasn’t doing anything. I was frozen in inaction.
I would tell my younger self that I’m capable of more than I could possibly imagine so get to work creating. Share your gifts and talents with the world because someone out there is waiting for exactly what you provide. Someone is waiting for you to impact their life. Your work has meaning, and it’s important.
Two weeks ago, I got a message from someone —someone with whom I’m only acquainted through the internet—who made those words truer than I could have ever imagined, and I finally realized how important it is that we share ourselves with the world. It’s actually selfish not to.
2. Stop shrinking
I spent so many years shrinking—shrinking in size, shrinking my voice, and shrinking my goals. I wasted my mental energy thinking how perfect my life would be when I had the “perfect” body or lost 10 more pounds. I never spoke up or voiced my true opinions because I wanted people to like me. If I spoke my truth, I might be “too much” for people. I stopped believing in myself, and as a result, I lowered my expectations for my life.
I would tell my younger self that it’s okay to take up as much space as you want. There’s no magic in shrinking your body to meet societal standards of beauty. Your self-worth and confidence are not dependent on a certain size. I would tell my younger self that my voice matters, and I need to use it to create change in the world. You can create whatever reality you want. The possibilities are limitless. Stop shrinking queen. You were created to be more, not less.
3. Stop apologizing
I used to say sorry for anything and everything that happened during the day, even things that had nothing to do with me. I apologized for my appearance. I apologized when it wasn’t my fault. I apologized for asking questions. I apologized for my feelings. I apologized when someone bumped into me because it was obviously my fault for being in their way. I basically apologized for just existing.
Even worse, I constantly adjusted who I was to be more appropriate or likeable for whomever I was around.
Dear younger self, there’s no reason to say sorry 20 times a day, especially for things that don’t warrant an apology. Stop apologizing for existing and stop changing in an attempt to make yourself more likable. Be your authentic self and let the cards fall where they may.
4. Stop placating and people pleasing
If I had a dollar for every time I agreed with someone when I actually didn’t or said yes to things I really wanted to say ‘no’ to, I’d be sitting on a beach sipping mai tais right now while people waited on my hand and foot. Yes, I was that bad. I never wanted to rock to the boat so it was just easier to go with the flow.
God forbid I was actually honest with someone about hurting my feelings, making me feel uncomfortable, or being an asshole. I couldn’t do that because I really wanted people to like me, and I was scared to use my voice. I never cared to deal with any of the situations in my life because throwing a pity party later just seemed easier.
I would to tell my younger self to unapologetically embrace who you are. Showing up authentically allows us to connect with the people who are supposed to be in our lives. If someone doesn’t appreciate who you are, they probably weren’t meant to be a part of your life. Spend your energy focusing on the people who are supposed to be your life. Cultivate those relationships.
Besides, if you never showing up authentically, people don’t actually like you. They like the person you’re pretending to be. Pretending is exhausting.
Have the difficult conversations. Speak your truth. Accept that some people may choose to walk away.
5. Take more risks.
As a former perfectionist, taking risks wasn’t something I was too fond of. I preferred taking the safe route. The route with no surprises. I thought that safety was comforting, but the truth is, it was anything but comforting. It was suffocating, and it always left me wondering if I was capable of more. As cliché as it sounds, all growth really does occur outside of our comfort zones.
Ask for the raise. Start the blog. Take that solo trip. Follow your passions. Start a business. Try more things. Fail more frequently. These are all the things I would say to my younger self.
At the end of your life, you don’t want to think about the things you wish you would have done. Be bold and courageous and do all the things, even if you mess them all up.
The past 18 months helped me realize something I want everyone to understand. We all have value to add to the world, and the universe is just waiting for us to show up. Embrace the suck because there’s magic on the other side. On the other side, we discover our true selves.
I still don’t have it all figured out— far from it actually. I’m still learning, discovering, and uncovering layers every day. Almost every day I have moments of uncertainty that make me want so run back to safety, but I just keep maneuvering the messy and the uncomfortable, little by little. It gets a tiny bit earlier each day.
Truth be told, I wish I would have applied these lessons much earlier in my life. However, I don’t believe in living in regret, and it’s never too late to start showing up powerfully. I’m 32 years young, and I fully intend to live life HUGE and on my own terms— no more playing it small and more feeling unfulfilled. Here’s to making the rest of my life the best of my life.
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