I turned 33 last month. I had always thought by now, I’d be happily married with 3.4 children, a nice big house, and a part-time job. Instead, I find myself single, in a foreign country, starting out a new career. I’m building a whole new life from scratch.
I’ve never been happier.
Life never turns out the way we planned it, does it? I may finally be living my dream, but it wasn’t – isn’t – an easy ride. Looking back, there are so many things I wish I had known or done differently.
If I could go back in time, here are the life tips I’d give my younger, struggling, lost self:
1. Life Is Good
I know it doesn’t feel like it now. School sucks. You barely have any friends. And your family is a mess. You just want to disappear. But it’ll get better, I promise. Life is good. Not every day. Sometimes, not even every month. Or every year. But most of it is good. You’ll go on to do some amazing things, meet wonderful people, and achieve some of your dreams. Stick in there, kiddo.
2. Nobody Is Ever Going To Save You
No amount of money or knight in shiny armour will ever be able solve your problems. You’ll have to solve them on your own. When you realise that, you’ll be able to tap into your own strengths and resources. They run a lot deeper than you think.
3. Choose A Different Course Of Study
Choosing a course of study so you can be with your best friend (who, by the way, will ditch you soon) is dumb. Psychology and pedagogy are fascinating, but your real passions are writing and languages. Follow them. Even if you have to do it alone. Even if other people think they won’t land you a real job. They’re wrong, anyway.
4. If Something Scares You, Do It
Don’t do anything dangerous, of course. Just stop letting fear dictate what you can and can’t do. Fear is a bitch. It keeps you safe, but steals your dreams and lowers your self-esteem. Ask yourself, “what would I do, if I weren’t afraid?,” and then do it. It’s terrifying, but oh so worth it.
5. You Can Do Anything
And that brings me to my next point. You’re a lot stronger and more resourceful than you give yourself credit for. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to, if you’re willing to work hard enough for it. Dreams don’t work unless you do. It’ll take time, though, so start now.
6. You Don’t Have To Go Down The Typical Path
So what if everyone’s going to uni and you aren’t? Or if your friends get married before you do? You don’t have to follow the path others have set out for you. You can just do your own thing. Follow your dreams, and do what feels right for you. Everything else will fall into place.
7. Exercise More
I know you hate exercise, but try and go for a long, brisk walk every day. It’ll help you improve your mood and help you recover from depression. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel afterwards.
8. Be True To Yourself
Be who you are, say what you feel, stick to your values, and chase your dreams. Don’t try to change to please others. It won’t work anyway. Be 100% unapologetically you. Those who love you, will stick around. Anyone else just doesn’t matter.
9. Take Every Opportunity To Travel
Even on your own. It’s not as scary and lonely as you think. It’ll open up your mind, broaden up your horizons, and add a different dimension to your life.
10. If Someone Treats You Like Shit, There’s Something Wrong With Them, Not You
You’ll get bullied at school, and struggle to make friends well into your 30s. Lots of people will take you for granted and treat you like shit. Just remember, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Good people don’t go around hurting others. If someone treats you badly, they’re the damaged ones. Just walk away.
11. Focus More On Your Friends, Less On Boyfriends
It’s so easy to be completely consumed by a relationship when you’re young. But your friends are important too. Don’t complain they aren’t there when you need them to if you don’t make time for them. You’ll all be going your separate ways before you know it anyway. Spend more time having fun with the girls, and create beautiful memories you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.
12. Embrace Your Quirks
They’re not what makes you wrong. They’re what makes you special. Unique. You. I know it’s difficult to believe now, but being weird is a wonderful thing.
13. Start A Blog
Ok, blogs aren’t a thing yet (gosh, I feel so old now). Livejournal is. Get an account, and pour your thoughts, feelings, and life in it. It’ll rekindle your passion for writing, help you turn it into a career, and even connect with amazing people all over the world. I know it’s cheesey, but it’ll completely transform your life.
14. Be Curious
Try new things. Ask questions. Do something you don’t think you can. Get out of your comfort zone. There’s no growth there.
15. Stop Watching So Much TV
Most of it is rubbish anyway, and just makes you feel flawed and inferior. Go back to books. And get out of the house too. Live your life, don’t just watch fictional people live out theirs.
16. Always Follow Your Gut
Your head and your heart are always fighting. One wants you to follow your dreams and throw caution to the wind, the other wants you to stay safe and don’t take any risks at all. Listen to them both, and then follow you gut. It always tell you when something doesn’t feel right. And it’s never, ever, wrong.
What life tips would you give your younger self?