Relationships

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

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.)

  1. Lisa says...

    You can’t train your hair…

  2. MC says...

    Just came across this while procrastinating on my last paper of college–so fitting!

    I’m graduating in 2 days, which still seems crazy to me, and Ann’s advice echoes what a lot of older and wiser people have told me. It’s incredibly reassuring to be reminded of this again and again as I still try to figure out precisely what is I want to do next. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Elizabeth Martin says...

    Practice skepticism. I grew up in the evangelical culture of rural east TN–the worldview I was presented was one of a conservative Christian ethic that could not be questioned or challenged. I now teach high school in rural southwest Virginia and spend my days with young people who are growing up in the same way I grew up: with a worldview that is limited, myopic, and entrenched in more prejudice and authoritarianism than they’ve ever thought (or been taught) to recognize.

    Oh how I wish I’d had a teacher who looked at me when I was in high school and said something along the lines of, “Be skeptical. Question everything. Question religion. Question politics. Question culture and society and your teachers and your ministers and your lawmakers and anyone who wants your money or your time or your vote or any other of your precious resources. Hold everything up to the harsh light of scrutiny.” As it is, I had to get to college before I was presented with this new ethic. Therefore, I try to be that teacher today for the young people in my class who need it most.

    Skepticism and empathy are the core values I seek to impart to my students. If I can keep them questioning and keep them empathizing, I feel like I’ve done my job.

    • janee says...

      But how beautiful that you are now a teacher who can offer that perspective from a place they can relate to!

    • rae says...

      Elizabeth – this is fabulous, skepticism and empathy. Yes & yes, especially together!

    • Kelly says...

      when i was in high school I read about a speaker who told college students “TFYQA – Think For Yourself, Question Authority”. I loved that and still do.

      (I think i read it, in all places, in my dad’s Notre Dame alumni magazine. Not the place i’d expect to get that kind of advice, but I’ll take it all the same…)

  4. Amanda says...

    This post brings me right back to the days of laying on my bedroom floor listening to Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen. Anyone remember that one?
    I was adopted as an infant, so growing up I always put this enormous pressure on myself to be perfect. To make my parents proud, to make my birth parents proud should we ever meet, to show them all that everything they had been through had been worth it. It took me a really long time to figure out that that wasn’t mine to carry.
    I would tell my younger self, “take breath, baby girl. Breathe slow and deep. Give yourself permission to stumble, to make mistakes, to change direction. That love that you feel in your bones is never going to go away. And you, my love, are going to be just fine.”

  5. Jane says...

    Wear sunscreen. Write thank you notes. Learn to cook 2-3 things you can always make without a recipe. Pay off your credit card debt (or never take it on in the first place). Be kind to your knees: for God’s sake, don’t keep running when you feel that first tweak. Floss. Ask for what you need – no one can read your mind, even if you think they should be able to. Try to explain why you’re mad/upset/hurt: holding it in makes it worse. Read more books; watch less TV. Recycle, compost, walk more & drive less, turn off the lights – do everything you can to protect our planet. Ranch dressing on pizza should be an intuitive no – put it down. Each relationship teaches you something, even if it’s what you don’t want. Your career will likely make more sense in hindsight than in foresight. Prioritize good health insurance, even when you’re young and healthy. Don’t write something in an email (even your personal) that you don’t want forwarded. Sleep. Say yes to ice cream, whenever it’s on offer. Stay alert to the news, but turn it off when you need to.

    Most importantly: Don’t expect any one thing or person to be your be all/end all: your job, even if you love it, is still a job and not your identity. Your partner, even if you (hopefully deeply!) love him/her, is not responsible for your happiness – you are.

    And VOTE.

    • Jane says...

      from one Jane to another- this was perfect!!

    • Amber says...

      Strongly disagree re: ranch dressing on pizza. Forever and always, no regrets. :)

    • Love everything about this comment!

      I second the VOTE! (and everything else).

  6. SFord says...

    1) having a boyfriend who makes you feel stupid just because you didn’t go to university is not okay
    2) If Plan A doesn’t work out, create a Plan B. Quite often it will end with better results than Plan A!

  7. Liz says...

    Yes to all of these except the eyebrow comment is not universal! Some of us are hairy and overwhelmed by the quickness of regrowth lol

  8. Pursue what you love early on and don’t worry if the industry is dying, won’t pay well, there are naysayers, etc. Even if it’s not what you will do 3 years down the line, at least you developed an interest, a passion, and go from there.
    As another person advised, decisions and choices are not forever; you can pivot when the time is right!

  9. sarah p gee says...

    Pretending you are having a good time in bed (when you really aren’t) does nobody any favors. Expect (and ask for) reciprocation… everyone will be better off in the long run!
    Also, you are what you eat. – pasta is not a health food.

  10. Y says...

    1. Don’t waste one more minute being angry. They are not even aware of it and it is only hurting you. Forgiveness takes every bit of strength you have, but you will be free and it will be worth it!

    2. Love the body, hair, skin God gave you and appreciate what you have and stop longing for what you don’t. You don’t know it yet, but other girls would love to have your white skin that only burns and your big curly hair you keep straightening!

    • Y says...

      And please know by “white skin”, I mean for being Hispanic, I had to stay out of the sun when all of my friends turned a beautiful golden brown and I became a peeling tomato!

  11. Maranda says...

    Don’t be afraid to be alone- I recently re-read some old journals, and oh boy, hindsight is 20/20. It became so clear to me how terrified I was to be alone and so I would settle for relationships that weren’t right for me or didn’t make me happy.

    Don’t be afraid to try/You don’t always have to be the best to enjoy something- I did not enjoy any type of physical activities when I was younger unless I was the best at it. I tried and gave up so many activities- basketball, dance, horseback riding, etc. I would get so down on myself about not being the best and would be quick to give up when I didn’t excel. Now I have a happy fitness routine where I move my body because it brings me joy and makes me feel good about myself, not to be the best!

    Calm the f*** down- Thinking back to some of the things I said or did at high school or college social events makes me cringe to this day. I think I was so desperate to be liked and have people think I was funny that I developed this persona that was so extra. I wish I had been comfortable enough with myself to let my true personality shine instead of trying so freaking hard.

  12. being kind doesn’t cost anything, so be kind.

    sign up for the 401K the moment you can – don’t leave money on the table.

    go on the trip to Puerto Rico – you won’t end up with the boy but the fun that could’ve been had!

