So anyone that knows me knows that Compassion International is one of my favorite organizations on the planet. I've been a sponsor for years and an Advocate with them for the past three-plus years. I value their commitment to the gospel and meeting needs of "the least of these" through local churches in the countries where they work. This year, I'm taking things one step further and participating in their Blogging for Compassion campaign.
The topic for the week was to write a blog post to your childhood self. I have to admit, I've been thinking on this since the topic was assigned on Tuesday. There is SO MUCH I would choose to tell myself (and subsequently do differently) but I think there are four broad areas my advice would fall under: you are more than your appearance, try new/different things, appreciate people who aren't like you, and your parents aren't idiots.
First, and probably most importantly, you are more than your appearance. I struggled with (and still struggle with) finding my identity in how I looked. I was the kid who was overweight, had crazy hair and didn't wear the trendiest clothes. As I've gotten older, I've discovered most people who truly matter in life don't give a thought to my weight, hair or clothes. They care about ME as a person and see past the superficial. I would remind my younger self that God created me exactly how He wanted me to be and as long as I was treating my body in a healthy manner, I was fine. It's not an easy lesson to learn but oh the heartache learning that lesson could have prevented.
Second, I would tell myself to try new and different things. I was fortunate in that parents supported me doing different things but there were lots of experiences I was "afraid" to try. In some respects it wasn't fear in the usual sense - I'm not talking daredevil activities - it was a fear of failing at something. I'm a perfectionist by nature and trying stuff outside my comfort zone means I might not be good at it. I wish I'd taken an art class or a speech class or attempted to do some sort of foreign exchange program in college. Sure, I might not have been successful but there are so many lessons learned in failures.
Third, gain an early appreciation for people who aren't like you. This can take SO MANY forms. I attended a private school and the education was excellent but all the people were just like me. The trend continued somewhat through college. I've had to force myself out of my comfort zone to meet people from different backgrounds, ethnic groups, belief systems, etc. I've learned so much about myself and others from interacting with people who challenge my beliefs and worldview. Sometimes my opinions have changed, other times, my opinions have been strengthened. The important thing is that I wish I had come to this realization earlier - there's a big world out there and the more we can appreciate each other, the better we'll all be.
Finally, realize earlier than your parents aren't idiots. I didn't think this very often but in the teenage years, there were times. I realize now the wisdom I've gained from listening to my parents' advice over the years. I love that they are and always have been willing to give advice. I'm just smart enough now to listen and follow that advice. :-)
So there you have it, four lessons I would tell my younger self. There's probably a lot more I could explore but I don't want an overwhelmingly long post.