The Five Things I Would Tell My 20-Year-Old Self

Lately I’ve been thinking. Mostly because it’s the first time in a year and half that my mind is clear and my thought processes are firing again. I can actually do a few things at the same time and do them pretty well. In February, I started taking walks. It began as 30 minutes twice a week and mushroomed to daily walks that last 60-80 minutes, which gives me a lot of time to ruminate on stuff. I’ve got a backlog of thinking to catch up on!

On one of my epic walks, I was thinking back to when I was 20 and all the stupid things I thought and did. And I started composing this list of things I would tell my 20-year-old self. Some of it’s purely practical, some a bit deep. But I really wished I knew this back then.

  1. Take care of your teeth. When you’re thirty, you’ll need 2 root canals and a gum scaling. I know you hate flossing, but do it. Daily. Even when you hurt your back, and life is utterly miserable, make sure you brush twice a day. And use mouthwash. Your 40-year-old self thanks you.
  2. Most people leave, but you will never correctly guess who will stay. The people that you’d trust your life to at 20, most of them will leave. Some gradually, some quickly. But most won’t be around in ten years. The ones you don’t expect to stay, they will. And they will keep coming back to you. Treasure them and let the rest go.
  3. When someone shows you who they are believe them. The guys that lie and cheat—that’s who they are liars and cheaters. You cannot reform them. You cannot love them enough to make them love you. It won’t happen. I’m sorry, dear, but you just need to cut the cord and move on. Third chances are for idiots. Same with friends who betray you—frenemies are only cool in movies.
  4. Your dreams will change. And you have to find a way to adapt to a complete shift in your motivations and goals. You may feel like you are not the same person. You aren’t. And sometimes what you flee from is what you will return to in later years. Accept it and embrace change.
  5. You’ve only got this one life. Make the moments count. Live the life you want and make sure you spend your time in pursuit of your passions and your interests whatever they turn out to be.


When you look back on your life, is there any advice you wish you could give your twenty-year-old self?

This entry was posted in illness, introspection, Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Five Things I Would Tell My 20-Year-Old Self

  1. I agree with all of your thoughts, Kourtney. Of course, after what I’ve experienced lately with my vertical root fracture in a lower molar, sometimes even taking excellent care of your teeth can leave you with a big hole. 🙁
    The one thing I’d tell my younger self is to not wish your life away looking forward to things in the future. The years roll by fast and the future becomes the present all to quickly.

    • Kourtney says:

      Thanks, Jill! I’m sorry to hear that despite your best efforts, you’ve had these issues with your teeth. Grr. I had bouts of back injury where I wasn’t nearly as diligent as I should have been with my teeth. Very good advice. 🙂

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Good advice we all could have used at one point or another. I think I would tell my younger self to trust her gut more. I wasn’t always very good at that. I try to listen to it more now.

  3. davidprosser says:

    Mostly I’d tell myself that 67 is the same as 20 but slower and with more thought in advance instead of spur of the moment. Probably better suited to the change of pace.
    Keep well Kourtney
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  4. Mayumi-H says:

    Oh, my gosh, the flossing! Yes, a small thing but so valuable. I wish I’d done that more regularly as a kid/20-year-old, too!

    This is a great list, Kourtney, full of points that I think everyone can relate to, and keep revisiting over the years. You were probably a better person than I was at that age, but one thing I’d make sure to tell my 20-year-old self: “There is no being Number One at life. Relax, be yourself, and let other people be themselves, too.”

    • Kourtney says:

      Right? I wish the dentist would have explained why flossing mattered. I needed to know the why to motivate me to do it. 😉 Thanks! I got inspired on my walk and composed it in my head. That’s a great piece of advice. 🙂

  5. Lori says:

    I’m struggling with getting a comment posted here. They disappear when I hit send. I’ll try once more.

    These are great lessons for any 20-year-old. I could’ve used these very same ones. I might also add something about being self-confident, and not to take other people’s negative criticism/judgments so deeply to heart. People see through the eyes of their own pain. I’d also tell her that she doesn’t need to show she’s tough by fighting every single battle that comes her way, but to just choose the most important few.

    Your #4 really hit home to me. It’s a powerful message that we may some day return to the very things we tried to escape. Wherever you go, there you are. Can’t escape yourself. I hope to write a “coming home” novel one day.

    BTW, 40 was my favorite age. I felt my best physically, mentally and spiritually at that age. I think we really come into our own by then.

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful lessons.

    • Kourtney says:

      Sorry there were issues with the commenting. Thanks for persevering! That’s a great one. I definitely cared too much about what others thought back then. And picking your battles instead of taking a stand on everything is a great one. I’m dealing with #4 myself right now. A good friend told me it’s hard to realize your ship is sailing off course. Then it’s even harder to right it. A coming home novel sounds really cool.

      I feel like 40 may be a good age for me. I’m finally comfy in my own skin. Feels like it took forever to get here. 🙂

      Aw thanks for stopping by and sharing your insight!

  6. Such wise advice! Your 20-year-old self is lucky to have you as a mentor :-). I think the one thing I would say to my 20-year-old self is the the thing I’m still working on: Don’t take yourself–and everything else–so seriously! Lighten up. Learn to laugh more.

    • Kourtney says:

      Aw thank you! I so wish I could send this to her via email. 🙂 That’s a great one. Laughing is the best way to get through life’s hurdles.

Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?