    • Cecile says...

      Ask for help.

  13. Tish O says...

    Don’t worry so much about what other people think. You do you and be good with that wisdom you have.

  14. Sarah says...

    I would tell my younger self: I love you. Color outside the lines and don’t worry about what your critical voice says. It’s okay to be angry. Trust your intuition. Give yourself and others some grace. You do not have to do it all.

  15. Michaela says...

    Also, I wish I could tell 20-something me that exercise isn’t only a way to lose weight, and it’s certainly not a punishment for any food choices you made or times you sat on the couch watching TV. There are so many other benefits to moving your body joyfully every day, and the sooner you find what makes you feel good, the sooner you can start to enjoy all those things you’re going to try in your late 20s & 30s, like walking up a mountain or carrying everything you need for three days on your back into the wilderness!

    I’m 30 now and I’m the most active I’ve ever been in my whole life, and I feel so strong. But it was an uphill battle to get here! Science has proven its easier to regain muscle you’ve had before than to start from scratch, and it’s easier to build muscle the younger you are. So do it now, not because you want to look “cute” in that bikini this summer or because you feel like you ate too much soft serve from the campus cafeteria, but because you’ll be giving a gift to your future self that will carry you everywhere you want to go.

    • RobberSoup says...

      This is so beautiful! “…a gift to your future self that will carry you everywhere you want to go.” What a wonderful idea.

  16. Lee says...

    I strongly identified with Ashley Ford’s advice to her younger self. I was always told I was too sensitive, too emotional, etc. I wish I could have seen that as a gift.

    I would also tell myself that my most important task is learning to love and care for myself. I spent years putting other people first and am finally mending myself in my early thirties.

    • EP says...

      Amen to this. I wish I would have put even a fraction of the effort in to my relationship with myself, that I put in to the relationships with people who did not matter. I’m grateful that at 33 I have finally prioritized myself above everyone else, and have realized that taking care of yourself is in no way selfish!

  17. “You will find that your open heart has been a gift the whole time.”

    THANK YOU! 💗

  18. Julie says...

    “You don’t need to lose weight to live your life. Don’t avoid social situations and relationships because you think you’re fat.” I wish I had appreciated my youthful body and energy when I was in my teens and 20s.

  19. Michaela says...

    You become who you spend time with. It took me a long time to realize this, and I spent a lot of time in negative or somewhat toxic friendships that weren’t serving me and where I wanted to grow anymore. And even when I decided I was ready for some distance, my reputation for being associated with those friends made it harder to establish trust in other relationships.

  20. Lauren E. says...

    I know mostly it comes with age, but I’d tell my younger self, “You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.”

    I cared so much about people’s opinion of me when I was younger and as I reach my mid-30s I have a confidence I never thought possible. I’m just me, adult acne, cellulite, overplucked eyebrows and all.

  21. Maryann says...

    Thank you Ashley Ford. I needed to hear that.

  22. Jill D says...

    Do not let the things you do not have/achieve spoil the good life you do have.

  23. Tara I says...

    That it’s okay to not listen to your parents. Go to Africa at 18. Turn town Teach for America to take a job making $1000 in Honduras for the entire summer. This is your making. Move to San Francisco with $500, you will meet your husband on the streets of Berkeley canvassing. You will be an hour late to your job at UCSF because you thought you could walk from BART. Your boss will later tell you that she chose you because you went to public schools and were a waitress, and nothing else mattered on your resume. The late nights, the crying, the babysitting years later to pay your rent is all a part of your story. Later you will marry this man on a rainy spring day. It will be beautiful. You will have a miscarriage on your birthday two years later, he will walk out of the home you built together and never return. You will think this is the end of your life. You will be broken, but never alone. Your friends will hold you. Take you to dance class, you will begin writing again and have a poetry show a year later. You will do the work. Plant a garden. Start therapy. You will fly to Africa again, but now work pays. You will fall in love again, in a way you never could imagine because you are vulnerable and raw and mostly because you know yourself and love yourself wholly in a way you could have never imagined. You are only 32. The best is yet to come.

    • Isabel says...

      Wow this is beautiful, Tara. Thank you so much for sharing your story. The best is yet to come! <3

    • K says...

      What a beautiful story Tara & a reminder that I needed that nothing is final even in my late 20s when it feels like my youth years are slipping away – the best is yet to come!

    • Fiona Lee says...

      I absolutely loved this and am so inspired. Thank you for sharing <3

  24. Sadie says...

    Hang in there! Spend some time on the hobbies you love .. and with the friends who love you! And bake pies. They have the habit of making things just a tiny bit easier.

  25. Erin G. says...

    1. Wear sunscreen.
    2. It’s okay to not know the answer (and it’s okay to not give your opinion, and even to ask someone to explain something to you that you think you “should” know about).
    3. If you think you should end it, END IT. (Whatever it is.)

  26. Jessica says...

    eliminate “should” — with relationships, with friends, with your parents, with jobs. Instead of being guided by feelings of guilt or owing, give of yourself when you want to and it feels good; spend extra time at work when it’s rewarding; have sex because it will feel good or bring you closer; eat food you want to eat. Learn to identify your own desires and wishes and let them be your guide. This is harder than it sounds.

  27. Sadie says...

    It’s totally ok to think that “going to the bar” sucks. Don’t go! It will not make you less “cool” or interesting, and you will not lose friends that are worth having. If anything, all that incessant reading and baking and crafting you love while sitting at home alone on a Saturday night eating grilled-cheese will be something about you that your future friends and husband love too. (And marry the goofy guy who takes you ice-skating — he makes the best grilled-cheese ever.)

  28. Lisa says...

    All of these quotes are brilliant but I think Uli Beutter Cohen’s quote could change my life.

  29. Hilary says...

    1. To use the hip and cool slang of today’s youth: embrace JOMO (joy of missing out) vs. FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s okay to not go out if you don’t want to. I always feared I’d miss this EPIC night but realistically, nothing major happened, endless inside jokes were not created, and so on.

    2. Just eat the cookie. Don’t spend so much of your 20’s fearful of gaining weight.

  30. Val says...

    I’d tell a younger me to have more fun, that things are not so serious all the time, and to have a larger friends circle. I should probably tell current me this too.

  31. Virginia says...

    GO TO THERAPY! You have an anxiety disorder and it doesn’t make you broken. Beating yourself up for “feeling too much” doesn’t serve anyone. Find someone who can help.

