I’m a previous chapter reader and re-reader. I often revisit my past in my head, sometimes for nostalgia, sometimes to ache, and sometimes to see if I can will my way back to give advice to my younger self. Overall I don’t have a lot of regrets but there are some things I wish I’d done differently. If you’re recently out of college or in your 20s and trying to find your way in the world, this post is for you.
1. Don’t move around so much if you’re looking for home. I lived in a new city after college and I struggled to settle in and find the right apartment for me. Looking back, the very first apartment I had was my favorite. I wish I had stayed there for awhile and created a home with memories while I built my life in my new city. Find a place you like and let it bloom. Remember that building a home takes time.
2. Don’t try to predict the future. I spent a lot of time thinking that certain things would happen for me by a given age. They didn’t. My advice is to throw out your timeline for life. You have no idea when you’ll land your dream job or if you’ll ever get married. You may not meet your partner for 20 years but your life will be shaped by the company you keep today. It might take 10 years for you to land your dream job but the skills and experience you are developing now will be what gets you there. If you look longingly ahead in life you’ll miss what is happening right in front of you.
3. Don’t compare your life to anyone else. Most of my friends from high school had advanced degrees and were married in their early 20s. I couldn’t help but feel like a failure in comparison. It’s really hard not to measure yourself against other people but it doesn’t do much good. Sometimes I wonder if I got my Master’s degree just so I could feel smart and accomplished like my friends seemed. I thought too much about what other people might expect of me or want for me and I lost focus on what I truly wanted for my life.
4. Don’t assume anything about relationships. Friends from high school, college, your last job, and family relationships take work. They need to be nurtured. If you want someone in your life you have to care about theirs. So much will happen to you and your friends when you’re in your 20s. If you’re not intentional about your relationships one day you’ll look back and realize they’re gone.
5. Don’t work so hard. Work hard but maybe not so hard. I worked hard in my 20s and for the most part it paid off. Looking back, I wish I enjoyed being young a little more. I wish I had taken more time off and just relaxed into life. Call in sick on a Wednesday and give yourself a break. Use your vacation days for long weekends and do something fun. Life is meant to be lived.
As I read and re-read my list I realize I can use all of this advice in my life today. I can’t change my past but I can shape my future.
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What advice would you give your younger self? Does it apply to your life today?
This is a great post! I love to look back and see how the little things/choices I made had an impact on my life today. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason 🙂
Thanks Erinn! I used to think everything happens for a reason but I’m not so sure anymore. Hmm, something for me to think about!
That’s all such great advice! Those are all things I would tell my younger self also.
Thanks for reading Beth!
I was such a different person when I was in my 20s, but I’ve learned so much since then that I wouldn’t change a thing!!
I was such a different person when I was in my 20s too. I would change a few things though!
I have a post in the works to my daughter, who just turned 20. I’d tell myself to be careful with my money. I like No. 5 best here – the idea of scheduling a day off would have given me something to look forward to, too.
I can’t wait to read your post Eli! I love the idea of having something to look forward to. Yes, money. Save all the money!
I love this! I’m currently 27 and I try and keep a lot of these in mind right now, especially not letting other people’s life experiences dictate mine. So many people I know have great jobs and/or are married and/or have kids and I don’t really have any of that right – but I’m still enjoying my life, and that’s the main thing!
I really wish I had truly focused on what I wanted and what would make me happy when I was younger. I spent so much mental energy comparing my life to others, even when I wasn’t trying to. Yes, enjoy life! It’s a journey and you really never know where it’s going to take you!
Regarding point no. 3 I think these days it is so easy to compare our lives with others (especially with social media). Doing what is right for yourself is so important.
If I had to give myself advice 10 years ago it would be to re-think studying the course I did through work.
In my 30’s I did courses just for fun and just for myself (a feature writing course and a cake decorating course) and loved it.
I’m so glad Social Media didn’t exist for a lot of my 20s. I love the idea of taking courses just for fun. I could benefit from taking a few cooking classes. Great idea!
So many of these are resonating with me right now. I started taking more days for myself, and spontaneous weekend trips, a couple of years ago and it has helped me so much. It’s amazing what the feeling of looking forward to a long weekend at the beach can do for you! As soon as the plans are booked I feel better. And on not comparing yourself to others, I would add not comparing yourself to your parents! I struggle with that and am trying to break away from it.
Taking time for yourself is so important and I love having something to look forward to. I’m not sure I compared myself to my parents too much but yes, it’s an easy thing to do. I think I was more guilty of comparing myself to what I thought my parents wanted me to be. Whew, there isn’t much good that can come out of that kind of thinking!
[…] any more or I occasionally wear dresses for fun now. Or something deeper like I’ve stopped comparing my life to others or how I see things like love and equality differently than I used to. Or I could […]