A couple of weeks ago, when writing the piece about choosing universities, I started thinking about the things I might have told my younger self if only I’d had the presence of mind.
It’s a peculiar exercise. It makes you dig deep in your consciousness to mine any wisdom that might have been buried there over the years. I quite liked that bit. But also, there is obviously an element of thoughtful regret which sat less well with me. On the whole, I wouldn’t change any of the last 47 and 3/4 years but I suppose, if I were pressed….
1. Stop worrying about your weight!
From my early teenage years until after I was married, I exercised like a daemon and counted calories obsessively. I knew the associated energy value of virtually everything that passed my lips and how many I’d burned off. I even had a little book with it all written down. I was like a woman possessed and to what end? The minute I stopped worrying about it, it balanced itself. The up-side is that I’m now quite good at guessing quantities when I bake.
2. Cut those around you a bit of slack.
This one is still a work in progress!
3. Some people will never be able to give you what you’re looking for from them.
It’s taken me a surprisingly long time to realise that we are all motivated by different things and what is gob-smackingly obvious to me doesn’t even feature on someone else’s radar. ‘But they’re not you!’ is something that I still hear more often than I’d care to admit to.
4. Who cares what your peers think?
I’m sure this one rings true with most of us but if I look back at the things that I didn’t do because of the fear of ridicule or standing out from the crowd, I shiver at the missed opportunities. My kids use this dreadful word ‘judged’ and it makes me want to shake them. Who has the right to judge you? Do what you want or what you believe to be right or preferably both and let the onlookers stare.
5. It’s ok to fail.
This kind of links into number 4. You don’t have to wait until your sentence construction is perfect to have a workable conversation. It’s ok to stumble in public. Don’t be afraid.
6. Real friends are a rare breed and when you find one you need to hang on to them.
Friends come and go, floating in and out of your life like flotsam and jetsam and that is fine. Many of them are of the moment. The real ones who will gently tell you the truth rather than what you want to hear, who will go out of their way to help no matter how great the inconvenience to themselves, who can see through the version of yourself that you present to the outside world to the real you… those are the keepers.
7. Being independent will only take you so far.
You can’t always operate as a team of one. Sometimes things work better if you rely on another person to do their bit. Not often but it’s always worth considering!
8. Your hair will never look like you want it to. Live with it!
9. Stay on track.
Being single minded might annoy those around you but it’s the best way to get things done.
10. Don’t stop reading and writing.
Life is going to get pretty hectic so guard the things that you love so that they don’t get left in a dark corner somewhere only to be rediscovered, dusty and flea-bitten, in thirty years’ time.
So there you go. Would I have listened to myself? Maybe ( although see point number 7) but it doesn’t really matter. It’s all part of life’s labyrinth to discover these things for ourselves and as we know, youth is wasted on the young.
What would you tell the younger you?