10 Pieces Of Advice I Would Give To My Younger Self

Breaking down the things I wish I knew about adulthood when I was a teenager
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We've all wished that we could go back in time and warn our younger selves about what the future brings. I was thinking about this the other day while I was sitting on the beach, and I ended up with a list of the top ten things I would go back and tell myself if I had the opportunity. 

I want to make it clear that this list is specifically catered to me and my experiences, and it is not a list of advice that I would give to everyone. It's more of an open letter to myself. Depending on your story, your advice for yourself might look a little different. However, if you find something on my list that you think you want to live by, then all the better!

Here are the 10 things I wish I knew about adulthood when I was a teenager.

1. Don't romanticize the future so much

romanticizing the future
Image Source: WHYY

As a kid, all I ever wanted was to be a teenager. I wanted the knowledge, experiences, and respect that came with being a little older. Let's be real, no one takes a kid seriously, and the older you get, the more freedom you have. I remember being in elementary school daydreaming about the day I'd go to high school. 

Fast forward to my high school days, when I quickly realized it wasn't what the books and movies had advertised. Once the woes of being a teenager set in, I began dreaming about the day I would go off to college. I was tired of being told what to do and when to do it, and going off to college meant I would finally have full control over my life. 

Or so I thought. College showed me that once you're out here on your own, that's when things start getting a little out of hand. I realized that I didn't actually have control over my life because unexpected things are always happening.

Rather, I had full control over my decisions, and that wasn't always a good thing. Who knew that if you didn't have your mom around to tell you not to eat the whole box of Cosmic Brownies, you would gain 15 pounds? I had to learn the hard way.

Not to mention, people tend to hype up the partying part of college and downplay how soul-sucking the academic part can be. About halfway through college my classes really started kicking my butt, and even though I was having fun on the weekends, I started counting the days until graduation. Ah, to be a full-fledged adult with no homework and only my job to worry about. It seemed like a dream.

I can say from my current position that it's not a dream, it's reality and you make the best of it. When I was younger I was always looking to jump up to the next step thinking the grass was greener on the other side, when really it was just different grass with different problems. The grass might have been greener, but it was patchy with occasional weeds. One of the most important lessons I'm learning is to be happy that I still have grass in the first place.

Some might think that this is synonymous with "enjoy the present moment," but that's not what I'm saying. I know the younger me had her own issues that prevented her from enjoying that moment. What I would tell her is that things are never going to be perfect, so stop thinking that once you get to the next step, everything is just going to fall into place. Getting older isn't the end-all-be-all solution.

Get to the next step, celebrate your success, and then adjust your mindset to focus more on the good things than the bad whenever possible!

2. Life is too short to care about what other people think

caring about what others think
Image Source: HuffPost Canada

I know this one would be tough for my younger self to hear because it's easier said than done. As a matter of fact, I'm sure I heard this many times when I was younger and thought that very thing. I grew up always caring what people thought, to the point of having severe social anxiety. I would constantly worry about how my voice sounded, how I came off, how I was walking, and, of course, what others thought of my body.

Looking back, I can say that the fear of being judged prevented me from seeking opportunities that could have changed my life for the better. Additionally, attributing my worth to others' opinions of me negatively affected my mental health for years. It was only after years of worrying that I realized I had to do something about it. This piece of advice is the type that doesn't really set in until later in life. 

At some point, I realized we only have a limited amount of time to do things and letting the thoughts of a few people (out of billions!) stop me from doing any one of those things was absurd. The only person's thoughts you have to actually hear and live with are yours, so those are the ones that truly matter. At the end of the day, you have to do what's best for you regardless of what others are thinking or saying.

3. Don't compare yourself to others

comparing yourself to others
Image Source: Tiny Buddha

Again, easier said than done. Especially considering I spent most of my teenage years being influenced by social media. My insecurities came from seeing what others had that I didn't.

You are your own person with your own timeline. You have your own purpose and your own process. What worked for someone else might not work for you. What didn't work for someone else might work for you! Just focus on yourself, stay in your lane, and view the accomplishments of others as motivation to work harder for your own goals.

It takes a long time to realize it, but your only real competition is who you were yesterday. What can you do today that will put you in a better place than you were before? What can you do tomorrow to build on that? Put all of your focus on YOU.

