Lessons to My Younger Self

Kathyrn Minshew of TheDailyMuse asked me to write a blog post around the series they are doing called Lessons to My Younger Self.  I was happy to do it.  The lessons that I have learned are lessons that I am happy to pass on.  It goes under the heading called mentoring.  If my generation can help the next generation learn from lessons we learned then hopefully they will do the favor to the next generation.   BTW, picture of my younger self. 

So here is the post:

I had lunch this past week with a very old friend of mine.   We met right after college at the Macys Kings Plaza store in Brooklyn.  She ran accessories and I ran cosmetics.  Our birthdays are one day apart.  We both turned 50 this month. 

I couldn’t help but ask her if she every thought about what her life would be at 50 and if she did, did it meet up to her expectations.   Her answer is that she has always enjoyed the moment, never really looking ahead so much but being happy at each point where she was.  My answer is that I have always been one with a desire to successfully move forward without having any road map.  My career has reflected that. 

What I mean by moving forward is that when I was in high school, I wanted to get to college.  When I was in college, I wanted to graduate and start my career.  When I was 14, I wanted to be 16 so I could drive.  Always moving forward but not really with a clear expectation of what I wanted when I got there.  Even at Macys when I began in a three- month training program, I was ready to get out to the first job as soon as possible and then ready to get promoted as soon as possible.  I have always been competitive and driven to financially succeed in a way that I would be able to take care of myself in a way that I wanted to live.  Of course at each turn I wanted more because that goes back to the desire to move forward and my competitive nature. 

When I opened up the first Women’s Entrepreneur Festival in January 2010 I spoke about my career choices and as I got older many of them had to do with children.  There was a point where I looked in the mirror and felt like I had somehow let my young ambitious self down.   When I spoke those words I saw people in the audience nodding their heads up and down.  Those words hit home to a lot of people who felt that somehow they had lost their identity with some of the choices they had made.  I know that I felt that way for a very long time. 

Perhaps it is my generation or perhaps it is just life as many women find themselves in the exact same position as I did even now.  They took time off, they took a different track that wasn’t as time consuming at work, or continued moving forward at a frantic pace and felt guilty about leaving their kids in the dust.  Need I go on?

So what is my advice to my younger self?  Do what feels right at each step of the way.  You can always pivot, you can always do something different but you can never recapture the time you spend with your kids and your family.  Julia Child didn’t start her career until she was way into her 40’s and look at the mark she made on the world.   Do what makes you happy and everything else will fall into place.  Don’t be so concerned with what’s next and do what my friend has managed to do which is enjoy each moment.  Life is short.  Take time out to smell the roses, carpe diem, give back, move forward but do it under your own terms. 

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