What I would have told my 20-something self, had I known then…
Life has a way of coming full circle in unexpected ways, which continues to provide fertile soil for personal growth and exploration. This happened to me recently and it made me reflect on how a decision I made 20-something years ago, which was seemingly out of character, has not only changed the trajectory of my life but continues to bless me even today. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self? One of life’s unexpected invitations created a ripple effect of events that crescendoed into something delightful, and the ride is not done yet! But, I’ll get to that in a moment…Here are 4 things I would have told my 20-something self, had I known then, what I know now:
1. How you see yourself is a limited perspective of who you really are.
Forget about everyone else or what external sources may think or expect from you. I’m talking about our very own perspective of ourselves. Nobody else’s! The image you have of yourself truly is a very limited perspective of who you truly are. For example, never in my wildest dreams have I would have thought of myself as a beauty queen or someone that can have a long-lasting and meaningful impact on other people. I grew up in a time when children were seen, not heard. Yet, over the years, I have been able to see a glimpse of a fuller expression of whom I am and have learned to become more comfortable with the dynamic multi-dimensional human being that is: Me. Not only have I grown in confidence in ways that afford me to be seen, but also to be heard. This may come more naturally to some than to others, but it does not come easily for me. However, it shows the importance of taking time for self-exploration as only you can truly excavate the authentic and essential depths of who you are.
2. There is power in saying “No” as well as in saying “Yes!”
We’ve all heard that one bad decision can change the rest of your life. Rarely do we hear about the one right decision that changes the trajectory of your life journey. That decision fundamentally begins and ends with either a “Yes” or a “No.” As someone who is quite comfortable with putting up boundaries and say “No”, which has served me well, over the years I have opened up to stepping beyond my boundaries and saying “Yes” more than I ordinarily would. One year, my motto was “I will say 'Yes' to things that I normally say 'No' to” and it allowed me to meet people and visit places that I would never have otherwise. As a result, I have a greater appreciation for the intuitive “Yes” that on the surface may lack rationale, but creates a spark of spontaneity and excitement. It has delivered unchartered experiences for me, within myself, and with others. There is power in saying both “No” and “Yes.” It's important to master when and how you decide to use them.
3. Stepping out of your comfort zone is where the adventures lie.
Ahhh…the coziness of our comfort zone can be like a warm blanket on a cold day keeping us toasty as we snuggle up to watch a movie. Stepping out of your comfort zone can feel like zip lining in the rainforest 250 ft off the ground when you are afraid of heights. when I said “Yes” to run for Miss St. Croix 1994-95, it was like nothing I had done before and as terrifying as when my daughter challenged me to ziplining in St. Kitts. During both experiences, I was engulfed in fear but decided to do it anyway. I survived! Not only did I survive, but these were times in my life that served as quantum leaps in my growth as a person, broadened my limited perspective of how I saw myself and how others saw me. They allowed me to create meaningful experiences for those that choose to go on the adventure with me.
4. Everything is timing, even when you do not know the time.
Over the last 20-something years, I have been a member of a very exclusive group of less than 100 women that have reigned as Miss St. Croix and served as Ambassadors for our beautiful little island in the Caribbean. The year I ran was the last possible year that I could run because of the age requirement. So, if I did not run this time, I would miss my time.
The timing then was much like, when Shomari Hayes, Assistant Director of Festival recently approached me to do a photo shoot. The initial reaction in my head was “I’m no model. I’m too old. I’ve gained weight….”etc., etc., etc. My inner critic was blasting in my head. But as he explained his creative vision, the walls that were quickly being prepared for the boundaries that accompany a “No,” gracefully dissipated. I heard myself say “Yes.” The timing was everything! Once again, it was time for me to step out of my comfort zone, trust the process, and let the adventure begin.
This adventure of life has a wonderful way of coming full circle. I look back on my 20-something self in awe at the decisions she has made, especially as Miss St. Croix, and how those decisions have changed my life. I am thankful because the seeds she planted along the way have shaped the person I am today. Now, my daughter is 20-something and I hope that the lessons I’ve sowed along the way will not only harvest beautiful life adventures for me, but also for her and my community.
I invite you to join us for the Crucian Christmas Festival this December. Say "Yes" and let the cultural adventure begin. The time is now.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/USVIFestivals/.