"You remind me of me, when I was young."
"You remind me of a younger me." Ever said it? Ever had someone say it to you?
This is the first time that saying's struck me as... odd, when you think about it.
I'm sure I've felt that way about other copywriters - 'you remind me of myself, once upon a time'. Back when I was in my last job, or freelancing, or even before that. Whether I told them that or not, I don't really remember.
I used to think it was a harmless observation. Almost an expression of pride. But now a rival's mentioned it, like some kind of tactless back-handed compliment. And now I'm looking at it in a whole new way.
First, let's address the obvious issue. Is this getting my back up because it came from a competitor? It's put a different slant on the meaning, that much is certain.
It didn't help that the phrasing was in Japanese, with a politeness that layers the subtlety thick over every burn. I was being scrutinised and evaluated. It came across as 'we used to do things that way, but we changed and now we're better'. As if I had some catching up to do.
"You remind me of a younger me." implies good things and bad things. It sounds like fresh-faced, youthful enthusiasm, and like wide-eyed, youthful immaturity. Like a sense of potential, and yet lacking something important. Wisdom, or judgement, or the familiarity needed with a situation in order to handle it, or something like that.
So ask yourself this: When you 'see yourself' in someone else, what exactly are you seeing?
Most of us aren't in a worse place now than we were, say, 5 years ago. (And those who are didn't plan to be...) Experience doesn't always come with age, but it comes with time and repeatedly messing up. We'd all like to think we've 'moved on', and moved up in the world, gradually.
Which is why patting someone on the head for resembling the former you is kind of patronising. You may as well say "You could be like I am now, someday, but you're not quite there yet."
There shouldn't be any shame in looking back at how we once were with some wistful nostalgia. But it's hard not to look at younger moments and cringe. And you'll always wonder if the person comparing you to their own past is inwardly cringing at you.