    • Jb says...

      I was gonna write this! ‘What you’re feeling is an anxiety disorder, it doesnt have to be like this – get on this lexapro, it’s amazing’

  32. Abigail says...

    Alcohol isn’t the height of sophistication and fun!

  33. Kate says...

    Keep talking. Keep sharing. It matters what you’re thinking and feeling, even if it’s messy, even if there’s no time, even if it means you take up more space than the world thinks you deserve.

    And listen to your gut, and with the exception of jumping off exceptionally tall things or snorting anything up your nose, do what you want to do. Chances are, it’s not going to kill you. And life does not begin and end with the acceptance of others or parental approval.

  34. Kristin says...

    I would say, “Do not be afraid of failure! Failure doesn’t define you, it helps you to learn and grow.”

    Failure wasn’t an option in my house growing up (or in college for that matter) and it’s something I’ve only started to make space for and understand this year. It’s been really freeing!

  35. My youngest son is graduating from college, so advice is on my mind. These are some great lessons. I would also tell my younger self to not lose sight of your dreams. Don’t lose yourself while you are so busy taking care of others.

  36. Judy says...

    Start yoga sooner, your body and mind will thank you.
    Don’t apologize for being a geek and wanting to look things up in the encyclopedia when you don’t know the answer or you want to understand how something works. When you are older there will be computers and this thing called Google and you will be very happy with it all.
    Do not despair, you will find someone who loves you and is still by your side at 65. You still like each other too!
    You can love and respect your parents, but reject the limitations and labels they put on you.
    Last, but not least, you are beautiful, even if no one told you so, and even if some made fun of you. Your future children will find the rare odd
    picture you let them take and marvel and tell you how beautiful you were. So, let someone take more pictures, you will wish you had them.
    I have really enjoyed reading all these comments, and ruminating and remembering. Thank you for this post.

  37. olivia says...

    I am 29 but I would already give some advice to my 18 year old self :
    – worry less about what others people think of you : no, you can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t want to.
    – Surround yourself with kind and positive people. Non you don’t have to force a relationship just because there is history or because 5 years ago this person was important to you. You have one life, don’t waste it with people who are not supportive/kind.
    – start therapy now, you think you don’t need it but you do so start now
    – don’t date this guy because you are lonely, because you want to prove something to others or because your ex boyfriend is engaged. the right man will come along, or not , but it does not matter. stay true yo yourself
    – trust your gut. if you have a strong feeling about a situation or a person, listen to yourself and follow your intuition.
    – read the four agreements
    – exercice : no, you dont need to run a marathon to change your body/mind. move, walk, danse ; you will always feel better after doing it and guess what, you will be addicted to it, that is right, you read that right !
    – don’t let others peoples (or your families) fears / projections / pains get in the way. You are your own person and only you can make the right choices for YOU. Some people will try to hurt you but always remember that it is only because they are suffering.
    – be kind, smile, enjoy every minute. you will lose people you love so much, this will hurt very bad but you will learn so much from it. You will grow and learn to love the littlest things in life

  38. Tess says...

    I just put “You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be brave” on a sticky note at my desk.
    Tearing up this morning over a lot of these. Thanks for the wisdom, CoJ community!

  39. Genevieve says...

    Try some sports!!

    I had this fixed idea growing up that I “wasn’t sporty” because I was academic. Went along to some group PT sessions at 24 and started loving exercise OVERNIGHT. If only I’d realised earlier I could have had lots of fun :)

    Everything else, I think it was important to work through the mistakes so no regrets.

  40. Martini says...

    I wish I could have told myself and my husband the tragedy that would leave us alone would not kill us, that we’d survive and gradually know a new happiness. That we’d need to hold very tight to each other and hang on. Both of us were destroyed and we needed to treat each other gently and with kindness. That we’d breathe again. And laugh again. And be grateful for this life and all the goodness it would give to us.
    I wish we had known.

    • Claire says...

      Oh, girl. May kindness, peace and healing find you and light your way forward.

  41. Julia says...

    You don’t have to be friends with someone you don’t like. Establishing boundaries isn’t mean, in and of itself. You can establish boundaries and still be kind.

  42. zeynepelif says...

    Walk away from boyfriends who make you feel bad! He simply cannot be the one. Don’t waste your time! Enjoy your youth!

  43. Absolutely adore all these comments! What I would add is:

    Your mistakes don’t define you.
    A lot can change in a year.
    It’s much harder to be mean than it is to be kind.
    Aaaaand, just because you’re honest and close with your parents, there are just some things they neither want nor need to know, ha!

  44. Katie says...

    Become great at apologizing and forgiving. Don’t hold a grudge.

    Don’t apologize for who you are and what you like. Surround yourself with people who support and love you just as you are. Own your interests.

    Find a role model. Forgive your parents for not being role models.

    Find ways to add moments of joy to your daily life.

    Trust. Your. Gut.

    You really do have to love and accept yourself before anyone else will too. So do it!!

    Your partner will be worth the wait. For real.

  45. You’ll grow into your face… and begin to see it as a map of all the family members you cherish.

  46. Christie says...

    Love yourself more; nobody is watching you; it’s okay to be alone; work harder.

  47. J Jasperson says...

    I would tell my high school self to not shrink to fit into anyone else’s box. And I wish I would have told more boys to f*ck off for nasty comments or grabbing girls bodies, etc.

  48. agnes says...

    That post and those comments just make me feel like hugging each person in this community. I love this so positive blog that makes me want to be a better person. Thank you.

  49. Nigerian Girl says...

    1) Forgive yourself.

    2) Don’t put up with anyone who doesn’t deserve you.

    3) Don’t be intimate with a boy if you don’t like him. It will haunt you years later, hence my first point.

    4) End that friendship now. It’s extremely toxic, emotionally draining, and not worth the time and the energy.

    5) You don’t owe the world any explanation for your life choices.

    6) Keep smiling only when you feel like it. You’re onto something there.

    7) Don’t compare yourself to other writers and don’t fret about being an unknown, unaccomplished writer. Instead, keep writing, keep submitting your work, and remain focused. The future will surprise you.

    8) Leave your eyebrows alone. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    9) Oh, and you are still very much single and perfectly fine with it, by the way. Sorry if you were hoping the status quo has changed.

