Looking Back: 7 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self
Everyone regrets something. In fact, those who state they “regret nothing” so confidently after they reach a certain age actually feel quite the opposite deep down. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have the need to proclaim it so overtly. However, while each and every one of us should be at peace with our regrets as an inescapable part of life’s journey, I have to admit, when I’m looking back, there are (at least) 7 things I would tell my younger self.
Life is riddled with mistakes
“Learn from your mistakes” is the most common piece of advice you’ll hear around the world, however, we rarely do, and that is fine. I would tell my younger self not to fuss about mistakes or the fact that I tend to repeat them from time to time. Instead, the only way to overcome that vicious cycle is to fully embrace them. Life is riddled with mistakes, and we all tumble around in the dark. And you know what, I’ve got used to that image with age.
Happiness means nothing
Happiness is a dull instrument and a hollow lie. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. If I knew that when I was younger, I would have stopped the fool’s search for happiness and began searching for PURPOSE a lot sooner. The question I should have been asking myself was not “what will make me happy?” and “how can I achieve it”, but “how can I make myself useful to both myself and those around me”. Finding that purpose is the best thing we can hope for in life.
Don’t break the rules for the sake of it
Breaking the rules is a natural part of growing up. The status quo is a source of anguish and we all need to get into the habit of mixing things up to create a dynamic environment, but don’t break the rules for the sake of it. Some people get into this habit by deluding themselves into thinking the meaning of life hides in the constant process of rule-breaking. It’s a fool’s errand. You will spend energy and get nothing in return, or worse, get an undesirable result.
Start saving as early as you can
This sounds like something out of left field, considering the other pieces of advice are mostly ‘metaphysical’, but in a way, so is this one. You see, money equals independence and freedom, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. They are either idealistic fools with childlike outlook or they want to swindle you out of something. With a sizeable sum of money saved up for the future, you can afford the help of in-home care services and additional luxuries. What’s most important – you will not be a burden to your family, and they’ll be able to go on building their own lives.
Life is about movement, so move
I should have travelled more. The world is a much bigger place than you’ve been told – there are so many people with cultural and historical backgrounds that are drastically different than yours, and clashing with them and getting to know them is an adventure in and of itself. New people and places challenge your ideas and opinions, and that is good. Life is all about movement – it’s intrinsic to the very nature of life, so I must admit I should have moved much more frequently.
Impatience destroys opportunities and friendships. It makes your soul restless, which leads to irritation and anger. You need to dig deep into yourself to find patience. It can be hard because it is not exclusively related to any particular aspect of life. Patience is abstract, independent.
Finally, learn how to accept a compliment
This one’s a bit of a cheat. For one, it means exactly what it says – don’t be uptight, insecure or ineptly humble and learn how to accept a compliment. The person that gives it to you does it in good graces and with good intentions, so take it as such, enjoy it and let it become part of you. Every compliment, IF it’s genuine and deserved, is food for the soul.
However, there is one more little thing I’ve meant by this – and that is to be grateful. Every kind word, every gesture of friendship or love, every good thing that comes your way is its own form of miracle. You see, the only true constant in life is pain, and in order to be prepared to endure it with dignity and composure, you need to appreciate the good things while they last and accept they won’t last forever.
If this sounds dour, then you need to learn a hard fact – it is not. This pain is merely life happening to you, and you cannot escape it. So I propose a radical idea to you, old me: accept this pain, those mistakes and tragedies, as something that is an integral part of life, not a bad thing, but the very cornerstone of what makes our existence. I’ve cheated again. This might be one extra thing I would tell my younger self.
Olivia is psychologist and entrepreneur from Brisbane. Mother of two beautiful children and proud owner of two silly boxer dogs. She is passionate writer, a traveler and conscious consumer, seeking healthy and sustainable products to incorporate into the lives of her family. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world”.