I was launching Google awhile back (as you do about 50 times per day) and they had a line on the search page with the hashtag – #DearMe – alongside the query: what advice would you give a younger version of yourself? And I sat back in my chair and stepped away from the day to day and really pondered the question. What WOULD I tell a younger me? Ohh here we go…

First of all, should you ever run into a past version of yourself, where on earth do you begin? Forget about advice, I’d probably be brimming with updates on politics, smart phones and technology, the craziness that is the internet (and the awesomeness that is online shopping). Or I might start with more personal things – where we are now, how we got there, and all the things to look forward to. I wonder if I would warn myself of the sad times to come, but reassure myself that we get through it. Or if I’d drop hints on the exciting tidbits on the way, without spoiling the surprise. But, in keeping with the spirit of the hashtag, when it comes to sage advice, I’d probably start with the not-so-sage basics…

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
Dress: Xtabay Vintage (similar here & here)
Shoes: Melissas, thrifted from Mo-Mo’s Vintage (similar)
Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
Me and my beautiful mom

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
12 year old me, right before my first perm (if only I could run into this photo screaming, “NOoOOOOOooOooooooooooo!!!”)

I think there are some obvious bits of advice that come to mind: Dear me, I promise it gets better after high school. | Embrace the body you have because it’s beautiful. | Stay away from the tequila. Really. | Perms and acid washed jeans may be fleeting, but the photos from those fashion-clumsy years are forever (and one day your sister will buy a scanner).

Dear me, people will give you a lot of advice – you should always listen. But, you don’t always have to follow it. | I know you’re tall, but wear the heels anyway. | Being cool is overrated. | You should never, ever ever measure your self worth in barbies, stickers, the shade of lipstick you wear or the width of your hips. | And the only regret you will ever have, is that you ran out of time.

There is certainly a wisdom that comes with age.

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
It’s a comfort to know nothing changes. Ah well, at least I have someone in the shark with me now!

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed AestheticAdvice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic

But the more I thought about it, my mind jumbling with all of the things that I could share with mini me, I realized the best piece of advice I could give me is to say, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.” Live every minute. Don’t worry so much. I know that those girls have unkind words to say to you, but embrace your nerd – it will pay off one day.

I would also absolutely pat my younger me on the back and let her know she should keep on taking things seriously. She should keep taking things to heart – it means she cares. Keep respecting herself. I’d tell her I was so glad she went on that adventure and moved to New Zealand – I know how terrifying it was at 23, but it will change who she is. I’m so glad for all of the people who crossed her path that she stopped and noticed. I’m glad she protected her heart, but I’m also glad she loved with so much abandon that it was broken.

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
Me, the epitome of fashion sensibilities, on the left

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed AestheticAdvice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
Dress: The Vintage Studio (similar here & here)
Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
Dress: Calendar Girl Vintage (similar here & here) // Shoes: Shoe Bakery
Bag: Beleza Vintage (similar)
Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
Dress: Zwzzy (similar here & here) // Vintage Bag: Oh Henry Vintage (similar)
I look back and sometimes almost forget those days when I didn’t wear what I wanted for fear of standing out from the crowd or questioned myself and tried to morph to fit someone else’s mold. It seems so easy now. But even if I could give the younger me a nudge in that direction, I hope I would resist the urge. Because the path to becoming me was one of discovery – and I wouldn’t want to spoil a single experience in that mental and emotional Renaissance.

True, I would prefer if I had more self-confidence back then, more courage to stand up for myself, and less of a Failure Face when I scored anything less than an A on a test… but I still love that little nerd. I love the 5 year old who announced one day she would study sharks. I love the quiet girl who tried out for her high school musical, and then got cast in the role of ‘seductress,’ only to be forced out of her shell. I love the brave 22 year old who applied to grad school on the other side of the world, and despite the concerns of others, went anyway. And years later, though a decade older and (we hope) a decade wiser, when the opportunity came up to take another leap and make yet another overseas move, took a chance and took the leap again. I love the girl who is just as comfortable in a wetsuit as she is in heels and am looking forward to being that 80-year-old woman you see strutting down the street, still dressed to the nines.

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic

Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
Dress: Xtabay Vintage (similar here & here) // Shoes: Irregular Choice via Modcloth (similar)
Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
Skirt: Garb Oh Vintage (similar) // Top: Mikala Design
Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
Dress: Circa 1955 Vintage (similar here or a short version of the same dress here)
Advice to a Younger Me - The Dressed Aesthetic
Dress: Raleigh Vintage (similar here & here)
I think the amazing part is that we have the opportunity to have these kinds of conversations with ourselves daily – this is not simply a Google-driven event. To celebrate the leaps and bounds we’ve each made over the last few decades and the leaps and bounds still to go. I get so caught up in the day to day and the go go go that I forget how young I still am and how much growing I still have to do. And truly, if all of the awkward childhood stumbling hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be me. Science-nerd, vintage-loving, twirling around the garden like a chiffon-clad cupcake, me.

We are all very good at giving advice to our sisters, our friends, our nieces. Yet, one glance at the rear view in a certain pair of jeans, one negative comment from a colleague, one derisive sneer towards my vintage chiffon, and I have to admit, parts of that quivering young girl stir and still needs reassurance.

But, then I remember how so much of the advice I would give my younger self I can (and should) still be taking. And that my self-worth doesn’t live in a reflection in a mirror, in someone else’s opinion, in a judgement summed up in a glance. And so I pick that young girl up, dust her off and realize that she and I are better off walking hand in hand. Me, to serve as hope that things really do get better, and her, to forever remind me of  how far I’ve come.

So, what advice would you give {a younger} you?

 

xoxo

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The Dressed Aesthetic