  50. Lulu says...

    Thank you Ann Friedman for your advice in this post. It particularly resonated with me. It would have been great advice for the growing-up me and it’s fantastic for the right-this-moment me.

  51. Sara says...

    I’m a seventeen year old senior in high school (graduation is in 2.5 weeks!) and I LOVE reading these comments. I read CoJ frequently, and love how wise many of the comments are, on this post or any other. It’s like a while community of older women to learn from.

    • Sara says...

      WHOlE community darn it!

  52. Deidre says...

    My younger self was alright, actually, it’s my older self in need of advice!
    But I would throw in: hold fast to your financial independence.

  53. Elizabeth says...

    So, so good.

    I resonated the most with the “serve simple food to company” advice. I needed to hear this. My dinner guests and I have suffered enough! NEVER AGAIN, BLUE CHEESE SCALLOPED POTATOES WITH BACON THAT TOOK 4 HOURS TO COOK WHEN THE RECIPE CLAIMED 75 MINUTES. NEVER AGAIN.

  54. Tracy says...

    As shallow as it sounds, I’d tell that girl about straight irons. I felt powerless against my frizzy hair, and when you’re an awkward teenage girl, it’s just nice to feel a little prettier sometimes.

  55. retro-roost says...

    Take a year off for culinary school, and learn to cook, really cook.

  56. Jodi says...

    Don’t wear uncomfortable shoes. Don’t make decisions based on fear. There are so so many things in life that are beyond your control, remember that your power lies in how you choose to respond. Happiness is a habit and a choice. Life goes faster and faster, don’t wait to do the things you long to do. Smile at yourself in the mirror.

  57. Susan says...

    for heaven’s sake, FLOSS.

  58. Karen Decker says...

    Use being underestimated to fuel your resolve. I grew up a petite, biracial Asian female. I was mistakenly marked “absent” in Kindergarten because my teacher could not hear me say “Here” during roll call. When playing softball in elementary school, the opposing team’s coach would yell, “everyone in!” as soon as I stepped up to the plate. I would tell my younger self this secret: your power is covert but mighty. When you struggle, bring all the wisdom and unrequited competence of your mother, grandmothers and great-grandmothers and ask them to fill the room when you need warriors in your corner – and do right by them.

  59. Jill Palumbo says...

    I would give myself practical advice – stay out of the sun and take care of my skin, keep fit and active, take care of my teeth, watch my debt, and don’t marry the wrong man.

  60. Ali says...

    “You made the best decision you could have with the information you had at the time”

  61. Hannah says...

    I would tell my younger self:
    You are enough and you are ok, just as you are.

    I continue to tell my not-so-young-self this fairly often, as it hasn’t sunk in just yet.

    • J Jasperson says...

      YES, same!

  62. Renee says...

    I feel like college and graduate school trained me to always say yes, to always accept more and more responsibility. It’s hard but healthy to learn how to say no, without apology.

  63. Hilary says...

    You are stronger than your pain, which threatens to lay you flat on some days. You are stronger than the friend who is suddenly distant, the boy who has broken your heart because he’s just a boy who loves you but doesn’t know how, and the parent who is broken, too. Eventually the pain will pass, some of the love will be left and some will be gone, and you will remain – whole and intact, scarred in places, but gentler and kinder and wiser than before.

    • anja says...

      Dear Hilary, this is so beautiful and speaks to me so, so much. Thank you for putting it into words. Love, Anja

  64. C says...

    My new mantra “it’s not just good, it’s good enough”

  65. Kathy says...

    Your feelings are legitimate. Be deeply suspicious of anyone who makes you feel otherwise.

    There will always be someone who seems prettier, skinnier, funnier, better. If you live your life by comparison, you will never. be. happy.

  66. Alex says...

    Your sisters will become your best friends; you’re not weird for not wanting to go to that party, you’re an introvert; adulthood will give you the free will you craved in school; learn how to handle stress more gracefully because it never goes away; wear your damn retainer; thank your parents more often.

  67. Amanda says...

    It’s okay to stand up for yourself and draw firm boundaries, especially if no one else is going to.

  68. Meghan says...

    This still rings true in my head as it did for the 18 year old college student way back when- lose your virginity to someone you care about and who equally cares about you. You don’t have to marry them, you won’t marry him, even if you spoke about it. You will look back on that period many times in your life and be proud of that decision whether you end up together or not.

  69. Katie says...

    That life is today, and now, and to stop thinking I should delay things that make me whole until a “better” time. I kept thinking there would be a time when I would have everything figured out. Now I’m realizing that part of the fun in life is the opportunity to keep growing and learning and changing at every stage.
    I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease a few years ago. It was a wake up call to really live and savor the current moment, and to stop only living for the future because the only certainty in life is uncertainty. I adopted a dog and she is the greatest! There’s nothing like a wagging tail to remind me how special the current moment is, and to look for the joy in it the way my dog does.

  70. Andrea says...

    My 24-year-old self: “Ohmygosh, I’ll be in school until I’m 34 if I go that route!”
    Today, 42-year-old self: “Darling, you’re going to be 34 someday anyway (and lucky to be here, healthy and alive). Do what lights your heart up.”

  71. MelTown says...

    Be brave. I missed so many opportunities because I was afraid. Afraid of disappointing my parents, afraid of failing, afraid of burning in Hell for all eternity. Every regret I have in my life is something I didn’t try.

    Also, younger me, don’t listen to your parents. They mean well, but they’re nuts.

  72. Katie says...

    I would tell 20 year old Katie to stop thinking your fat. One day you will be underweight because your body is dying from a rare disease. You will miss that pudgy belly and those strong thighs because they were healthy and disease free.

    • Lauren says...

      Aw Katie that is definitely some perspective, sending you lots of love

    • BW says...

      Praying for you

    • Alex says...

      ❤️❤️❤️

    • Janin says...

      Love to you fellow human <3 Thank you for sharing.

    • Lindsay says...

      Oh, my heart. Sending you a big hug, Katie!

    • A says...

      ❤️

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Sending you light and strength, Katie. Hang in there.

    • Ana says...

      I’m so sorry to read that, Katie.

      Sending a lot of love your way and hoping you find the least painful way to deal with it.

    • Natalie says...

      Holding you in light, Katie

    • Kristin says...

      Sending you a big hug and lots of love, Katie.

    • Ali says...

      So sorry Katie. Thank you for bravely sharing this, a reminder to treasure our bodies and lives no matter how imperfect they may be xxx

    • Rae says...

