Thursday, November 19, 2009

Advice I would give my 20 year old self

If my mother had tried to tell me any of this stuff when I was 20 the thoughts in my head would have run a little like that episode from The Simpson’s where they’re showing everything from the dog’s perspective. It goes something like this “Blah...Blah...Blah sit, Blah...Blah...Blah...walk, Blah...Blah" …well you get the idea. The dog just hears the words that interest it , not the whole message.

At age 20 according to me my mother had been living since dinosaurs roamed the earth but still knew Nothing, while in my infinite wisdom I knew Everything. At 15 I was truly surprised when I saw her wedding pictures and she was wearing a bridal gown and tiara and not a loin cloth with a bone through her hair.

23 years later I realise she did know Everything. She knew all of this stuff then because she had experienced a fair whack of it. (Well some of it- not the divorce or break up bits because she’s been married to my Dad for almost 48 years ) On reflection it maybe was disappointing to her that both her kids were divorced by their late 20’s. Not that she adored either of our first husbands but that’s a whole new blog post.

If only I hadn’t rolled my eyes every time she spoke to me between ages 13 and 25 she might have felt safe enough to have shared her experiences and wisdom and saved me over 20 years of self learning and hard knocks.  Or maybe she felt that part of lifes journey is finding this stuff out for yourself. Whatever .

And in a similar fashion I wont share this with my daughter because she is really good at rolling her eyes (sometimes I’m truly worried they might roll right out of her head when I’m talking) and acting like I’ve been roaming the earth since just after dinosaurs became extinct. Apparently I'm so old I fart dust.

So these are all the things I wish I’d known at 20 …that I know now in my 40’s…

The guy you think broke your heart when you were 19 was a selfish pig, who will end up divorced, lonely and pathetic (he was at least two of those things when you were together anyway) In a few years he’ll look you up, trying to re-kindle the flame because you were always so forgiving and dependable and you’ll walk away wondering what you ever saw in him. Living a great life is always the best revenge.

Continue to use moisturizer every day whether you think you need it or not ( By the time your former best friend who isn’t using it enters her mid 30’s her face is going to look like a desiccated apple) Ditto with drinking lots of water.

Don’t be in a hurry to get married. Wait until you know who you are before you try to be half of a couple. Then make sure he knows who he is because you can waste a lot of time trying to glue someone back together that you had nothing to do with breaking. Marry someone you like and can be friends with. As horrifying as that sounds to you now in your romantic 20’s , by your mid thirties you’ll realise friends is better than bonk buddies since if you have any kids at all, you probably wont be having sex until they move out of home anyway. By the way - when they do move out of home they will be back-probably multiple times, and everytime they do they'll bring more mouths to feed.

Put away as much as you can afford from your pay packet every week for the next 5 years. It’ll save you years of paying off a mortgage in the long run and offer you so many more choices when you’re in your 40’s. And when you’re ready to settle down find a man who has done the same. Trust me on this.

Know when something is finished. That includes friendships, marriages, relationships, and jobs that are no longer fulfilling. You don’t have to get mad to walk away from something that isn’t working you just have to know when it’s time to leave. You can mourn the loss and still move on with your life.

You’re going to spend a lot of time at work over the next 40 or so years. Make sure you pick something you enjoy, at least most of the time. The corporate ladder is highly over rated. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a surgeon or a check out operator – so long as you’re happy doing it. Generally you should think of your job as something you do to earn money so you can have a life when you aren’t working.

Don’t over think things. Learn to relax and go with the flow. You can waste a lot of life over thinking stuff that doesn’t require a lot of thought. If you worry about looking silly, you’re going to miss a lot of fun and opportunities in life. Don’t say No too often. Saying Yes is the best way to experience life.

Stuff  that is important when you’re 20 wont matter at all when you’re 30. Stuff that mattered when you’re 30 probably wont have a lot of relevance when you’re 40 either. That's called growth.

Despite what people tell you there are some things in life that can’t be undone. Try not to do too many of them. You know what these things are because I've brought you up right.

There are so many things that don’t matter – a clean house, other people’s opinions of you, doing things because other people expect you to. Try to live a life that will be a tribute to you when you aren’t here any more, but most importantly will make you happy most of the time you are here .  When you finally go, nobody is going to etch “she kept a clean house and did everything to please others ” on your headstone. I've never seen it in a cemetery - not once.

"Someday" is not a word that should really be in your vocabulary. Someday is NOW because there may not be a someday. I have spent many somedays planning a trip to Europe. By the time I get there the leaning tower of Pisa will probably be horizontal .

Learn not to regret - if it's done there isn't much you an do about it. Learn from the mistake - don't repeat it and move on.

Above all live well, live a life you can be proud of and make sure you surround yourself with those you love.


inese said...

I just read your post for November 19 2009 and I loved it. Having a bad day and this just put it all into perspective.

Kirsten's Cooking said...

You, my friend, are wise! I think you've thought of everything here. I know your mom must be so proud of you, and you're living proof for your daughter. I know you've had a challenging road, but I'd say you've succeeded in coming out the better for it!

Great job on the post....and on life:)