If you had a chance to go back in time and give your teenage self some advice, what would it be? This is a question Matt and I got to talking about recently, over a few glasses of wine… of course. Big discussions like these usually stem from a glass of wine or two.
It’s a pretty great question and it would be an amazing opportunity if you ever got the chance to do it. Seriously, would someone at Google just invent time travel already so I can tell my teenage self to enjoy eating as much junk food as I can, before I get an office job and it all starts to catch up with me. Man, if I could go back I would definitely savour those Bubble-O-Bills and eat all the push-pops I could carry. Eat more hot chips and burgers while you can. EAT THEM ALL, you skinny idiot!
At this point in my life I’ve learned a heck of a lot thanks to all the stupid things I did when I was younger, so this definitely isn’t an exercise in regret or wishing I could change the past. Every little thing that happened, good and bad, was for a reason and has led me to be exactly where and who I am right now. Which I’m pretty freaking happy with!
Thinking about the advice I’d give my teenage self is a tricky thing. I would want to impart something really important that isn’t a ‘Don’t do this’ or ‘Don’t say that’ kinda thing. Knowing me I’d just scoff at an all out bossy demand or rule from old me. I’d get a pretty serious attitude about it and wonder who the heck I thought I was, telling me what to do with my life…. cos, that’s not confusing at all. Is it even possible to rebel against yourself?
One of the most important things I think I could tell myself would be: trust it will all work out exactly as it is supposed to. I’d love to remove the stress and worry I felt when I was younger, to give myself a sense of calm and peace that let me know everything in life was going to work out just fine. The desire and need to succeed and get all those life boxes checked off can be so big and we have to make decisions so young, like what to study at University for example. But the thing is, even if we get those decisions wrong, it doesn’t really matter because we have a lifetime to work it out.
I’d love to sit myself down and tell myself just to chill the heck out. Take things easy and slow down, don’t be in such a rush to achieve everything and do everything. We have this lifetime and the next and the next to learn the lessons we need to learn and experience all the wonderful things in life. There’s no failure if you don’t get everything right this time around, just make decisions from your heart and it will all be okay.
It would also be lovely to give myself some serious advice around making better fashion choices: stay AWAY from the wedge flip-flops and greasy strands of hair hanging over your face. I’d like to encourage myself to go easy on the make-up and not put obscene amounts of glitter and hair mascara through my blonde hair too.
If I could, I’d take a second to reassure myself that I have a future ahead of me that is beautiful and wonderful, that I’ll meet a man and fall in love and have wonderful friends who love and appreciate me for exactly who I am. That would be the best thing. Just a stolen moment to say, “Hey, you’re pretty awesome right now and in the future too and heaps of people love you for being you so just do your thang!”
At school I really struggled with maths and parts of science, anything that was numbers related or something we couldn’t learn hands-on. It would be great to be able to tell myself that just because I am struggling with being taught those things at school doesn’t mean I’m stupid. It just means I don’t learn the way they’re teaching it to me because my brain doesn’t work that way and that’s totally cool! Everyone learns in different ways and the things I’m good at, creative subjects like english and art, will be the things that create a career for me in the future.
When you’re little all you want to do is fit in and you wish away all the unique things that make you who you are. I’d reassure myself that one day those things will be the most wonderful and interesting things about me. It’s okay to be really, really weird and it’s perfectly normal to be an introvert and not want to talk to people. There will come a time when those will be the defining factors for the amazing friends you make, cos they’ll be really weird introverts as well (especially the man you end up marrying… he’s really weird). I’d reassure myself that I’ll get to share all my weird, crazy thoughts with people who actually read them and feel good knowing someone else is weird too!
The last thing I’d want to say is that anything is possible. Don’t be limited by what a career councillor, friends, family or even a television show depicts. You can be and do whatever you want in this lifetime and there are absolutely NO rules around what you’re capable of doing or what you deserve in life. You can have whatever you like, it’s only bound by your imagination and determination.
Having the opportunity to pop back in time and say all of this to ‘little you’ would be incredible. But I guess the coolest thing is that I know all of this now anyway. Every step I took and every stupid or wonderful thing that happened has led me here and I’d never have this perspective and clarity if I didn’t follow that exact path.
It’s great to look back in time and reflect on things that have happened so you can learn the lessons you need to and become a less shitty person (technical, yes?) But at the end of the day I don’t regret my choices and I don’t feel bad or guilty about the things that shaped me. You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it to guide your future.
So, maybe this idea of telling your teenage self something important isn’t about influencing who you were so you could avoid the mistakes you made. Maybe it’s about taking the time to reflect on who you’ve become and all the crap you went through, so you can pick out the things you’ve learned and keep them close to your heart for the next 10 years. You are a younger version of yourself right now and you’re taking the time to reflect on and learn all these things to help future you. How thoughtful!
What advice would you give your teenage self? What do you think you’d love to tell that little version of you and what would most benefit them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook here.