4. Embrace change

change ahead sign
Image Source: Ellenhorn

You're going to change. A lot. You may think you know how your life is going to go. You don't. I know you already have it all mapped out: where you'll go to college and what you'll major in, the job you'll have, the exact ages that you will be when key moments in your life happen. Spoiler alert: You change your mind about all of it. 

You're going to learn a lot about yourself over the next 10 years. Every time you think you have yourself figured out, something is going to happen that makes you redefine yourself. That being said, don't cling so tightly to the way things are. I know you're a creature of habit and change sends you into panic mode, but you're also very adaptable. You adjust quickly, and you can handle it.

Things have to change in order for you to move forward!

5. Diversify your skillset

jill of all trades
Image Source: Business Woman Media

Since things are always changing, it doesn't make sense to put all your eggs in one basket. It's great that you're really good at a few things, but being good at a lot of things will open the door for more opportunities. You don't want to feel backed into a corner.

Money may be tight, but knowledge is power. You can use the internet (or a library) to learn about a particular skill and use the items you already have at your disposal to practice with until you can get what you need. If you don't have any of the necessary equipment, then pick a different skill! Just do whatever you can to make yourself as well-rounded as possible.

6. Network, even if you don't want to

Image Source: Money

Trust me, I know you don't want to. However, as time goes on you're going to realize that you wouldn't be where you are without the help of a few people in positions of power who put in a good word for you. Some people don't want to admit it, but connections will get you farther than qualifications ever will. 

Join those clubs and attend those seminars! Talk to people after meetings at work. Just get your name, story, and goals out there. You don't have to be best friends with everyone, just make sure you have acquaintances from all walks of life. You never know who might have an opportunity with your name on it. This leads into my next piece of advice:

7. Don't be afraid to ask for help

asking for help outstretched hand
Image Source: Everywoman

More often than not, the people in your inner circles are eager and willing to do what they can to help you advance. However, they aren't always going to offer it automatically. It might be hard, but sometimes you have to reach out and let the people around you know that you need their guidance.

It's very difficult for someone who takes pride in being independent, but it's necessary. As much as you don't want to admit it, there are some things you cannot do yourself. Stop thinking that you are a nuisance for asking. Think of it like this: You get joy out of helping people, so it's safe to assume that they will feel the same when the roles are reversed.

8. Start putting money into savings as early as possible

saving money
Image Source: SSIR

Everyone tells you this already as a teenager, and you think you're too young to start caring about it.

Big mistake. Start saving as early as possible. The earlier the better. Calculate a reasonable percentage to take out of your paychecks — something that you can afford to cough up every month, it doesn't have to be huge — and consistently put it aside every single month. 

Things like a car, a house, and a retirement fund might sound like commitments you can put off until later. In reality, they are, but you make things a lot harder for your future self (aka me) by skipping on saving early on when you have more extra cash. What do you think you need more, clothes that you'll grow out of in a few months, or cash for your future college textbooks?

It's hard to prioritize something that isn't an immediate need, and at the time, clothes may be the need. However, you don't have to spend all the money on clothes. Put a few items back and save enough to buy half a textbook.

9. Put your happiness first

chasing happiness
Image Source: The Guardian

It's okay to be considerate and accommodating, but not to the point where you are the only one making sacrifices. You've already spent a lot of time suffering in silence to make other people happy, don't let it develop into a habit. I know you want to assume the best of people, but you're going to learn that people take advantage of a good heart. Stop putting so much focus on how your actions are making others feel, and worry more about yourself.

You are the only person whose emotions you have to live with 24/7. You are doing yourself a disservice by not making sure things are okay within before trying to extend yourself to others. Say no when you don't want to do something. Use a sick day or PTO to take a mental health day off from work when you need it. Eat that chocolate bar. Do whatever it takes to give yourself the boost you need.

10. No one has it "figured out"

figuring it out
Image Source: Pexels

We all dream of the day we will have our stuff together. Or we might look at someone we know and say "Wow, they have it all figured out." News flash, it's a hoax. No one has it all figured out, and no one ever will.

You eventually realize that the people who have what you want always want something else. After growing up and seeing that your parents don't seem to have a perfect grip on everything either, you realize there isn't an age when you miraculously just figure it out. In reality, no one has life completely figured out, but we power through as best as we can with the resources we have.

Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to have everything all put together and learn to love the mess.

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Writer, blogger, and content creator from Sunny San Diego. When she isn’t writing, you can find her exploring, eating, and watching Netflix.

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