      Oh, Katie : (
      So, so sorry.

    • C. says...

      So much peace and love to you, strong warrior woman.

  73. Liz says...

    This post (and the comments) totally made me cry. Some profound stuff, y’all. <3 Loved reading this!!

  74. Sumi says...

    I would tell my younger self: Hope for the best, AND prepare for the best!
    Being pessimistic was my M.O. for so long…it really led me to under-achieve. After reframing my “prepare for the worst” thinking, my life has changed

    • :)

  75. Molly says...

    That it is okay to be a prude and not “hook up” and sleep with the wrong people. You don’t have to sleep with a guy right away. The right guy will wait for you.
    Also, there is someone out there for you – there is someone for most people, and you don’t have to try and make it work with some guy who is “sorta right” because he was better than the last one. Not worth it. You will know in your gut, and listen to that gut.

    • Callie says...

      I love everything about this. Thank you.

    • Alyssa says...

      PREACH!

    • A says...

      Oh my goodness this is the best and so absolutely true!!! Young people reading this … never forget it. And if You believe in God he will show the right person – hands down.

  76. Alex says...

    1) Travel the world as much as you can while you are young, single, and child-free. Stay in hostels, eat street food, drink cheap wine.
    2) Unless you are the business owner or profit-sharing partner, remember that your job is just a fee for services arrangement. “We’re a family here at xxx company”. No you’re not. You’re a business.

    • Lindsey says...

      Oh that second one. Here, here. I got burned more than once by buying into that mentality (a common one in higher education). Ironically, once I learned my lesson I was able to have more perspective about my work.

  77. M says...

    Just ask him out.

    • Jackie says...

      I asked my husband out and it worked out great. So I’d second your advice to just ask him out.

  78. Alison says...

    Stop being so hard on yourself (and your parents!). We’re all just doing the best we can.

    Also, second to the “trust your intuition”. It is NEVER wrong (you’re brain may be wrong but if you truly tap into your gut feeling, it’s always right).

  79. Erin says...

    Be a good friend.

  80. Love all of these so much! I think the thing I would most want to tell my younger self is this:

    Relationships — whether personal or professional, romantic or platonic — should not be secrets. If you feel like a relationship needs to stay secret, or someone else makes you feel that way, then something in your situation needs to change.

    • Callie says...

      Oh this one is amazing! And so true. Thank you!

    • Alyssa says...

      Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

  81. eliot says...

    “Save more money than you want to or think you should. Be more thoughtful about the things you invest in. You’ll be glad to have some savings when you decide to take the huge leap coming your way.”

    “Don’t waste your time on him.” (x3)

    “When you’re with your parents, give them every ounce of your attention. You will miss them more than you can imagine.”

  82. jd says...

    I would tell my younger self that yes, it’s great to date the people that are deeply passionate and magnetic and adventurous but also, most importantly, make sure that they are KIND! I didn’t always prioritize “kindness” in my partners and boy were they some long and exhausting relationships!

  83. Jill says...

    But my eyebrows DO grow back! I’ve been plucking them for 30 years!! Hahaha! Serious!

    • Judy says...

      They only grow back if you don’t want them to…

    • Emily says...

      This so much!!!

    • Kim says...

      Haha, yes! My eyebrows are thick so I’m just *waiting* for the plucked parts to not grow back!

  84. Debbie says...

    Don’t just follow your strengths or things that come easily. There’s a huge range of experience between excellence and complete failure. You don’t have to be good at something to really enjoy doing it!

  85. aly says...

    step away from those men who remind you of broken birds! you can pour endless amounts of yourself into them and it will never heal their wounds . . . and you will just be emptied.

  86. Kalista Campbell says...

    Don’t sell yourself short.

    I limited myself in so many ways, from my education, my relationships, my career, even my living situation.

    It makes me sad because now, with a bit of life experience I know I’m totally capable of so many things, none of them I even considered because I didn’t think I was “that girl”.

    • Susan says...

      Be kind, always.
      Don’t judge others.
      Follow your gut.
      Surround yourself with people that light you up.
      Don’t be afraid to fail—take that intimidating class, join a student group, do more that challenges you to leave your little piece of the world.

  87. Emily says...

    Wear socks. And buy a really good jacket. Life is too short to be cold.

    • Callie Kurtz says...

      Amen. My life changed so much for the better when I learned this.

    • Andrea says...

      Lol’ed at this!!! I think this would be my mom’s advice to her past self.

    • Elizabeth says...

      I read once that to live in a cold climate you need to buy a big puffy coat that’s long enough to cover your butt. It’s SO TRUE! I spent way too much time feeling cold in a stylish coat when the ‘gigantic black puffy coat down to my calves’ was always the answer!

    • Lisa says...

      This. 100% this.

  88. Credit cards are not your friends! Learn how to budget and pay for things in cash. Pizza and Jimmy John’s are not necessities.

    Also: stop buying white pants. You ruin them every time!

    • Susan says...

      I love you! White pants are not for everyone.

  89. Sarah Issaelkhoury says...

    Do not accept the idea that you aren’t worthy of real, true, romantic, passionate love from your partner. Contentment is lovely, but by itself it isn’t enough. You deserve to be treasured.

  90. Em says...

    To my younger self I would say: “You will figure it out!!! Whatever challenges come your way, you will work through them armed with the strength and smarts that have gotten you to this point.”

  91. Laurie says...

    Please, young folks, wear ear protection. Going to loud shows is like the equivalent of staring at an eclipse but with your ears! And it’s sound, not sunlight. But you get my point. It won’t diminish the fun, and then you don’t have to spend your 40s saying, “What?”

  92. Meg says...

    I love the quote from Uli! That’s such a good reminder for me. I dwell on the things that are hard for me, always wondering why I’m not better at it, or improving faster. Meanwhile, a number of things are a breeze for me but I never appreciate that, because I just think “oh it’s easy so no big deal.” Hello self, that’s the point! I wrote this down and will try to remind myself often.

  93. Julee says...

    Nora McInery’s advice has me in tears.
    Thank you, you’re speaking to me!

  94. Kile says...

    When I was younger, I was terrified of earnest people, terrified that it would rub off on me and make me uncool. Now when my life is full of things I deeply, deeply care about I wish my knee jerk reaction wasn’t to be sarcastic or make a joke; I wish that it didn’t feel so awkward to take something seriously. So, my advice would be: there’s nothing wrong with being earnest. It’s beautiful, rare, and rewarding in a way that irony will never be.

