Advice to My Younger Self
By Tanya S. Shelburne
At the age of 41, it’s time to admit that I’ve reached middle age. There are days when I still feel like that self-conscious teenager who has so much to learn about life. And then there are days when I beam with pride at my daughters, embrace my loving husband, and rejoice at my career path. On those days, I am able to reflect on all that I have accomplished and learned along life’s journey thus far. It is in those moments that I realize how truly blessed I am.
Being middle aged means I have acquired some great experiences and have several decades of great memories. And God willing, I have several more decades to learn new skills, make new mistakes, and enjoy many more adventures. The best thing about being middle aged is that you have a decent amount of perspective based on personal experience, and hopefully you still have some time to benefit from your own growing wisdom.
But if I could rewind the clock and dish out some advice to my younger self, these are the 4 big tips that may have served me well to have learned earlier in life.
Advice to My Younger Self…
Believe that you are beautiful.
One day you will have a husband who truly believes and reminds you just how beautiful you are on the inside and outside. You are a very blessed woman to have found this man! But don’t waste your teen and young adult years comparing yourself to other girls or trying to hide your imperfections. Be confident in who you are and how God made you uniquely you.
Make your health a priority.
As you get older it will be harder to change your habits, so adopt healthy habits now that will become second nature. Find ways to make exercise a fun part of your regular routine. Learn to make healthy food choices most of the time so you can enjoy special treats periodically without guilt.
Don’t just expect the unexpected…embrace it!
You’re a planner so this one will be really hard. Life is going to throw some crazy stuff your way that will send the detailed life plan you envisioned in high school right out the window! You won’t get married and have children according to your original timeline. Your career path won’t follow the straight, upward path you anticipated. You will experience extreme despair, but you will get through it and ultimately find unfathomable joy. Embrace the journey and every twist and turn!
Have a little faith.
There will be seasons in your life when you will feel lost and frustrated that your life is not on track. But one day you will hang a sign in your living room that reads, “Faith is not knowing what the future holds but knowing who holds the future.” It will serve as a reminder that God has a plan for you and that you can trust in Him. So stop worrying so much!! And don’t waste your young adult years putting your faith on the back burner. The relationship you develop with God will be the most important relationship of your life, and like all relationships it needs nurturing to flourish.
Maybe my own daughters will read this and gain some wisdom and sound advice for life. Like most mothers, I hope and pray that my daughters won’t have to suffer the same broken hearts, wounded egos, and trampled self-esteem that I and most successful women have endured to become the women they were meant to be. Then again…I guess my girls need to make their own mistakes and figure things out for themselves along the way.
Tanya Shelburne currently serves as the Vice President of Program Development for the Little Red Door Cancer Agency (LRD). She oversees LRD’s Outreach and Education, Screening and Detection, Support Services, and Client Navigation Programs. Tanya is a Certified Health Education Specialist with a Masters in Public Health degree from Indiana University. Her undergraduate degree is in Child Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Child Health from Purdue University.
Prior to joining the staff at LRD in May 2010, Tanya served as the Director of the Office of Women’s Health at the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). Tanya worked at ISDH since 2000 and also served as the INShape Indiana Director, Coordinated School Health Program Director, and Public Education Coordinator for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. Tanya was responsible for coordinating the 2005 and 2007 Indiana Youth Risk Behavior Surveys that provide state data on the behaviors of Hoosier adolescents in six health areas. Tanya also served as the Women’s Cancer Program Director for the YWCA of Greater Lafayette from 1997-2000.
If you would like to participate in our “Advice to My Younger Self” column, email Morgan Clark for information and guidelines!