As we grow older, we learn from the many experiences we go through in life. We learn how to handle more complex problems and people. We learn not to sweat the small stuff. We learn to value the things that actually matter and to discard the things that only weigh us down.
How wonderful it would be if we could go back in time to give our younger selves advice about life. To spare them from potential heartaches. To tell them that in 10, 15, or 20 years, they will just look back and laugh at being dumped the night before prom. The 22 Colors team came up with a list of advice we can all give our younger selves.
1. Never marry your first boyfriend/girlfriend.
There is a reason why a very small percentage of married couples met in high school or college. Harris Interactive surveyed 5,000 couples from September 2004 to August 2005 and found out that only 14% of them met in school (high school and college).
The reason for the small number is this: the most likely age demographic for someone to marry their high school sweetheart is in the 18-27 age group. However, people tend to marry late nowadays. After they finish college they either work or attend graduate school. It is more common for people to meet their spouses through common friends or at work.
Also, our priorities change as we grow older. We start liking different things, which means we also could start liking different people. Perhaps it’s better to reconnect with your first boyfriend/girlfriend when you’re a bit older. After you both have experienced more of the world.
2. Being alone is not the same as being lonely.
It’s good to know how to be alone. We can reflect about life and determine whether we like where we’re headed. There’s nothing but silence which will help us meditate about our life’s journey.
Sometimes we are happiest when we are alone. We don’t need another person to make us happy or to complete us. We are whole just as we are.
3. Study hard and finish college.
We’ve all gone through a rebellious phase where we all know better than anyone. Some of us have skipped a class or two or worse, have dropped out of school altogether.
If you have the means, go get a college education. A college degree says a lot about you, and it’s not just about your level of intelligence. I know, you might say, “But I could learn that from the internet.” It’s true. The internet offers a lot of information about a variety of things. Aside from feeding one’s cyberchondria, the internet is truly a wellspring of information, useful or otherwise.
However, one thing the internet can’t teach you that a college education can is the discipline it takes to finish the whole thing. It teaches you to become patient. It teaches you critical thinking. It sparks your curiosity and makes you hungry for more.
It teaches you how to be creative, not only with your art project but also with the way you solve life’s daily problems. It teaches you to interact with all kinds of people and how to live in a microcosm that is your university.
4. Rejection is a part of life.
So what if you’re boyfriend dumped you the night before prom? Or if a publishing house rejected your manuscript? Or if you didn’t get that job at the ad agency?
Rejection is a part of life. It helps us become better people. It makes us think if there are areas in our life that need improvement. Perhaps you need to attend writing workshops to hone your skills, or maybe you need to be more confident on your next job interview.
Whatever it is, each one of us can learn from being rejected. Also, maybe what we want now isn’t always what’s best for us.
5. Don’t measure yourself with someone else’s ruler.
Dr. Howard Gardner theorized that people have multiple intelligences namely:
- Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
- Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
- Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
- Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
- Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
- Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
- Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
- Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)
He believes that we all have these kinds of intelligence in us, with one or two being the most dominant. This implies that people are smart in different ways. If I were to compare myself with a mathematician, I would definitely be inferior when it comes to logical-mathematical intelligence. However, since I am a writer, my linguistic intelligence might be more enhanced than his.
Once we see ourselves as smart in different ways, then we’ll stop comparing our achievements to other people’s.
Another way of looking at it is this: people don’t always value the same things. To some, money is the ultimate measure of success, while to others it could be their children’s educational attainment. Some people might regard happiness and contentment as the two most important things in life. Comparing yourself to other people will only lead to heartache so best avoid it.
6. People don’t really change.
Yes, people grow up and mature. The ice cream flavor you liked as a kid might not be your cup of tea when you become older. However, people don’t really change fundamentally. Unless someone seeks professional help to adjust a personality disorder or a behavioral problem, then they will stay the same all throughout their lives.
A constant quitter will never wake up one day and find himself suddenly forging ahead despite the odds. Someone who cheats on a regular basis will not have an epiphany and magically stop cheating. A pathological liar will keep lying because that’s the only thing he knows.
These people need professional help to change their ways, and don’t you, for one second, think that it is your mission in life to change them.
7. Choose your battles.
In life, there are times when we clash with people with whom we may not see eye to eye. There are battles worth fighting. Battles we know we can win. And there are those which are not worth our time. Perhaps some people just want to provoke us to see how we’d react. Don’t give them the time of day. Save your energy for something more productive. Believe me, it’s not worth it.
8. Start saving money at a young age.
Before you can invest in worthwhile things and activities, you first need to save money. Start saving early. Set aside a portion of your lunch money and deposit it in the bank by the end of the month. Don’t be one-day millionaires for you will grow up having the same mindset.
As the Stephen Bishop song goes, “You better save it for a rainy day.” You never know when you will need the extra cash. It’s better to have some saved up for emergency situations.
9. Invest in yourself.
Some people spend a lot of money on gadgets, expensive bags, and clothes. It is not bad to have these things. But what use are these things to you if the only thing people see when they look at you is nothing but an empty shell.
Invest in yourself. If you think there areas in your life that need working on, then go ahead and do it. Say you need to learn a new language for a job, then attend night classes. If you want a career in broadcasting but you feel you lack the confidence, enroll in a personality development course. This will pay off in the future.
10. No one is indispensable.
Maybe you graduated at the top of your class, or you’re on the top 10 of the bar exams. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how smart you think you are, you are dispensable. No one is so important or so good at what they do that they can’t be replaced.
You would do well to always keep this in mind to help keep you grounded. Always do your best, be a team player, and keep your fingers crossed that the powers that be can see your effort. I once heard a Filipino movie director say during a TV interview that she’d rather work with an actor who isn’t that good but is not a primadonna, than a talented actor with an attitude.
11. Carpe diem.
Seize the day. Don’t just sit there and wait for opportunities. If they don’t come, then create opportunities for yourself. Live your life with passion. You don’t have to be great by other people’s standards but you need to happy by yours.
12. This above all: to thine own self be true.
Be yourself. There’s no need to pretend to be someone else. It is exhausting for you’ll have to work really hard to maintain the charade. If you pretend to be someone you’re not, you’ll just attract the wrong kind of friends. Somewhere along the line, they will drop you if you start to seem less interesting to them.
Do you agree with our list? What advice would you give your younger self? Leave a comment in the comment box.