    • Sophie says...

      I’ve reached the age where I know that caring is cool, and knowledge is power, but damn I wish I’d realised that sooner.

    • Elizabeth says...

      I agree with that! In my late 20’s I realized that my cynicism was stopping me from enjoying the things I truly loved for the sake of being “cool.” Now I’m just going about my 30’s enjoying everything, no matter what it is or how dorky it makes me. I had to work to cognitively restructure my responses to things for a few years, but over time I’ve been able to lay that kind of thinking to rest. I’ve noticed it’s also gained me a wider circle of friends because even if I don’t participate in what they love to do, I’m 100% interested in what makes them happy and people love it when you reflect genuine enthusiasm about their interests back to them.

    • Rae says...

      So well said Kile. My youthful cynicism was the death of fun, all to avoid being vulnerable…
      I tell my daughter to be brave and honest. I hope she can absorb it.

  95. Maywyn says...

    Study, focus on preparing for your future; and don’t let anyone’s negative attitude stop you from achieving your goals; friends don’t use friends, face it when you are being used, and walk away.

  96. Erin says...

    If you don’t have the patience to blow-dry your hair, tell your hairdresser. This will save you from a lot of haircuts that look cute when you walk out of the salon and cruddy the other 99% of the time.

  97. shireen says...

    I wish I could go back and tell myself to stop doubting whether I could do something new or daring or different. I used to listen to the voice in my head that said I wasn’t smart enough, or pretty enough or experienced enough to go after something! In my 20s, I thought everyone else around me had it all figured out – so they were the ones that deserved the reward of going after something new. Now that I’m older, I’ve been very happy to realize that nobody knows WTF they’re doing and we’re all just bumbling around trying to not totally eff things up along the way! If anyone needs to see this: DO NOT listen to that negative voice in your head. GO and apply for that job, talk to that boy or girl, book that trip, buy those shoes!

    Oh, and if I could go back and redo so many times when I was younger that I should have skipped the “thing I have to do” and gone and done the thing that made me happy with the people I love. I’ve realized that you’ll never remember the good night of sleep you got, but you’ll remember that one random adventure with your best friend.

  98. B says...

    I cannot wait to read the comments on this post. I would tell myself to please be gentle with yourself. And with other people, who have their own private burdens to carry. But I *still* need to tell myself this, all too often. I also wanted to add that Lucy’s advice really hit home. I wonder if she would ever consider writing a book. I think many of us would be in line to read it.

  99. Emily says...

    ” You will find that your open heart has been a gift the whole time” is giving me all the feels. <3

  100. Melissa says...

    “Be present. Feel your heart fully. You are not defined by your past experiences. You are not a victim. You don’t know the future no matter what anxiety tells you. Stay here, in this moment. This moment, the present is all that matters. “

    • Ali says...

      “You don’t know the future no matter what anxiety tells you”
      Thank you, my present self so needed to hear that today xx

  101. Karina says...

    I am so much more confident and happy now then I was in my twenties. I would tell myself to relax a little and have more fun then. To worry less about what others think. To be a bit wilder and do the things you were too scared or embarrassed to do.
    I wouldn’t change anything, I would just live a bit more. Life is too precious to not be lived to the full x

    • Lee says...

      Yes! Every word of this is what I would tell my younger self!

    • Lee says...

      Yes to every word of this. I wish I had a time machine to tell my younger self this.

  102. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s ok. You could be the most delicious cake in the world and someone will come along who just doesn’t like cake.

  103. Gill F. says...

    Show up and try, even if you don’t always succeed.
    Date and befriend people that like animals.
    Kindness is free.
    Work won’t always be fun but if you like it even the bad days are worth something.
    Don’t be scared of your feelings.
    Get a cat (or two).
    Learn to enjoy your own company. Go on solo dates.
    Never stop learning.
    Follow your own path. Haters gonna hate.
    It’s never too cold for icecream.
    Call your mom. She misses you.

  104. Meg says...

    If you want a career AND child(ren) in your lifetime, try to get that career established and build a reputation and contacts in your field BEFORE you become a parent. It’s easier to go down to part-time/ease off the pedal/become a consultant (if that’s what you’d like to do in parenthood) when you have a strong career in place. In other words, have fun in your 20’s – but also get focused and knuckle down! (Or if you’re like me and don’t find your calling until you’re up in the crucible of motherhood, give yourself some grace – it’ll work out!)

  105. Haylee says...

    The only person ever worth impressing–by which you will feel joy, awe, and increased resilience after every overcome challenge (or respect and humility for your frailty and human-ness and “just figuring it out”-ness)–is yourself. So give your brain and your heart a little rest and agonize a little less, eh?

    • Charlotte says...

      “The only person ever worth impressing … is yourself” – I love it!

  106. Janine says...

    Study abroad! If you have the opportunity, take it. When you get older, it becomes more difficult to just pick up and go overseas for a while.

  107. Monica says...

    This post was just what I needed today. Thank you for all the wise words.

  108. Maggie says...

    “The thing that comes most easily to you is probably also your superpower.“

    Man I needed to hear that today and isn’t it just so true! Love this post.

  109. Etsy says...

    Friendships come and go and it’s alright. Don’t beat yourself up about a lost friendship. Move on and make new friends.

    • Kylie says...

      Needed to hear this. Thank you.

  110. BW says...

    Listen to your gut, always.

    Your feelings matter and they are valid.

    You don’t have to hang with the “cool kids” or act and dress how they do.

    Stress less.

    Stop being so hard on yourself for looks and weight. You are beautiful!

  111. Emily says...

    Pain is not to be avoided at all costs. Pain has something to teach and something to give. You vibrant, young thing, there are worthier things to scream against. You’ll end up being a better person once you stop clawing to get out of a tough time and allow yourself to see what is grown there, curled up in the belly of darkness. And ignore the heavy blanket that well intentioned others will lay on you, saying “You were saved for a reason” and “I’m praying and once you’re through this…” Ignore the idea that this life only has value once things are tied up in a neat bow. Ignore the idea that your value comes from getting someone else’s idea of a ‘miracle’

    • Deidre says...

      Beautiful
      Thank you

    • Andreea says...

