Both of my kids are struggling with identity, struggling to figure out their places in the world. I am trying to remember myself at that age, to try and be more sympathetic with them. It isn't easy. My time as a 20-25 year old is long gone.
However, I wish I could travel back in time and tell my younger self what I now know to be true. I have learned through the years that how one views oneself becomes the reality.
My son is struggling with identity issues right now. I haven't been able to convince him that changing your thoughts can actually change your life. I don't know if that's because he's only 20 years old, or because of his background [severe neglect and abuse before I adopted him] or it just doesn't sound plausible to him.
When I was 20 I just remember being scared all the time -- scared I wouldn't make good grades, wouldn't find a boyfriend, wouldn't find a job when I graduated. I was in my junior year of college and I was trying to burn the candle at both ends -- work, go to school, be in plays, write, socialize with friends. There simply weren't enough hours in the day. If someone had said to me "Change your thoughts and you'll change your life" I probably would have thought they were either an idiot or misinformed.
The older I get, however, the more I realize that there are so many sources of knowledge in the world, that we as human beings miss out on so much if we just cling to a narrow view of what is possible.
I thought for many years that the only way possible to have a family was to go the normal route - husband, pregnancy, etc. Adoption never crossed my mind.
I kept dating and dieting and doing the same things over and over.
In 2002 when I was planning a trip to Russia to sing The Messiah with a choir, I would have told you it would be an adventure but I never would have thought my entire life would radically change because of that one trip. I sensed, though, that my life needed shaking up, radically.
That was 15 years ago. Since then, my life has never been the same.
So often when we turn a corner in our lives we might sense things are changing but we don't fully realize it until much later. Maybe that's a blessing. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be -- if we could see ahead too clearly we might freak out.
I have a friend on Facebook who shares sometimes that she is having a bad day but she is trying to remember to be grateful. It sounds cliche perhaps, but changing thoughts of complaint and uneasiness and negativity to thoughts of gratitude can be remarkably healing.
Sometimes when I try it I don't get much beyond "Thanks for the fact I am...alive?" If I take the time to think for a few minutes I can come up with more, however. "Thanks for the fact I am...
- Living in America
- Able to think clearly and reason out ways to solve problems
- Living in Atlanta, a city I love
- Blessed with a loving family, particularly my mother
- Profoundly blessed to have wonderful friends and neighbors
- Blessed with reasonably good health
- Able to walk outside every day and appreciate the lovely colors of the sky, the trees, the birds
- Able to play with/love on my sweet dog, Lolababy -- dogs are such a blessing because they are so loving
- Able to write every day, on my personal projects or professionally
- Able to listen to music and sing along
- Gifted with the most valuable gift of all -- FAITH
Wait a minute -- just off the top of my head I was able to think of 12 awesome reasons to be grateful.
Even if I could only say I'm alive and healthy those two reasons should be comforting.
Thoughts of gratitude dispel thoughts of despair every time.
Kids, DO TRY THIS AT HOME:
Next time you feel angry, hurt, resentful, hopeless, try to make a list of 5 or 10 reasons to be grateful. Reflect on those things. Realize how blessed you truly are. It will help you re-focus on the good things in life.