Seven Lessons to my younger self

By ABF Board Member Gigi Chawla

The Ann Bancroft Foundation is excited to introduce Dr. Gigi Chawla as a new board member as of June 2023. Gigi is the Chief of Community Pediatrics at Children's Minnesota. Below, read the seven lessons Gigi would give her younger self.

1: Trust in the journey.

At a young age, I had a preconceived notion of what my path in life was going to be, and was often disappointed that it played out differently than I had expected. What I didn’t realize at the time was that those twists and turns on the path were important and led to better things than I had ever anticipated in the first place. 

2: You don’t have to do things alone.

I felt like I had to prove to people how capable I was or how much I could accomplish on my own. But true success comes from teamwork and what you can accomplish with others. 

3: Develop a support group.

This has been a tough lesson for me. I have had friends who have been there and then have not. But it is so much easier when you find friends who have your best interest at heart, are able to tell you hard things, and support you through tough times. Protect those relationships because those are the ones who help you see yourself in a ways that you can’t at the time.

4: Take (good) chances.

I have always been one to think about the consequences or ripple effect of my choices. In some ways, this has limited possibilities and I sometimes wonder “what if I had…?”. I think it’s ok to take some good chances especially when your support group (see above) thinks “why not?”

5: Keep learning.

I loved to read as a kid and thought that was the best path to learning. One thing that is important is there are many ways to learn, reading is just one of them. But it is important to stay curious and learn from how others see the world by listening to people---people of different generations, different backgrounds, and different perspectives. 

6: Worry less.

I think I’ve worried about everything there is to worry about, including really silly things like weight, appearance, what I’m wearing, etc. Nothing good has really come from this type of worrying. Just taking those worries out of my mindset, putting them aside, and not letting it factor in has made all the difference in giving me the mindspace to think about worthier things. 

7: Protect your knees.

This one is a bummer because I love to exercise and still do about 10 hours each week. Quick medical lesson: because of the hip/knee angles and strength of quadriceps muscles in relationship to hamstring muscles of the thighs, biological females are at higher risk for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. I’m no exception and tore my ACL as a teenager, had 3 knee surgeries, and will likely one day have arthritis and get a knee replacement. I would have loved my younger self to have listened more in biology class to that!