      This is beautiful :)

  112. Hindsight is 20/20 says...

    I would remind myself not to fall into the trap that so many young women seem to succumb to, which is to pass up opportunities that might require a stretch of your skills or confidence or knowledge because you think you’re not good enough or smart enough or just *enough* to meet the challenge. If you only ever accept the roles you’re already qualified for, you’ll never grow.

    • Sequoia says...

      “If you only ever accept the roles you’re already qualified for, you’ll never grow.”

      Ugh I needed to hear this when I was younger and if I’m being honest still need that reminder today! Thanks for sharing!

  113. Meta Lins says...

    I imagine reaching through time to comfort my younger self during rough times when I felt scared and alone. It brings me solace in the present, knowing that my older, wiser self is similarly caring for me.

    • Deidre says...

      Thank you so much for this.

    • Jessica says...

      Tears! This is so beautiful

    • Yulia says...

      Me too. I feel such tenderness for my younger self, and it reminds me I am worthy of tenderness now too. To my future self I am still navigating waters that are behind her.

  114. Candy says...

    Hug your Mom and Grandmother. They leave sooner than you think.

  115. Karen says...

    Be kind to yourself.

    Also, who cares about appearances. That may be a hard one to internalize until you actually *ARE* older. But really – size 6 or 14, who cares!

  116. Katherine says...

    If the person you’re dating won’t give of himself the way you’re giving yourself to him but you convince yourself he has potential and “something is better than nothing,” you’re wrong. The little something he’s giving you, the sneaking around and not committing, is selfish, manipulative, and trouble, and nothing is certainly better than all that. Even if he was the first love of your life, there’ll be other loves and you can kiss that boy goodbye because you’re worth more and deserve better.

  117. Cindy says...

    When you have to make a life decision, try to go toward something you want–don’t choose it to get away from something you’re afraid of.

    • M says...

      Cindy I don’t know who you are but thank you! I have been staring down so many decisions recently, and I have let myself be consumed by the weight of potentially making the wrong decision or even ending up in a worse place than I am now. Thank you for reminding me I can choose to go towards something I want….

  118. Meg says...

    Sex is not love. Not even close.

  119. hali says...

    For the love of all things balanced, elated, and sane, EXERCISE! Not for anyone else, just for your poor nerves!

    • Yasmine says...

      Love this!

  120. Michaela says...

    Show up even when it is hard: My beloved aunt was dying and instead of calling her back or flying to be by her side, I avoided her because I was scared of how much I might break. Little did I know. She would never come back. And my heart would break like a thin glass thrown against tile floor.

    • Elizabeth says...

      I did this with someone I loved who was dying and it is my single biggest regret. It was easier to ignore than to wade into the waters of grief. Little did I know that the waves would reach me regardless of where I was standing.

      The only silver lining is that I have only ever done that once. Now, I know enough to cobble a life jacket together and throw myself head first into the ocean of everything that surrounds grief and death. It is always worth it to walk someone you love out of this life.

  121. Lynn says...

    I would have myself read The Four Agreements a lot earlier. Maybe it “came to me” when I was ready for it, but I don’t think I believe that.

    Also, ever since watching a Swissmiss video I’ve been contemplating my superpower. Thank you, Uli, for the direction!

    • Olivia says...

      this book has changed my life !!! i recommend it to some many friends :)

  122. C. says...

    do not use credit cards

  123. Alex says...

    Oh man, I would say that, Nobody else has it figured out, they’ve all just gotten good at faking it. We’re all just muddling through the best we can.

    The older I’ve gotten I have come to realize that there’s no point at which you have it figured out. Life always changes and is constantly throwing curve balls at you, so don’t be so hard on yourself.

  124. oh i love this/wrote about it here: https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/2019/02/0028-i-am.html
    mine: don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. chase your dreams kindly, but fiercely and fearlessly. bras suck and you are lucky you don’t need them. in that vein, so does shaving and waxing so stop doing something just because society has made you believe you need to. there is only one you and that is your superpower. and above all: your life is what you make it.
    cant wait to read the comments!

  125. Jessica says...

    Be gentle. Life can be so sharp, so harsh. Being human—a maturing human, in particular—means facing the rough crags of pain, conflict, and exasperation. Don’t harden in response to your interactions with life, these reminders that you’re still living. Be gentle—soft and cool like the flip side of the pillow. To others and to yourself.

  126. Denise says...

    Great advice from everyone. What I know now and wish I’d known in my younger years is that I don’t have to dress for anyone else’s gaze. I can dress how I want for myself alone.

  127. Jessica says...

    Be gentle. Life can be so sharp, so harsh. Being human—a maturing human, in particular—means facing the rough crags of pain, conflict, and exasperation. Don’t harden in response to your interactions with life, these reminders that you’re still living. Be gentle—soft and cool like the slip side of the pillow. To others and to yourself.

  128. You will end up being proud of yourself for how you handle failures — not only for your successes. Be aggressively, annoyingly hopeful and willing to make a badass new life from ashes.

  129. Marlena says...

    I would tell my younger self to keep that fire lit in her belly and to never feel ashamed for taking the roads less traveled – the roads that people will judge her mercilessly for, like young motherhood, skipping college, and an unconventional love affair. Because, those roads end up being AWESOME and fun and crazy and wonderful and difficult and we end up being pretty rad as a result. :)

  130. I really like all of these (and the comments)! …for me, seems like the common thread is really just about giving yourself a break!

    My dad – who hates giving ‘advice’ – often inadvertently gives me the best advice (I wrote about it here, in case it’s of interest: https://themumandthemom.com/2018/06/05/advice-from-my-dad-that-you-needed-to-hear/ ) – mostly, via his commitment to removing the weight of expectation. Without that; much like removing guilt from our day-to-day, suddenly everything is a little lighter. So I think that would be my main take home from my younger self. Don’t worry about the detail, the big picture will work itself out!

  131. Ashley says...

    Love these! I would tell myself that progress sometimes happens slowly and sometimes doesn’t take a linear path. Stay the course and don’t lose heart when things don’t happen overnight.

  132. Sarah Faye says...

    Just because your parents did a decent job of raising you, doesn’t mean that every piece of advice they dispense is required reading for you. They raised you to be smart and creative. Trust yourself to do the right things for you. Trust yourself to fail and find out on your own.

  133. mamabird says...

    Treasure your family. You have no idea how long you’ll get to keep them,

    • Karina says...

