By anyone’s standards, Judi Dench has done a lot of things “right” in her life. Not only has she followed her passions and become one of the best-loved actresses of all time, but, she is also a genuinely good person.

She stands up for causes that she believes in, including protecting the environment and supporting Alzheimer’s research. She comes across as humble, genuine and warm – the kind of person that you would love to have a cup of tea with.

With so many credits to her name, you might assume that Judi Dench would have few words of wisdom for her younger self. “Just keep doing what you’re doing,” would be my naïve assumption. But, as it turns out, Dench, just like the rest of us, does have a thing or two that she would love to say to her 30-year-old self.

 
 

In a recent interview with Stylist.co.uk, Judi Dench opened up about her past and shared what she wished she had known as a younger woman.

The interview is quite comprehensive and I encourage you to take a look.

Judi Dench - Stylist

That said, here are a few of the things that jumped out to me.

First, Judi talks a lot about the positive role that fear has had in her life. As a result, she would remind her younger self to use fear to her advantage. As she says in the interview, “Fright can transform into petrol. I get stage fright all the time; the more I act, the more I feel it. But you just have to use it to your advantage.”

This is similar to the advice that many of the women in our own community said that they would give their younger selves. All people, but, especially women, feel like they live in a dangerous world. In reality, most of our fears are in our heads. When we learn to face our fears, we find out just how strong we are and, as Judi says, we may even be able to use our fears to our advantage.

Another piece of advice that Judi gave her younger self, which resonates with the perspective of many women in the community is to try to be the best you can be. She said:

People call me a workaholic but I just love working. I feel very lucky to be part of the 2% of people who wanted to do something and were able to make a living at it.

Looking back, many women in our community said that they would tell their younger selves to keep going with school and never stop learning. Life has a way of sweeping us from one emergency to the next. Maintaining a love of learning is so important because it gives us something to hold onto in an otherwise turbulent world.

Finally, I loved the fact that Judi showed her independent streak in this interview. Women in their 60s grew up in a time when there was still a lot of pressure to conform – at home and in the office.

As Judi said, “I’ve disobeyed the rules ever since my very first acting role.” This is advice that I think all of us wish our younger selves had followed.

As I think about Judi’s advice to her younger self, I am reminded of the important role that women over 60 can play in guiding and mentoring younger women. We may not be able to change our own lives – and, in reality, most of us wouldn’t want to – but, we can help young women around the world to find their way.

This could involve being a friend to our granddaughters, but, it also could include getting involved with mentoring groups in our own communities. Let’s share our wisdom with the world!

I’d love to get your thoughts on this. Do you agree with Judi’s perspective? What advice would you give your younger self? Please join the conversation.

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