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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?