If I could travel back in time and share advice with my 22-year-old-self, my message would be simple: Realize that your scars are cool.
Several years ago my youngest daughter, then 8, convinced me that my scars are cool. I don’t know about you, but when your kid tells you anything about yourself is cool, it’s a great day. Her comments encouraged me to be proud of my scars.
My younger self believed it was better to hide my scars — a.k.a., my flaws, my failures, or whatever you wish to label them. There was no way back then that I would have been so bold as to proudly display them.
Because when you reveal what makes you different or less than perfect, you run the risk of being judged. And I was way too concerned about being judged.
In my twenties, I was embarrassed when I had to buy groceries at the Sunoco Mini-Mart because I was out of cash and all my other credit cards were maxed out.
I was worried when my first boss would berate me in front of my colleagues for not closing a sale.
I was frustrated when I was downsized and passed over for a big promotion.
When I was younger I believed it was better to hide my imperfections and forget the scars that resulted from them.
Now I understand that these setbacks were actually set-ups for success.
Each “injury” became a catalyst and catapulted me to pursue values-based endeavors of leadership fulfillment. In hindsight, they created the courage behind my transforming “Let go” into “Let’s Go!”
My daughter was right; scars are cool. They make us human.
Of course, my daughter was unaware of my professional scars. What she referred to that day were my cycling-accident scars.
There’s no joy in vanity, and there’s little pleasure in judgment.
On that day, I could only see my damaged body. It was through her non-judgmental eyes that I could begin to see my story of strength, determination, and grit. Much the same way I see my wrinkles as signs of wisdom, now.
There’s no escape from judgment; however, you do have a choice in how much judgment you cascade in your life. Let’s start with ourselves. Learn to love your scars —both the physical scars, and the scars on your pride.
Your scars are what make you unique; they tell your story of you. And everyone loves a good story.
Oh, there’s one last lesson I’d share with my 22-year-old self: Your 40s are very cool. You get to feel like you’re 22 again, but this time, you have the wisdom that only comes from living.
Plus, you get to drink much better wine.