Several years ago, a friend gave me a copy of an inspiring book, What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self. In it, a group of accomplished women reflected on a crucial moment in the past when they could have used some advice from their older and wiser selves.
I thought of this book when sorting through an old box of mementos from high school. In it I found notes for my twelfth grade debate: be it resolved that women earn the same as men. My 17- yearold self would never have guessed that almost thirty years later, my work and career would be focused on creating a world where women have equal opportunities in the workplace.
Finding that report reminded me of the advice I received from one of my first mentors – look for work that you’re passionate about, work for an organization that you are proud to be part of and with people you respect and can learn from.
If I were writing a letter to my 17- year-old self, I would tell her that she was embarking on a journey that would be driven by her passion to make change in the world. I would tell her to never be afraid to ask for help or for a new challenge. I would tell her that having the confidence to take risks would lead to career opportunities in government, consulting and nonprofit sectors.
I would tell her that the greatest satisfaction she’d experience in life and work would come from the times when she was true to herself and the things that mattered most to her at that very moment. I would tell her that there would be some difficult times ahead, but that she’d grow stronger by facing her challenges head on. And finally, I’d tell her that she would have the great fortune of building a support system of friends, family and mentors who would offer the encouragement and wise counsel that she needed to achieve her dreams.