When I wasn’t looking, year 33 crept up on me, and with a husband pushing 40, we aren’t as young as we used to be. I’m not as wise as I hope to be someday, but I am thankful that I have learned a thing or two in the last decade of life. It’s an interesting thing about wisdom, that you typically have to go through the years to gain it. I suppose it’s sort of a prize for enduring the trials of life.
I have a lot to learn, but if I could travel in time, I would jump in the time machine right now to go back and tell these 10 things to 20-something me.
1 Turn off that TV
The time you spend watching TV will never come back to you. When you are a young mother one day dreaming of two hours in a row of truly free time, you will be baffled thinking of the time you clocked in front of that TV as a younger person, when you could have been doing Anything. You. Want. I know you’re tired and stressed out from working all day, but just turn it off. Read instead. Exercise. Make something. Volunteer. Feed your brain, girl. Save $100 a month, and cancel the cable. HGTV will go on without you.
One day, you’re going to have so little time to yourself to do whatever you want to do that you will be frustrated by the time it takes to run up and down the steps during nap time, because it’s eating away at your precious 90 minutes to get something done. Live it up and make the most of your time!
2 Eat your vegetables
That young girl metabolism might get you to the altar, but it’s not going to get you through your thirties. Make good habits, and make your body feel good. Say no to needing to diet! You have so much control over the way your body feels and your own health. Treat it right.
If you learn how to make all the veggies and make them taste good for yourself, it will be second nature to make them for your family, too. And you’re going to want your kid to eat his vegetables.
3 Travel all the places
Go, go, go. Young and free, with a steady income, is quite a position to be thankful for. Here’s one thing I like to think you did pretty well. You’ve been to Europe and the Caribbean and across the United States. You’ve spent some really beautiful times camping in the mid-atlantic forests. But there is so much more, and you should go see as much as you can. Take a trip by yourself, more than once. Later is never guaranteed; the time is now.
4 Don’t stop reading
Just because you finished from college doesn’t mean you should stop reading now. There is so much more to learn and so many more places your imagination can take you to explore in books. Go to your local library and borrow some books. Like, more than once.
5 Invest in your faith
Every day is an opportunity to grow in your faith and learn more about your God. Life is just going to get harder and more complicated as the years add up, and you are going to need all the strength you can get by building your faith now. Of course it is never too late to dig in every day to reading your Bible and spending time in prayer. But when you are 31 and struggling to stay awake, up with your baby all night long and dragging the next day waiting for your next chance to close your eyes, you are going to want those Bible verses on memory recall. You’re going to need them.
6 Make new friends
Remember that song you learned a long time ago in Girl Scouts… “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Find some ladies who you can really connect with now. It can be hard to let go of friendships from your youth, but not all of those relationships are necessarily growing with you.
Your time is so limited, find your people who can build you up now and support you in your current life. You need that network now, and you are going to need it even more later. You’re going to need friends who live in your neighborhood. There is just something about spending time with people in person, often, that fuels a supportive and in-the-know relationship like long-distance cannot do. Don’t be afraid to step out and make new friends.
7 Don’t get stuck in your job
Search for something you can do that you can be happy about. Maybe your job won’t exactly “make you happy,” but if you aren’t saving lives at your job, you should not be coming home in a fit of stress. If your job starts out as something you enjoy but then turns into something that makes you sad–or mad–find something else. Sure, you will have to take a chance at something that you don’t know, and it might not even turn out to be better. But you’re going nowhere if you stick with what you already know and you know you don’t like it. Do not be afraid.
8 Don’t think your first love is your best love
They say your first love is unique, and you’ll never have that love again. Well, I see your future, and I see that you should be thankful for what you learned about love in your youth, and then you should leave that love behind. First love is first, but it is not all the love for you. Don’t worry that you will never find that love again.
There is a different love out there for you, and it’s called grown-man-who-knows-who-he-is-and-knows-how-to-love-a-woman love. And that love is going to be night and day better for you. It’s grown up and it can last a lifetime, not just until prom. Hello! Look ahead, girl.
9 Having a newborn is the hardest thing and they aren’t going to tell you about it
I don’t know for sure why it is the secret of the universe, but ladies should start speaking up and tell their young friends what’s up. I guess some new moms have a hearts and roses time in postpartum newborn baby land, and the other moms maybe just forget the details due to legitimate sleep deprivation.
But older you wants to warn young you that being a new mom is going to be so hard! Your emotions will betray you, and once you combine that with far less than adequate sleep, you will be a bit of a stranger to yourself. You will love and protect your baby with a fierceness you didn’t know existed. Motherhood is coming for you, and you will simultaneously cherish it and be so very challenged by it. (It’s worth it.)
10 You can’t be anything you want to be, and that’s ok
It’s the great white lie of the high school guidance counselor. I see what they are going for, but the message is wrong. You cannot be anything you want to be. Truth is, the options are limited. When it comes down to it, if you want to be a wealthy heiress who has five kids and travels to Bali six times a year, listen, you can’t be that. If you want to be a doctor and you can’t pass the classes, you can’t be that. If you want to be the boss and you can’t get the promotion, you’re going to have to move on somewhere else.
You can’t be anything you want to be, but you can be a better you every day. You can change. You can learn. You can love more. You can do more. You can see more. You can try anything you want. You can ask for anything you want. You can work at anything you want. You can be the best you that you were created to be. You can work on that every day, and you should.
What lessons have you learned in life that you would you tell a younger you?