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Monday Moment: Light the way

Emma Grey

“Be who you needed when you were younger…”


I shared this quote on my Facebook page during the week and it immediately struck a chord.

It begs the question: who did the younger me need?

  • When I was seventeen, I needed someone to tell me these last two school years wouldn’t define the rest of my life. I needed (and had) a mum who would make me warm drinks and drag me out for walks when the going got tough.
  • When I was twenty-seven, I needed someone to hold my baby while she screamed for hours every day. Someone to tell me “this too shall pass”. Someone to encourage me to stop breastfeeding. Someone to ask if I was okay and help me address the fact that I wasn’t.
  • When I was thirty-two, I needed reassurance that our family would survive beyond separation. I needed to know we’d do more than that. We’d thrive. I needed hope that my daughters would grow into resilient, happy young women.
  • When I was thirty-six, I needed mentors to lead me from one career into another. I needed a new, extra circle of business-owning friends to guide me through the challenges of building something from the ground up.
  • When I was forty-one, I needed people at the other end of the gauntlet, cheering me safely through to the side where things wouldn’t come at me from all angles.
And now, all around me, there are versions of my younger self:
  • Teenagers coming to the pointy end of their education
  • First-time mums
  • Friends with depression
  • People going through separation and divorce
  • Career-changers and business-starters
  • Parents of children going through all the stages my kids have been through

This exercise helps us reflect on the times when life threw us something harder than we were used to, and we fumbled for a catch, inelegantly, imperfectly…

It reminds us that we scrambled up, every time. We moved through and on, always.

It helps us see that, over time, some wisdom began to settle. Wisdom we wouldn’t have now without the experiences that tried to break us.

We can make it easier for the people who follow behind us by being who we needed then. By doing the practical things we once desired. By saying what we once needed to hear. By not saying some other things…

And this is a good time to ask: “Who do I need now?”

  • Who is a little further along the path I’m treading?
  • Who has been through what our family is going through now?
  • Who is further along my career path?
  • Who has suffered similar setbacks?

As we endeavour to live more consciously as mentors for those coming behind us, we ought to be finding our own guiding lights. We ought to be asking more questions. Watching how it’s done. Learning the ‘how to’ at the edges of our comfort zones.

Isn’t this what life is really all about? Looking for the light. Shining the light.


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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