If I Were You

A stack of stones on the shores of Lake Superior

If I were you, I would be as you are now.

Those words came to me at some point during my childhood. I wish I could tell you an exciting story about how they came to me, but I don’t have one. I just thought those words. Then I thought them again. And again.

If I were you, I would be as you are now.

I remember thinking and saying those words the way that my Catholic friends recited Hail Marys. None of us really knew what we were saying. But each of us hoped, for reasons both logical and magical, that the momentum of our words would move us toward something or someone better than we were right that very minute.

If I were you, I would be as you are now.

In the intervening dozens of summers and winters and spring and falls, these words have continued to come to me. Maybe it is more true to say that these words have become me. That I’ve chewed and churned them so much that they have become a part of my bones.

If I were you, I would be as you are now.

Even so, it has taken every one of those seasons for me to realize something important about these words. Maybe the most important thing about them. They imply a second truth, this one much more difficult for me to swallow:

If you were me, you would be as I am now.

A revelation in eleven words: Even I am worthy of compassion. Just like you. How easy it is to forget that we, every one of us, are human. All together. Right this very minute.

This essay also appeared on Medium.

Published by Emily P.G. Erickson

Emily P.G. Erickson is a freelance writer specializing in mental health and parenting. She has written for popular digital publications, including Everyday Health, Health, The New York Times, Parents, Romper, Verywell Mind, WIRED, and more. Emily is a professional member of the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). Previously, Emily researched PTSD for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and earned a master's in psychology. You can find the latest from Emily at www.emilypgerickson.com.

Leave a Reply