It’s that time of year again. My birthday. This is a big one – the big 4-0! I’ve never been a fan of birthdays and this one is a particularly big one (at least in my mind). For my 38th birthday I wrote a post all about the 38 things I’m grateful for in life. For my 39th birthday I wrote a post listing 39 self care ideas. This year, I’ve decided to compile a list of 20 things I would tell my younger self if I had the chance.
Why 20? Why not 40 things I wish I could tell my younger self? Well, 40 might just be too long.
I’m splitting the advice to my younger self into a few different categories:
- life; and
20 Pieces of Advice for my Younger Self
Take better care of yourself early on. Life only gets busier and more challenging. When you’re young and in school you have more time than you ever will later on. Take advantage of this time and make good habits. Those habits will then last a lifetime.
You are beautiful. Like many young women, I wasn’t very confident in my appearance. I was always concerned that I had too much fat around my tummy, too many wrinkles around my neck and could never fit into a size 27 jeans. Ultimately none of this matters. I wish I had known that then and been a more confident person at the time.
You are stronger than you know. Yes, you’ll have challenges early on that seem to be the end of the world at the time they are happening but you will make it through. The strength you are gaining now will be really important in the future. The strength and resilience you are building will help you when you become a mom, make difficult career decisions and face cancer head on.
Always take care of your mental health. Much of my 20s were spent in school – either undergrad or law school. I found these experiences very stressful at the time. Had I known what the practice of law was like, I would have realized getting my degrees was a breeze in comparison. Perhaps I would have sought additional resources on how to deal with stress and anxiety and started those practices earlier in life.What would you tell your younger self if you could? Click To Tweet
Investigate your options before making career choices. If I could go back and give my younger self some career advice I’d tell her to investigate different career options more thoroughly. With additional information I may have made different choices. My current job is rewarding and awesome but I could have done without some of the experiences I had as a litigator.
Find a mentor. I never really had a work mentor. I think having a strong female mentor would have really helped me along the way.
Volunteer more. In school volunteering was always a big part of my life. I was involved in a variety of school and community organizations. My dedication to volunteer work fell by the wayside when I started working. I would advise my younger self to keep up with the volunteering. Those passions would come in handy later in life.
Your hard work is worthwhile. I studied a lot in school I took my work very seriously and gave up on a few events, parties etc to write papers, study etc. In the end I had good grades and a good job so all of this work was worthwhile.
Bring your lunch to work more often. This is one of those healthy habits I wish I started early on. Not only is it healthier and cheaper but it’s a great habit to start when you’re young. I think my main issue was having no idea what to make but now with Pinterest and all the amazing recipes out there it would be easier.
Don’t believe everything everyone tells you. Especially in the workplace. I try to believe that people are inherently good and honest. In life (especially at work), I’ve found that people are not always honest and forthcoming. That’s their choice, and I can’t control them, but I can be wary and aware of this trait in others.
Work to live don’t live to work. I spent too much time working and worrying about work. I would tell my younger self to chill out a bit and not worry as much.Work to live don't live to work and other words of advice for my younger self. What would you tell your 20 year old self? Click To Tweet
Don’t take things so personally. I’m a very sensitive person. I often take things very seriously (even if someone is joking) and personally. I think my younger self would be much better off if she wasn’t so sensitive. Taking things personally may have made me a more empathetic person but it caused me a lot of stress as well.
Learn to embrace change. Shifting circumstances and life changes are a huge part of my “adult” life. From becoming a mom to having cancer, these changes are challenging. Nothing seems to stay the same for long. Now that I’m a bit older I’m more able to “go with the flow” and deal with change as it comes.
Maintain friendships. Our friendships play such an important part of our lives. Especially as motherhood and work started to creep up on me I let some of those relationships go. It wasn’t that I wanted to stop these friendships, it’s that other things got in the way. If I was able to advise my younger self, I’d tell her not to let those relationships go. Hold on to them as long as you can.
Don’t worry about what others think or about what they are doing. This is a biggie and something I still struggle with to this day. Just because someone has a fancy car and I drive a CRV (which is a great car by the way), doesn’t mean one of our lives is better or worse than the other. We just make different choices and that’s ok. If you’re going to compare anything, compare your past self with your current self and be proud of how far you’ve come (and continue to go). This is much more positive and motivational than looking around, comparing yourself to everyone and not knowing the real stories.
It’s ok to get out of your comfort zone sometimes. Change isn’t my best friend. Despite this, I’m faced with lots of change and uncertainty and have been faced with this for the past little while. This takes me out of my comfort zone big time. I think it would have been great to become more comfortable with this idea as a younger person so it wasn’t such a big deal later on.
You are not your thoughts, you are the thinker of your thoughts. I recently started listening to The Mind Your Business Podcast. I really enjoy the positive energy James Wedmore brings to each of his episodes. He’s all about creating mindset shifts that will make you happier and more successful. One of the things he mentions is the idea that we are the thinker of our thoughts, not our thoughts. So if I walk around saying that I’m a failure (the thought), I am not the thought, but rather I have control over the thoughts and can change them to be more positive.
Always choose kindness. This is a key piece of advice I’d give to my younger self. She knows it, but sometimes it’s hard to see through. I would encourage the young me to keep going with this attitude of kindness no matter what you are faced with.
You have to kiss a few frogs before you meet your prince. Sigh, dear younger self this is a biggie. I went on so many terrible blind dates, often felt left out when all of my friends were getting married early on etc. In the end, I met the greatest guy for me. He is funny, super intelligent, kind, gentle, a wonderful father and has been such a rock for me during the challenging times we’ve faced. He is worth waiting for.
Spend more time together. When work was my primary concern, E and I worked in the same area of the city. We had many opportunities to get together for lunch or coffee and never really did. Looking back on that now, I think I should have put my work aside a bit more often and had lunch together more often. It’s a small thing but important.
And an extra kid related one (more for my 30s than 20s)
Enjoy the time you spend with your little one. It passes quickly. R just turned 7! I can’t believe how quickly the time flew by. He’s such a big kid now and sometimes I wish he’d be little forever. Then I remember the diapers, sleepless nights and the crying and I’m ok with the fact that he’s 7 lol.
40 is a big birthday (at least in my opinion). Here’s hoping I take some of the lessons learned in the first 40 years and apply them to the next 40.
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
I’ll be posting this at some of my favourite link ups and link parties.
For more posts on life, advice and family please see:
- Why is it so difficult for moms to put themselves first?
- Strategies for parenting a strong willed child
- 21 Inspirational quotes for a crummy day