      This is so true. My mum died 5 years ago and not a day has past that I didn’t think of her. There is so much I want to tell her, so much I want to ask her. It has made me appreciate and love my dad so much more.

  134. Anna says...

    You don’t need to dislike someone just because they dislike you.

    Sometimes you meet people that you really wish you could be friends with, that possess some characteristic that you admire, someone that maybe you think is just really damn cool. And for whatever reason, you’re not their cup of tea. As long as they aren’t mean to you, there’s no need to change your opinion of them. You can still think they’re freakin’ cool! You don’t need to change how YOU feel because of what THEY feel.

    Maybe this sounds like weird advice, but as someone who spends too much time and energy thinking about what people think of me, this little mantra has freed up some mental/emotional space, to have a little peace with this kind of specific rejection, to just let one more little thing be…

    • This is SO hard. And at 34 years old, I really needed to read it! Thank you.

    • celeste says...

      Love it!

    • janee says...

      This is my attitude towards men who haven’t loved me back – it’s saved me from a lifetime of unrequited love and kept my heart juicy and grateful instead of shrunken and bitter. It’s acceptance of what cannot be changed.

  135. Kate says...

    Don’t worry about other people will think when you make decisions in your life. Other people notice you for maybe 30 seconds and then they go right back to thinking about themselves!

  136. Meghan says...

    This advice is so wise. I am grateful for all my mistakes but one— Wear Sunscreen, young Meghan!! On your hands, too!

  137. Caitlin says...

    When you think/say “I’m just an anxious person…” NO YOU AREN’T! You’re experiencing anxiety, and it takes work to manage it, but it is manageable. You don’t have to live in a state of constant panic and worry! You will love and benefit from therapy.

    • B says...

      I needed this today. Thanks :)

  138. Emily says...

    Try not to beat yourself up about the decisions you made as a young person. Cut that younger self some slack!

    • Maywyn says...

      Love your very wise words!

  139. Nicole says...

    Your success is not tied to self-loathing. Love yourself, trust yourself, and be kind to yourself.

    • Auste says...

      THIS.

  140. Trudy says...

    Be kind to yourself. We teach our children to be kind to others; we even enshrine it in the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I love the Golden Rule, but I think it has an unspoken corollary, “Do unto yourself as you would do to others.”

    Maybe I need this other version of the Golden Rule because I am a perfectionist, from a long line of perfectionists. It has propelled me far in my life, but it also makes me too harsh on myself and, I am embarrassed to say, on my loved ones. So I am consciously moving away from it, and moving toward “Good enough.” When I allow myself to accept “Good Enough,” I let go of pushing for “Perfect,” and that is an act of kindness for myself and for my loved ones.

    • Christine says...

      LOVE this!

  141. Laura says...

    Pain is your body and your soul telling you something. Not “you’re weak, it’s your own fault, ignore it, persist”. But – stop. Rest. Get help. And getting help is scary, you have to aknowledge something is wrong and there will be people telling you “no, there isn’t”. Ignore those judgements, only you know how you feel. And deep down you know what you need. Take care of your needs,learn to stand up for them. Give yourself time, air, sunshine to heal. It will all get better.

  142. HB says...

    me to my younger self: “Chill the fuck out and listen to your mother.”

    • hali says...

      For real though, I’m still telling myself this daily.

  143. Ashley F. says...

    No tanning beds EVERRRRR.

    • VC says...

      THIS!

    • Lucy says...

      OMG, I wish my college self was listening!

    • Kalista Campbell says...

      Haahahah I’d also like to add “Wear sunscreen.”

      I grew up in Australia and the sun is FIERCE.

    • Sara Bernal says...

      Don’t date the guy you aren’t compatible with just because you have a quarter life crisis and you are overwhelmed. The right guy will come and he will be so.much.better.

  144. Nari Ferderer says...

    I was incredibly shy and reserved growing up…well into my late 20’s. I would tell my younger self to have a say-yes attitude towards life and new experiences. That failures can lead to growth and to not let the “what-ifs” be the determining factor for what I do or don’t do.

  145. ls says...

    I would tell my younger self (or any young person, for that matter): You do not ever owe anyone an explanation for exiting a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. This applies to all situations, not matter how big or small. Even if you’re unable to articulate why it’s there, as soon as you become aware of that amorphous feeling of negativity in your gut, you are free to leave, and anyone who gives you a hard time about it does not deserve an explanation.

    • Melinda says...

      LOVE this comment.

    • jd says...

      YES!!!!

    • hali says...

      Some things just feel so good to read! Are you a therapist?! Pasting this to my desk for a little while…

    • Y says...

      1000%!

    • Emily says...

      So wonderful and smart. I’m going to remember to tell my daughters this repeatedly!

    • Melanie says...

      I just did this recently, and have not stopped second-guessing myself and wondering if I overreacted. THANK YOU for saying this!!

  146. Joanna says...

    “Start today. Any time you find yourself thinking, ‘I’ll start tomorrow,’ follow that up with, ‘I’ll start today.’ What are you waiting for? What are any of us waiting for? Start today, even if just in the smallest way. Start TODAY.

    • Sara Bernal says...

      This is me and the dishes

  147. Jx says...

    Jenny’s advice is spot on. When I was 21 and living in my first apartment, I wanted to throw a fancy cocktail party (secretly to impress my now-husband, who didn’t even show up!). I spent so much time meticulously crafting complicated apps that when the first guests arrived, I was a sweaty mess in flour- and butter-smeared loungewear. I should have just ordered pizza, since that’s what my friends probably wanted anyway!

  148. Ashley says...

    ” 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.”

    I really needed this today. Thank you for the wonderful advice and this lovely post.

  149. Emily R says...

    Make better decisions early on. Being almost 40, single and childless is not my idea of a good time.

    • Tiffanie says...

      I am almost 40, single and childless and I am Happy and flourishing. It can be a wonderful thing…:)

    • Maggie says...

      Hang in there, Emily!! It’ll be o.k.

    • Emily R says...

      Tiffanie, perhaps you missed where I said MY idea. Congratulations. I’m glad things are working out so well for you while I’m having a hard time hanging in there.

    • Meredith says...

      Ouch—be nice to your younger (and current!) self! I’m nearing 40 and single and I don’t think there’s anything I did or didn’t do that created this outcome, it just IS. I went ahead and had a baby on my own at 35, though, and it’s the best thing I ever did. If you’re unhappy because you’re childless, that’s in your power to try and change.