If you could go back in time to a pivotal point in your young life and give yourself one word/sentence of advice, and know that you would accept the advice, what would it be?That is this week's question from Cafe Devotions (see side bar for button for more questions and other people's answers) and this is one that took a bit of pondering, which does make sense as it wouldn't be worth doing something like this if it didn't make me think!
My first thought was that this question was about regret and wishing that you could go back to that moment in your life when you could change something and as I feel that regret is a wasted emotion I didn't quite know where to begin with this question. I have to point out here that although that is what I feel, I do still have the odd regret here and there as I am only human, but I do believe that you have to live your life as it is rather than bewail the fact that you didn't (or did) do something a few years ago.
So, I had to think a bit harder for this one and have decided that this is about a lesson that took rather longer to learn than expected! And boy, do I have a lesson that took longer to learn than it should have done!
I used to stutter (or stammer if you prefer!), in fact, I still do when I am extremely tired or nervous. But as I grow older and more confident in myself, it doesn't matter that I stutter and so the stuttering actually lessens. You see, this "affliction" is vicious because the more one thinks about it the worse it gets, the more one tenses ahead of a trigger word the worse it gets.
As a teenager, this was painful and I would avoid certain situations if it meant that I didn't have to say anything (more to a group of people than to close friends I mean). I would think of different words in place in the one that I really wanted to say - fortunately it usually worked and I never let it get quite as far as saying "the thing with four legs that goes under the table", but it got close!! I can say that with a smile on my face now and a slight, wry shake of my head, but as a teenager, it really was agony.
Then, I don't quite know when or how it happened, but I decided that it wasn't going to bother me any longer. There was no magic moment or sudden realisation, but I suppose that it occurred to me over a few years (through university and my first few years at work) that it didn't matter any more, if people couldn't wait to hear what I had to say then that was their problem. And as such, the tension built up in my speaking has virtually disappeared and so I rarely stutter these days.
Today this means that I can speak in front of about 100 students, I still shake in my boots and get all nervous and occasionally get all tangled up in my words, but.....it no longer bothers me as I have something to say and you're going to listen!!
So, if I could go back to my teenage self and give myself one word of advice then it would be about this particular issue. What would I say though? Well, this is another matter as what teenager is going to listen to an adult on the subject of something that causes personal terror!
Well, I think that it would have to be "trust in yourself and let it go" as I needed to learn to trust myself that I would say what I needed to say and that it really doesn't matter. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I believe that I am there now.