If you told me that you never regifted a bad gift that someone gave you, I’d probably call you a liar. (Actually, I’d probably be too polite to call you a liar unless I know you really well, but I would at least think it.) The truth is, we’ve all done this, and hopefully, we’ve never been caught.
But a few years ago, one of my best friends, Lora, came to visit over the Christmas holiday. She was a professional photographer in Canada and wanted to escape the snow and have some fun at the beach. Anyway, the gift she gave me was a book… which was a book about extraordinary women… and was autographed by the founder of a Canadian women’s group… to my friend! That’s right, she got the book as a freebie at a women’s business owners’ conference, and the head of the conference signed it with a personalized note to Lora inside the front cover.
After I unwrapped the gift, but before I opened the book, my friend told a very convincing tale of how she was shopping in a bookstore with me in mind and selected the title because she’d seen me grow and evolve so much in the many years we knew each other. But when I opened the book and saw the autograph, her face turned red with embarrassment, and she confessed the true story.
That was in 2007. I put the book on a shelf and didn’t pay much attention to it for a few more years. Then I came across it one day as I packed to move, and the title suddenly gripped me: What I Know Now – Letters to My Younger Self. It’s a book by Ellyn Spragins as well as dozens of extraordinary women who were asked if they could send a letter back in time to their younger selves, what age would they choose, and what would they say.
I guess during the time that book sat on my bookshelf unopened, something in my life changed. I learned and grew as a person and as a mom. I went through a lot of heartache with my daughter, and I had a health scare. But the point was, I was ready to receive the message that the book gave me, which was that life’s too short to be stressed. I could’ve been happier a long time ago if I would’ve learned how not to sweat the small stuff. And everyone has regrets, but they can either define us or change us. We can be who we are because of our mistakes or despite them.
So, while Lora regifted something that she admittedly didn’t put much thought into, and which I admittedly didn’t think much of at the time, it turned out to be a very meaningful gift. And to pass that gift along, I now encourage you to think whether you’re a man or a woman, young or old, what would you like to tell your younger self?