“The problem with being 20”. That was the first blog I ever wrote. The problem I was trying to get at then is something that’s been coming back to me lately. It was about being in that ‘in-between’ stage… where you know you’re not a kid anymore but you’re not quite sure you can class yourself as an adult either. That moment when someone asks for an adult and you look around to find an “adultier adult” than you. (Credit to whoever came up with that quote on Twitter). But that was a blog I wrote two years ago, and this is now.
A few people told me that in-between feeling wouldn’t ever go away properly. Sometimes I think I’m in that stage even more so now than I was then. But I think I’ve also grown up enough since then to recognise that part of coming out of the wilderness between teen and adult is taking a moment to realise the people that you might be influencing…. the people you might be having an effect on. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to have someone let you know when it happens. Sometimes it hits you in the face – signing autographs and being asked for pictures at the Curtis Cup is still one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I gave one young girl my glove after one of my matches along with the words “I don’t really know if you want this but it seems like the right thing to do…” An hour later she found me again and asked me to sign it.
Maybe it has to be that black and white sometimes for you to realise what’s happening…. and then what has happened in the past or what has the potential to happen in the future. But it doesn’t have to be black and white. You don’t have to be the older one, in the position that other people want to be in, to insipre someone or to have an effect on their life. You don’t have to have had 30 or 40 or 50 years of experience: be it experience of failed relationships and succesful ones, or career breakthroughs and disappointments, of the times to keep trying and the times to move on. Of course there are times when experience makes a difference and there are going to be people you trust and people you turn to for advice. But don’t assume that those same people have everything figured out either. Lots of people have a missing piece, whether they show it or not… and for all you know you could be lighting up that little piece of darkness they don’t let anyone see.
You don’t have to be a teacher for people to learn from you. You don’t have to be a superstar for people to look up to you. You don’t have to be given the label of ‘role-model’ to be exactly that… and you might have been a role-model to someone long before someone else said it out loud. People notice what you’re doing whether you notice them noticing it or not. So give them the right things to notice.