Only a decade yet a world apart, I have quite a list of advice to give to my younger 20-something self. I'll never know how different my life would be now if I'd had this information at a younger age. Perhaps sharing it will do good for others.
- There is no end to the rainbow. In my early twenties going to school and working an entry level job, I dreamed that only one day I would make $30K annually and then I would be happy. Guess, what? I don’t even remember reaching that milestone. Because by then, my expenses were higher, I’d moved to a nicer area, had to buy a car, inflation and gas prices went through the roof. Once you solve the problems that clutter your mind right now, different problems will appear. Appreciate what you have at every stage in life.
- The jobs you take define your career trajectory way more than the degree on your diploma. Think about it. You are only in college for four or five (or six) years but you will be working in a career (or two or ten) for decades. Where you work, who you work for and what you do at work matter - so choose carefully. And don’t work for a jerk; life is way too short.
- Being able to take care of yourself is the most important superpower you have. Get your education and grow your talents. If you want to take years off to raise your children and can afford to do so, by all means do it. But do it because you want to, not because you have no choice. And have an exit plan if it turns out you need one.
- Marriage isn’t the end; it’s the beginning. Disney has created a disservice to young women by ending every story with “they lived happily ever after.” Happily ever after takes work, sacrifice and compromise. Decades later you may realize you’ve grown apart, weren’t a good match, or got married for the wrong reasons. You continually make decisions to work at it or to work to dissolve it.
- We live in a time when having children is a choice. Whether or not you choose to have children is a very personal decision. Don’t feel pressured or rushed. Make the decision that is right for you.
- Don’t put your children above your spouse. This tip is controversial. But if you married for life to a person that you love, your relationship can last 50+ years (if you are lucky). Your children will only be in your household for the first 20 or so years before they begin their adult lives (if you are lucky). Of course, never, ever sacrifice the well-being of your children but if you have a healthy union, cherish and nurture it - especially during the years when young children strain it.
- Take pictures of the people around you in addition to all those selfies. Record your trendy shoes, crazy hair and the buildings in your town. Later, they will make you smile and appreciate just how far you’ve come.
- Life is a work in progress. You may not know what you want when you are 25. Or 35. Or 55. That isn’t a failure. As long as you have made progress from one milestone to the next, you're golden.
I wonder what advice my 40-something self will have for me now? What advice do you have to add?