At the ripe old age of almost-53, I feel like I’m getting life. I feel confident that my wisdom is growing, and, as we know, I am Becoming. This smidgen of life experience now allows me to comfortably offer advice to earlier iterations of Maggie, and perhaps to my daughters, friends, and all the women who are forging bravely through this life.
Maggie at 20: RE-LAX. Sweetie you have shingles. Stahp! Here’s an idea, you know that counseling center down the hill? Maybe go have a chat with someone there! Perhaps, you shouldn’t have an old person’s disease at 20. Also, hang in there Prozac will be available in 1987.
Thirty-two years later, here are the words of wisdom: If what you are doing in life is causing you so much stress that you have shingles, stop doing that. More importantly and this is one for the ages, if you are doing anything in life and you don’t want to stop (this does not apply to serial killing) don’t apologize, don’t feel bad or stress, do it and embrace it. If you can’t embrace your behavior, Don’t. Do. It.
Dear Maggie at 30: You are a talented writer. Appreciate your work and don’t let the good ol’ boys in engineering land make you feel inadequate. Do you remember that time you were walking down the hall to an interview and you thought, “I wonder when they will figure out I have no idea what I’m doing?”, remember that? Here’s the answer, Never. They will never figure it out because you actually know what you’re doing even if you are just a woman in a male-dominated industry. And just so you know, you aren’t quite done with engineering but you will be and they will miss you but you won’t miss them.
Currently, women are living in an historical time, and hopefully one day this sort of advice will no longer be needed.
40-year-old Maggie: You don’t have to do it all on your own. You are a good friend, a loving mother, daughter, and sister. Rely on the people who rely on you. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel loss. Don’t protect people from your pain, they want to help. Let the world in when it feels like you’re all alone. You’re going to have to rinse and repeat on this one because it doesn’t come naturally to you to be cared for when you pride yourself on being the caretaker. A lot of women are wired this way, that why there are books like “Women Who Do Too Much”, “Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much”, “Wine for Women Who Do Too Much”, etc.
And all of you: work hard and be nice!
Editor’s Note: If you had advice for younger iterations of yourself, what would it be? And do you heed or practice that advice today? Talking to your younger self — yes, it’s a little cra-cra — allows you to see how far you’ve come. It demonstrates how confident and wise you are now, and offers anticipation for continued growth. It’s a great place to be.
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“Find out what you think by talking to yourself..”
― Richard Harris
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