Recently I came across some true gold, buried in my parents’ basement – a school journal from 1994. I quickly immersed myself in my 7-year-old life, approaching it the same way as when faced with a new box of Oreos: needing to devour it at once yet wanting to savor every last tiny morsel. So that’s what I did. I read it out loud, page-by-page, wanting to speed read and skip ahead to see what’s next but kept cool and reserved to cherish my youngster words. My lucky husband got to pause his show and his work for the night until I made it through the whole year, as I shared my most personal childhood confessions, likes and dislikes, and pretty much every little detail that ever happened to me in 1994. What can I say? I was always a writer and didn’t want to miss a thing.
As I smiled, gasped, and laughed so hard I actually cried (not just as in the expression…there were tears), I realized there were so many raw, honest truths from my 7-year-old self that apply to me today. I’ll share excerpts from my journal that coincide with my top 15 lessons that I learned from my 7-year-old self.
15 Lessons From My 7-Year-Old Self
Revisit your old passions: “My favorite subjects are: writing, writing stories, reading, listening to stories…I’m going to write a story called The Witch and the Villager and I’m writing one now called The Crayon and the Spookhouse.”
When you’re a kid, you have all the time and freedom in the world to pursue your passions. Between your imagination running free, little-to-no self-awareness, and no judgment from your peers, you were free to collect rocks, bugs, and write stories to your heart’s content. As we grow up, we lose sight of some of our interests; life, people, and possibly fear of judgment get in the way, but it’s time to revisit your old passions and find time to resurrect them!
Make time for social activities: 1994 was filled with lots of events, such as Aladdin on Ice, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (where we went backstage after the show), Snow White on Ice, Grease the musical, Medieval Times, bon fires, horseback riding, birthday parties, and sleepovers, not to mention four trips we took that year.
Just because you’re a “responsible adult,” doesn’t mean all of your weekends have to be filled with cleaning the house and running errands. Make it a point to do something social, and perhaps out of the ordinary, with your family and friends. Bonus points if your activity happens on ice, like many of mine did growing up.
Celebrate your strengths, be aware of your weaknesses: “I was asked to move up on my gymnastics team. In soccer, Maggie and I are the best on our team. We always score because we pass to each other. I know how to spell a really hard word. I’ll spell Turquoise. On my homework, I’m having trouble doing math. Can you help me with frames and arrows?”
Why do we feel scared to admit our strengths as we grow up? Celebrating your strengths doesn’t mean you’re boasting – embrace and share them with others! Equally as important is being self-aware and recognizing your weaknesses. Ask for help and make room for yourself to grow. (That’s the infamous Maggie in the picture with me below!)
Don’t limit relationships by age: “I just got engaged to a first grader. He gave me a ring. It’s so pretty. I’m getting married on Melinda’s birthday.” And, “I made new friends at gymnastics – they are a lot older than me and I like them.”
Age is just a number. Don’t feel constrained by someone’s age if you’re interested in a friendship or relationship. Focus on the qualities of the person, not their birth year.
Practice makes perfect: I often talk about practicing the piano, gymnastics, and soccer. “After gymnastics practice, I went home and did a hand stand flip flop flip flop.”
Sure I rolled my eyes behind my mom’s back when she yelled “WRONG” from the kitchen as I hit an incorrect note during piano practice. Sure I felt tired sometimes after gymnastics and soccer practices, but guess what? It really is true that practice makes perfect. If you don’t practice skills, you’ll lose them. I wish I would have kept up conversational Spanish – I was one class short of minoring in it in college, and because I didn’t practice it after graduation, my skills are definitely limited.
Be kind and accepting: “I made a new friend. Her name is Beth. Everyone is mean to Beth but me. Everyone thinks she’s weird. I think she’s nice.”
Kindness wins. Always. Is there a new person at work who eats alone? Ask her to join you for lunch! Are your co-workers gossiping about a colleague’s bad sense of fashion? Stand up for her and change the topic. Learn how to respond to negativity with kindness and about how moms can be mean girls in the adult world.
