Lessons from my younger self

I’ve seen lots of people write what advice they would give to their younger self. Reflecting on their hard won life lessons and what they wish they had known when they were younger. It’s got me thinking of the younger version of me. Rather than giving advice to the younger version of me I think the person I used to be could maybe teach me a thing or two.

When I was 20 years old I did a summer internship in Caracas, Venezuela working for a charity. My job involved going into large oil companies and interviewing them about their work on corporate social responsibility. I’m amazed that I got on a plane and headed into the unknown to do this. I didn’t know the language. I didn’t know where I was going to be living or anybody in the city. It was a complete leap of faith.

Caracas is an incredible and mind blowing city, especially as I wasn’t very well travelled at the time. I can’t speak to Venezuela’s current economic problems as I was here in 2000. My experience of the city was that there were extremes of wealth and poverty. There were compound like gated communities of privilege surrounded by areas of real deprivation. The developed centre of the city is in a valley and the hillsides around it are surrounded by barrios – these are informal neighbourhoods like the favelas that you might have seen in Rio. It was easy to take a wrong turn and end up somewhere a bit dicey!

I want to high five 20 year old me and tell her I’m really proud of her. I rented a room in the house of a German woman. I took the bus and subway around the city every day. I ventured out in the evenings to get pizza and meet friends. I got by on my microscopic amount of Spanish. Caracas has a reputation as a dangerous city but I somehow managed not to get mugged despite being a very obvious target for street criminals.

The moment that really stands out is a day when the receptionist from my workplace, Karen, invited me to come to her house for her birthday. We had a hilarious friendship – most of the time we couldn’t understand each other as neither of us really spoke the other’s language. Karen said she would meet me and take me to her home as it was a complicated to get there. I didn’t realise that she actually lived in the heart of the barrio. This was a place that was supposed to be a complete no go area for tourists and I had been warned it was very unsafe to visit. It started to dawn on me by the second bus trip where we were going and I was really nervous. However it was an amazing experience. I was welcomed so warmly into her family’s home and met lots of her relatives, had cake and played with the children. When I got home and told my German landlady where I’d been her jaw hit the floor in shock.

I’ve had a dig around to find some old photos from my time in Venezuela.  They are not great quality but here I am with some of my work colleagues (and a random short haircut!).

VenezuelaSOCSAL Venezuela

Fast forward to today – do I still have an adventurous spirit? Am I as brave as I used to be?  I’m starting to wonder if I’m a bit too secure in my comfort zone. I have worked for my current employer for over 10 years. I live in a village that I love but hate the idea of moving anywhere else. I am a creature of habit and tend to go to the same places over and over again. I challenged myself recently to learn to drive.  Unfortunately I failed my test at the end of last year.  I’ve had a total bravery fail and not rebooked my test or any more lessons yet. I need 20 year old me to give me a kick my butt and tell me to keep going!

I definitely have a different perception of risk than I used to. I anticipate the things that could go wrong and prepare for every eventuality in a way my optimistic lets go for it younger self never did.  When I was young and intrepid I would embrace and seek out the unknown in a way that I don’t tend to do very often anymore. I obviously need to be more responsible now that I have 3 children. It is one thing to get in a bit of a tricky fix on your own but the consequences of getting into a difficult situation with 3 kids are quite a different.  But I can’t help questioning am I playing it too safe?

I have moments of everyday bravery. I take my 7 year old and my 3 year old twins out on my own quite frequently, normally when my husband is working and we are getting bored at home. Taking my tribe on the train or out to lunch is not for the faint hearted and I always feel a sense of achievement when a day out goes well. Surviving the early days of having twin babies made me find new depths of strength and resourcefulness that I didn’t know I had.

I’m not going to go back packing any day soon but for 2016 I want to look for ways to get in touch with my inner 20 year old adventurer. There must be ways in my day to day life I can step out of my comfort zone more and explore the unknown. I think it would be really fun to try and have some family adventures this year. Maybe if we can capture that fearless spirit it will inspire my kids in the future to go on crazy adventures of their own.
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22 thoughts on “Lessons from my younger self

  1. I loved this post. I was an adventurer and travelled form NZ to Asia to Europe as a single mum and loved every minute. I was so adventurous but now i’m sick and stuck int he house. I struggle and hope to get back out there again. Man, I even bungee jumped off a bridge and flew to different islands, sailed across the pacific and that was many moons ago but i loved it! Angela. I think being a mum puts certain stones in our path and that is a whole new kind of bravery and adventure!
    Angela at Daysinbed recently posted…How to Make PancakesMy Profile

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Angela – you’ll be out there island hopping and bungee jumping again!

  2. Awww, what a lovely insightful post. It is amazing how we change as we grow. I suppose now you have children and you’ve settled down, you are more wary about taking chances. Life not only changes as we get older but when we have kids too. Get rebooking that driving test, you can do it!!

    Gemma xx

    1. Thank you Gem – I think I’m still an adventurer at heart but haven’t quite figured out how to mix it up with being a responsible parent. I promise I’ll sort out the driving test very soon. x

  3. This was such a pleasure to read and articulates some of the things I’ve been feeling lately too. My first trip overseas was to spend a year in Korea teaching english, looking back I can’t believe how brave I was to do that. I feel a bit like I’ve stopped dreaming big now that my time and resources are limited by parenting and I’m a bit sad that I don’t have any wild adventurous plans for my future. I’m also a non-driver, afraid of failing the test and procrastinating about learning, so I hear you on that front too! Thanks for the food for thought, I shall be giving some thought to how I can start to develop my adventurous spirit again.
    Robyn recently posted…Roasted Carrots With Chili and ThymeMy Profile

    1. Glad it’s not just me! I know I can’t be off travelling the world at the drop of a hat but I feel like I might have gone too far the other way and am now way too risk adverse.

  4. What an adventurer you were, but life changes and I suppose maybe because you have children now that your more unwilling to do those same things again. It’s crazy how times change and people especially can change light years.

    1. We took my daughter to Ecuador when she was little but I’m a bit daunted of adventurous travelling with my twins. I’m thinking I need to inject a bit of adventure into day to day life.

  5. I think as we grow up fear becomes a much bigger part of our life. What an experience to have and memories. I would love to have a adventure this year with the kids, what annoys me though is that so many places don’t cater easily for 3 kids.

    1. I totally had the confidence of youth. I kind of wish I could tap into it more. Totally irks me that places are not very accommodating of 3 children families.

  6. I really enjoyed reading this post. Sounded like you had quite the adventure in Venezuela. I seem to have become a pansy since having children. I over think things to much. X

  7. Wow what a life you led, how amazing to remind yourself. I think for me when I had children it took alot of my confidence, I think I have it in different ways now but I wish I was living life a little more like I was like you were at a similar time xx

    1. Thank you Kara – I know what you mean. I think I’m confidence in that I can cope with a lot that life can throw at me but I definitely stick to things I know a bit too much.

  8. This is a great post and it’s nice to read something where someone is giving themselves a bit of praise, so many talk about how they would do things differently where you are celebrating was you did do. You were very brave, I’m not sure I could have done something like that. You are right to seek out that inner adventurer and I’m sure you will find ways to invest that into daily life.

    1. It is such a logistical challenge with three kids isn’t it. Potty training while out and about is completely freaking me out at the moment! Let’s go for it this year!

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