What Advice Would You Offer Your Younger Self

No one else notices the pimple. Trust your intuition. Leave the party whenever you want. These are some of the things I would tell baby Caroline, if given the opportunity. Here, 11 women share the warm and funny advice they would offer their younger selves, and I’d love to hear yours…

“Don’t sweat the jobs you didn’t get. When I was in my early twenties and trying to break into the publishing industry, I must have applied for a hundred editorial assistant jobs. The constant rejection was so deflating that I considered throwing in the towel and going to law school instead. I applied to an internship at a well-known magazine not once, not twice, but three times. Turns out the third time was the charm — I got the job, which set the course for my professional life. I don’t believe in fate, but if you keep trying, I do believe things have a way of working out.” — Brettne Bloom

“When you have people over for dinner, don’t try to impress anyone. Give them simple, delicious food made well — meatballs, barbecued chicken and potato salad, macaroni and cheese. No one is grading you. They’re just happy that you’re cooking for them.” — Jenny Rosenstrach

“When I was younger, I was always stressed about my stomach pooch — in high school, in the locker room, whenever I felt it overlapping my pants. I used to wear pants with too high of a rise that would squeeze my pooch. What was I thinking? I wish I could tell my younger self: Wear pants with a lower waistband. No one ever looks at your waist and thinks, ‘Not that flat.’” — Minya Oh

“Let me hold your face in my hands and say this loud and clear: WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAY ABOUT YOU IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. You are not on this earth to be palatable to every person you meet. You are fine on your own, and when you stop begging the wrong people for love, the right person will love you so much you’ll know what all those songs you love were written about. Your life is going to be better than you’ll ever imagine, and harder than you know. All of it is temporary. All of it is worth it. Go forward. And stand up straight.” — Nora McInerny

“I would tell my younger self — and I now tell my daughter — that perfection isn’t the point. The other day, my daughter sang herself to sleep, ‘You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be brave.’ So, she’s teaching me, too.” — Lucy Kalanithi

“Don’t avoid things just because they seem grown up and stressful. For example, guess what you get if you don’t open your mail? A whole lot of stress. So many bills went unpaid and my credit was terrible for years. Relatedly, know that part of your job growing up is to make mistakes. It’s actually crucial in order to learn how to properly react and fix them.” — Emily Henderson

“Life is so much happier with a dog in it.” — Lisa Rubisch

“The thing that comes most easily to you is probably also your superpower. For the longest time I thought my strengths — like making conversation — were nothing special because they felt effortless to me. But over time, I’ve learned that your power lies in your true nature. It is inherently yours, and you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to use it. Own it.” — Uli Beutter Cohen

“I would tell my younger self that college isn’t for everyone (and neither is that debt!), and you aren’t lesser than because you’d like to pause (or in my case, never return) to explore creative jobs (or raise your baby) outside of this. Exploring doesn’t mean that you will end up at some dead-end job; it means you are seeing yourself, and to see oneself is the greatest gift.” — LaTonya Yvette

“When I was younger, I worried that every decision I made would send me down that path for LIFE. Every time I faced a choice of whether to accept a new job, move to a different city or stay in a relationship, I built it up as a definitive, forever-life-altering moment. And while that was true on some level — all the little choices do, in fact, add up to the life that you end up living — I wish I could go back in time and whisper in my own ear, ‘Let this decision just be this decision, not a loaded choice about the rest of your days on earth. You can always reroute.'” — Ann Friedman

“Date the one who makes you laugh. Who makes you think. Who introduces you to your favorite new things. Date the one who listens. Who makes you feel like you are home. And the first and foremost quality in a boyfriend or girlfriend is that he or she likes you back.” — Lisa Rubisch

“Growing up, I was told over and over how sensitive I was and how that wouldn’t do me any favors in ‘the real world.’ If I could go back, I would tell myself from the moment I was born, every emotion I experienced was valid and normal, given my age and view of the world. When people don’t want you to talk about your feelings it’s because they don’t want to have to talk about theirs. That doesn’t make you wrong, it makes you vulnerable. But vulnerability is how you find the people who will love you through the worst of yourself and challenge you to be better. Don’t feel burdened by your humanity. You will learn healthy boundaries and clear communication. You will find that your open heart has been a gift the whole time.” — Ashley Ford

“Your mother was right: Do not over pluck your eyebrows. They do not grow back.” — Brettne Bloom

What would you tell your younger self, if you had the chance?

P.S. Career advice from wise women, celebrities sharing their advice for their younger selves, and on becoming the person you’re meant to be.

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow.)