Take an audit of the people in your life: Was anyone really into making lists of things as a kid? I mean, like, everything? Lists of colors, songs, movies, friends, etc.? Me, too. Make a note of the people you surround yourself with or possibly who you admire. Is everyone on that list enhancing your life? If not, it might be a good idea to reconsider everyone’s placement in your life.
(Yes, that’s Donny Osmond and Johnny Seaton in my picture and on my People I Like list. And yes, Buddy Holly made the list, too.)
Have confidence: “Ryan, Garret, and Nick kept asking me to dance. They kept bugging me and following me around but I said No! Garret’s big brother asked me to dance. I think he’s cute but still said no, I’ll dance with him next year. I bet he can’t wait until then.”
To be honest, I’m kind of tired of hearing magazines and the media tell women to have confidence because men love it! Can’t we have confidence because we value ourselves and are proud of ourselves, for ourselves? Yes, we can! Show your confidence, even if it is to yourself at the end of the day in your journal.
Try something new: “With my new brownie troop, we went to the woods and I got to taste maple syrup right out of the tree.” 1994 also included a river walk boat tour and fossil hunting.
Did anyone else do really cool things when they were little? Between my parents, school, Girl Scouts, and camp, I was exposed to such unique activities that were not only fun, but also educational. I will always love learning and want to try new experiences as an adult. I think Living Social and Groupon might be a good place to start; I always see the coolest events on there!
Keep an open mind: “I had to go to a Power Ranger thing. My sister and I thought it would be boring, but it turned out it was awesome!”
I used to be extremely social and outgoing when I was younger, through part of college. As I moved into my late 20’s, I became more selective with my social engagements and often found myself turning down invites or going into events with a bad attitude. Keep an open mind because I really do believe in the power of positivity. Have a good attitude going into something you’re not looking forward to because who knows? You just might have fun.
Written correspondence: “My sister and I went to camp. My favorite counselors were Alex and Terry. My sister got their addresses so we can write to them. I have so many other pen pals too!”
Handwritten notes is a lost art, one that I attempt to bring back to life. I have always had stationary since I was a girl so I could write notes to friends, family members, and pen pals. Surprise someone with a handwritten note or a funny card and send it in the mail. Don’t forget about writing heartfelt thank you notes, too.
Make your own fashion statements: “Do you like my hat and dress today? My hat is special because it’s my Easter hat! I tried on a lot of hats but could not find the right one. I love my hat- it sort of matches. I’m glad I got to wear it to school even though nobody else dresses up.”
I love keeping up with fashion trends on Instagram especially, but I firmly believe in wearing what you love and owning it. I have always loved hats and had quite the collection when I was young. Not only baseball caps, which I did also love, but I’m talking flip-up Blossom-style hats and fancy ones too. I would wear them anywhere I pleased, even to school.
Often as women, we call our friends to see what they’re wearing out somewhere so you can make sure you coordinate looks, don’t match, and are on the same level of style. Don’t let someone else’s fashion dictate your outfit – if my sister and I did that, we wouldn’t have been able to rock our equally loud-printed floral dresses, and look how that turned out? Own it!
When you’re sick, focus on the positives: “I took a warm bath and watched Wheel of Fortune. My mom said I could have pop! (I just love being sick!) When I was laying on the couch, I smelled our lilacs and smiled.”
Nobody likes to be ill, but almost worse than being sick is hearing someone complain about it. I swear, adults are worse than kids when it comes to being sick! Try to enjoy the little things when you can, like stirring the bubbles out of Ginger Ale and soaking in a warm bath.
Respond to negativity with kindness: Even when your sister is being a crab and learns to say “shut up” to you, you don’t have to say “shut up” back! Write about your feelings in your journal, and ultimately, respond to her with kindness. That’s when she needs it most.
Take pride in your family: This one is simple, but you can lose sight of it as you grow up and your family spreads in different directions. Remember how important, cute, and special your siblings have always been to you.
Maybe you have your own childhood journal you can dig out, or at the very least, I’d like you to take a trip down memory lane. Share with me your childhood life lessons that apply to you now.