What can we learn from our teenage selves?

Youth is wasted on the young. So how can we recapture some of that magic in our more mature days? Lately, I’ve rekindled some hobbies that I had as a teenager. It’s so easy to think that we don’t have time to do things for fun, or when we do have time, we have no idea what to do— aside from maybe getting dinner or going to a bar. So what did the younger Zabby spend her time doing?


I went to dance class several nights per week. I played flute in the jazz band, the youth orchestra, and the pit ensemble for musicals. I noodled around on guitar a lot. I listened to entire albums, start to finish. I went to YRUU meetings where we did some combination of goof off, cultivate individual and group spiritual practices, pursue social justice work, and goof off more. I did art for the hell of it— I made collages, sometimes paintings, often poetry. I kept an art journal sometimes. I went to concerts with friends. I went to open mic night at the Gryphon cafe.  I could not have told you whether all those activities had a purpose, or if they were worth it, or worthwhile. I don’t know. But they were part of my life, and my life was different then.


Some of the change from a life full of creative activities to one without reflects the structure of “adulthood”- work hours, chores. Some is energy level, and the natural ebbs and flows. Some is choices (like maybe being so busy isn’t always the best.) But honestly, isn’t some of it inertia?  It’s so easy to do netflix, to do a glass of wine, to do some scrolling and call it a day. But truly, often, there’s time, if you want to do something. The missing component is that start-up energy. The kick in the pants to get the body at rest to become a body in motion. Can you find that spark? Will you listen to it, if you do?d
A little ways back, Max and I went to see a production of West Side Story. OH YEAH, I remembered, I love dancing. I want to dance! There was a spark. So before it could wear off, I looked up a place to take an adult ballet class. Sunday afternoon? No excuses.  I got a new pair of ballet slippers. And I went— just go to one, I told myself, and if it sucks, you just put in an hour and a half. But it didn’t suck! Not even a little. I left feeling energetic and interested, and interesting. Yes, I am a dancer! 

still got it!


That little thing, that one class that I told myself I’d do, sparked other ideas in me, too. I could draw some stuff! I could practice playing the flute! I could learn a new song on the guitar! And hey, that stuff is fun. Teenage Zabby was on to something. Grown-up Zabby is, too. What can you learn from your younger self?

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