Taking Time To Know Yourself


Eight years ago I moved to Boston from Pittsburgh to attend graduate school and it ultimately changed the direction my life was going. Upon a recent move to New Jersey for a new job, the establishment of a new friend network was slow going. But on the plus side, it afforded me plenty of time to think. And I began to realize there were somewhat profound differences between my current self and my younger self, then and now. I found myself wishing I could have a conversation with her somehow, and let her know how brave it was to launch into the world even though she had so many doubts at that time. From those thoughts, these are my observations and what I would love her to know:

  • Your take on the world seems so different now. I actually can’t believe it. Though you mostly look the same, you’ve got cheeks that don’t quit.

  • You’ll still be feisty, but it will be a more moderated feisty. It’s not you against the world, it’s you within the world. You don’t have to fight so hard.

  • Leggings will come into your life in a big way. You will wonder why they can’t be work appropriate. They are fabulous.

  • Patience is a virtue. But so is sticking up for yourself- don’t get it confused.

  • Dad is going to pass away. It’s inexplicable and totalizing pain. The learning curve is the largest to date in its scope. Some people you thought would be there won’t, and some you didn’t expect support from will stun you with their kindness. It’s life-changing in so many ways. It will make you kinder than you were expecting, and add perspective to many parts of your life.

  • You genuinely will become almost a calm person. I know, it’s crazy. The key word again though is almost.

  • Some friends stay for life and some friends do not. To your credit, you understand the difference.

  • You’re going to hurt so many parts of your body from running. But you’re still going to try to keep it up anyways because you’re ridiculous.

  • Dinosaurs are still going to be your thing, and it’s totally fine. They’re honestly really cool.

  • You will start to like plants. It’s like mom only honestly I think it may be worse. But you’re going to be so great at learning the different types and how they can be used in design and look awesome in homes. You’ll acquire (borderline) too many.

  • Nothing is permanent. Not a happiness today, a sadness tomorrow or the time you have with anyone. If you have something to say, you need to say it. Or it’s lost. You’ll say some things, lose others and every now and then lose some things only to find them later. And vice versa.

  • Noting the above, some kind of bluntness bone seems to have grown in your body and sometimes it’s like a ghost just shows up and spits truth. Try to watch out for her, we haven’t learned how to control her yet and fear she may just get worse with age. If she had a name it might be Estelle.

  • Keep being brave. Somehow you’ve gotten this far.

  • Your cheekbones are going to show up! Kind of, don’t get super excited, it’s really subtle. And only at certain angles.

  • Life doesn’t get easy. Sorry. It just has different breaks and angles for the bumps and the great days.

  • You’ll get random grey hairs and notice them literally right before a presentation or something important.

  • There are going to be people who will assume you should be in a relationship if you aren’t, that you want to continue dating someone you are with at that time, and that’s just the world. But really, you need you and maybe at some point the correct complement to the correct you. But you’re so different now, I wonder who you would have gotten together with that young that you’d still be with today. Truly.

  • Don’t worry about people’s assumptions. Insecurities from their own lives get placed on you. People still tell you more than you necessarily need, and it’s not your problem. Have some wine and move on.

  • Your demons from when you were little find you, beat you up pretty solidly and somehow leave you a better person for confronting them. Even if you had no choice. You feel yourself break apart from fear and then come together in a really beautiful way. It’s fascinating and scary and wonderful.

  • You have really genuine, caring, funny friends.

  • Hard work matters even though there will be moments when it feels like it’s not valued. Stop looking around and focus. It matters. Your kindness matters, your relationships with people matter. People remember. So show up on time, be kind but be you, and get the work done.

  • You’re still a cool chick. Sometimes you forget. You’re weird and different and it’s great, let it out.

    And so what is left to say? Your taste in words won’t change (this is a good thing).
    I leave two favorites (still!) to say it best:

Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…
-Walt Whitman


This above all: To thine own self be true.
-William Shakespeare

Ingrid Stobbe is an award-winning writer and media artist based in South Orange, New Jersey where she is the Visiting Professor of Visual and Sound Media at Seton Hall University. Her creative work spans a number of mediums inclusive of paint as well as the moving image. However the written word will always remain her first love and can be read in such venues as Yoni FestPsychology Tomorrow and Coffee Meets Bagel. She is the founder of Leaf Home Design, a botanical interior design service creating green spaces in the home, and you can find more of her creative work at www.IngridStobbe.com. Ingrid herself is most likely found at the local bakery testing out new cupcakes- another lifelong love affair. 

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