Food for the Soul
Back in high school (long before I discovered hiking) I’d rush through my homework so I could get down to the beach and go for a walk after school. My parents thought it was all about the surfer boy spotting (yeah OK, there was a bit of that too…).
Whenever I felt stressed, tired, or just needed some time alone, the beach always fed my soul.
This morning I needed some solitude. Some time alone, with no distractions.
I got up bright and early and headed back to my old town. It sure looks a lot different these days, but as it was early (and a Sunday) I managed to find the solitude I was after. I also ran into a girl I went to school with and had a quick ‘whatcha-been-up-to-for-the-last-20-years’ chat.
I walked from Collendina to Point Lonsdale lighthouse (and back). It took just under 3 hours.
Being back in the old ‘hood got me thinking. What would I tell 15 year old me? What advice would I give her?
Here’s my letter to 15 year old Sam:
Why don’t you put down the Dolly magazine, turn off the U2 cassette tape, and listen to me for a minute? I’ve got some things I need to tell you…
Life will not always be rainbows and happiness. But you will be OK. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse – they will. But, you will find inner strength that you never knew you had, and one day things won’t suck as much. They will be pretty bloody awesome again. Your family love you, and they will be there for you through the good and the bad – even if you take a while to let them help you.
You know that town you live in that’s ‘so boring’ and you can’t wait to get out of? You will get out of there. You will travel to more than 27 countries, and live overseas for many years. At one point you will even be accused of having one of those weird hybrid Australian-British accents. Don’t worry – it won’t last long once you’re back home. You will see the most amazing places, and meet people that will open your eyes to experiences that you can’t even dream of right now. And you will also realise how lucky you were to grow up in such a beautiful place.
You know those friends that dumped you because you weren’t ‘cool’ enough? I’m proud of you for just getting on with it, and not letting them get you down for too long. Because they weren’t really that cool themselves.
And you know those girls who are mean to you on the bus? Don’t worry about them either. They are picking on you to divert attention from the fact that they don’t feel that great about themselves. And the boys at your school? Don’t be so shy. If you come across someone you like, talk to them, and hang out with them if you enjoy their company.
Just be yourself. Always remain true to what you know is right. You will stuff up from time to time. You will make bad decisions. Don’t beat yourself up about it. If you do wrong by someone else, own up to it and apologise. Then don’t make the same mistake twice.
Stop trying to be perfect, and stop trying to please everyone. You will never be perfect, and you will not always please everyone. You will save yourself a lot of anguish if you let these two things go.
And while we’re talking about letting things go. Let me tell you this. Your weight will go down. And it will go up. Those people that only tell you you’re pretty when you’re thin are only looking at your outward beauty. Even when you are not thin you are still the same person inside. Always remember that.
You will love – hard. You will also lose love – hard. Fairy tales and happy endings do not always happen. You will find happiness when you are ready. Embrace it.
Once you stop fluffing about around the world, you will be a parent. It will be amazing – and it will also be hard. It will be a whole lot of making stuff up as you go, second guessing yourself, but also a lot of fun if you just chill the f@ck out about it. Your son will be quirky, fun, and high energy. Embrace his quirkiness – he gets it from you. He will also be stubborn and headstrong. Embrace this too, as he also gets this from you. There will be time when you will not sleep much for almost three years. Don’t worry, you will sleep well again.
Know what you love – and do it often. If an opportunity or experience comes along that sounds good, say yes. Work out the finer details later. And always, always be yourself, because you’re perfect just as you are.
Bio: Sam is a daydreamer, storyteller, and hiker. She loves getting outside, and you’ll often find her on the bushwalking trails close to her hometown of Geelong.