Things I wish I had followed when I was younger (early 20s):
- Learn. Learn all you can about the things that interest you. Even learn about things that don’t interest you because it will be so much more useful to you as you get older. (I.E. When you are trying to be social and find that you have nothing to talk about, spouting a random fact and coming off as weird is better than coming off as boring and ignorant.)
- If someone you like tells you that they love you and/or would like a relationship right away, RUN. Run in the other direction. Don’t waste your time, energies or thoughts on this person, even if you feel a strong connection. This person has internal issues & baggage that they haven’t or don’t care to sort out first before entering a healthy relationship. They might not even know what a healthy relationship is or looks like.
- Travel as much as you can. Buy that ticket to that concert. Go with your family on that cruise. Even if you don’t think you have the money. (Hopefully, you are employed while reading this.) Money always comes and goes in your life. Opportunities don’t come around as often, especially as you get older.
- Be a smart shopper. Try not to spend your money on material items unless that item is absolutely necessary and practical. Trust me. You’ll eventually become very materialistic and want every new item that comes to the shelves. Those items won’t help you if you’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire in the middle of the night. Are you going to wear that $1,000 Prada bag over your head when it rains? …Didn’t think so. Look for deals and never buy anything full price, especially that dress that just came out for the season that you want to wear to impress a date. (Yes, that actually happened and it was one of the STUPIDEST things I’ve ever done.)
- Invest in some high quality classic pieces of clothing and accessories, even if you think, “When the hell am I going to wear this?” Examples would be: a thick sweater that will keep you warm on those below-freezing days; a business suit that you can wear to the office and/or on an interview; a cocktail dress that flatters your figure; snow boots (if you live in a place where blizzards are a thing every winter); hat/scarf/gloves and not the ones that only look nice; ETC. You get the idea.
- Take care of your health. Your health is THE most important relationship you will ever have. Maintain a healthy diet, but allow yourself cheat days once in a while. Exercise in any form that works for you. Make sure you get a dose of Vitamin D every day by going outside, even if the sun isn’t shining. Force yourself to have lunch outside of the office. Take vitamins-they even come in a fruity chewable form now. Get and go see your doctor regularly.
Got a toothache? Find a dentist that you trust and fix that shit IMMEDIATELY, then get a checkup/cleaning every 6 months. Fixing your teeth is a long and arduous process and putting it off until you reach adulthood is a huge mistake.
Schedule checkups with your OBGYN. Your body gives you signals when something is wrong, PAY ATTENTION. Better yet, just go get the preventative procedure done. Your future self will thank you.
- Don’t be afraid of doing things “the wrong way.” Perfection does NOT exist, nor should it. It is so much better for your personal growth when you make mistakes. You cannot discover new things from doing things correctly all the time.
- AVOID DEBT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. This also applies to credit cards. If you need to take out a loan, DON’T. Find other ways, ANY. OTHER. WAYS. to fund your endeavors.
- Have realistic expectations for yourself and your life. That way, when disappointments happen (oh, and they will), your world and feelings won’t be too wrung out for you to try again. And always, always try one more time. You’ll experience failure more times than successes but you will have learned a lot. Figure out your limits and focus on one project at a time. See things through and finish them to completion or to the end before moving onto something else.
- Perspective is everything. See reality for what it is, not what you want it to be..BUT, don’t let that prevent you from wanting what you want. You are entitled to your thoughts, desires and emotions but be careful not to blow things out of proportion.
- Do not ever apologize for who you are. Not everyone is going to like you; there will even be people that dislike you for illogical reasons or even for no reason, but that really isn’t your concern. Dismiss those people and focus on liking yourself. Eventually build it up until you love yourself. Loving yourself means accepting EVERYTHING about yourself- flaws, faults, vices, (good) traits, etc., especially on bad days. Loving yourself doesn’t take a day or even a year; it’s a lifelong process since you are an ever-changing individual. That being said, people will try to convince and place their opinions of you, on you. Keep an open mind and heart, listen but don’t believe what they say. At the end of the day, you are the person you need to deal with during those moments before drifting off to sleep. If you don’t like who you are, either accept it or change, but only make changes FOR YOU and nobody else.
- Other people, no matter how much they love and care you, will have their best interests in mind. No one is completely selfless or altruistic in that way. When it comes to your own life, don’t allow others to dictate where your life will go. Again, listen, take into account their opinions, but figure out what you want for and from your life, then forge your own path. Ultimately, those people are not with you 24/7 and will eventually be gone. Then, all your life will be and all that’s left are others’ opinions and regrets.
- Make sure you have a job that pays well and that you don’t hate. An average work week is 40 hours. Even though there are 24 hours in one day, 8 hours are spent at the office, 1-2 are spent traveling around, 7-9 are spent sleeping. That leaves 5-6 hours left for everything else: time to yourself, spending time with loved ones, errands, eating, & practicing hygiene. It’s not a lot of time. 40 hours a week at work is 40% of your life. Hating a job has known to be damaging to your health (See #6). Excel, ask questions and learn all you can at each job because all will give you experience until you can get a job doing what you love.
- Cherish the time you spend with the people you care about. Be in those moments and if you find yourself drifting to other things, being yourself back to the present moment. You really never know when they’ll be gone from your life, either due to death, growing apart, or a breakup. If they do leave your life for whatever reason, mourn the loss but move on. Don’t stay stuck in the past because you will be ruining your future if you do.
- Love and be kind, because why not? If you’re lucky, you will have multiple opportunities that will show you how to love someone else and how to have someone love you. Make sure you go all in, even if you get your heart broken, do it anyway. Love and relationships are risks, but make sure you figure out a balance; don’t risk or lose yourself, because it is harder to find yourself than it is to lose. You will definitely learn more about yourself along the way, or at the very least, you will find out what you don’t want. Relationships are work and can be difficult, but always make sure that it is a two-way street and someone meets you halfway. If you find yourself doing all of the work and making all the sacrifices, cut your losses and let them go, no matter how you feel about them, because you are doing yourself a disservice by staying. If the other person knows what’s good for them, they’ll run after you. If they don’t, it really is THEIR loss.