I recently read a business article about successful entrepreneurs, and what advice they would give their 21 year old selves. It was an enjoyable read and quite insightful. Often when I read something like this, it makes me consider my life and sometimes, something weaves its way into my own adaptation of writing.
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I have been consumed lately with thoughts about my twenty one year old step daughter and where her life will take her, the journey she is on, and decisions she is making and will be making as she becomes the director of her destiny. I would love to give her advice, but I don’t! It all makes me wonder what advice I would give my 21 year old self. What advice will I give my daughter when she is old enough? I’ve done the exercise of what I would tell my 16 year old self, but let’s face it, at 16; life is all about hormones, emotion, first loves. We are consumed by trials and tribulations that make us feel as though our world is crashing in around us. At 21, at least you have usually survived your first break up, graduation, your first bona fide job, maybe post secondary school, but always the question of what you are going to do with the rest of your life.
So I compiled my own list of advice, and wow, I have a lot of advice I sure would like to give! It was great to write it out, because it made me question where I’ve been, where I am going, and hey, can I still use this advice, even if I am 40 something? It’s coming to me 20 years too late, but “better late than never”, isn’t it? What do you think?
Here goes, my advice, in absolutely no particular order at all!
1. Read. A lot. Learn. I don’t just mean novels, read anything that interests you and read about things you may think will peak your curiosity. Reading keeps you sharp.
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2. Learn something new. Don’t ever think you know it all or know enough, there is always something new to learn.
3. Find a mentor. Find someone you admire for their work ethic, parenting style, life or professional values. Find someone who is at least ten years older than you, someone who is trustworthy and who will answer your questions with honesty. If it’s possible, have a personal and a professional mentor.
4. Be curious. Ask questions. If you are genuinely curious about things, about people, you will learn to be a good listener. You will learn to value what other people say and you will gain knowledge from their stories.
5. Keep a journal. I’ve always been good at keeping a journal and I’m glad I did. Write down your thoughts, feelings and goals. Record the events in your life. Then go back and re-read then every once in a while. When you go back two years and re-read what you wrote, it’s like listening to yourself, hearing your heart, your yearnings. Let it be your reminder.
6. Be quiet. Be alone. Take the time to sit quietly, be by yourself. Listen to what you hear in the silence, what your body, your mind, your soul tell you. Don’t be scared to be alone, and know there is a difference between time alone and being lonely.
7. Be single. Not forever but don’t feel that you need to be in a relationship. When you are never alone, you don’t truly know who you are. You only know parts of you. When you move from relationship to relationship, you only know who you are when you are with another person. You hear all the time to “love yourself”, but I want you to “know” yourself. Knowing who you are comes to you, it really does. Sometimes it takes awhile, but it does come. Hopefully you are always changing and growing. This may be at the top of my advice!
8. Travel. You will find so many excuses not to go; you have no money, no one to go with, you’ll break your mom’s heart. Go. Go as often as you can. It doesn’t have to be far it just needs to happen. See the world from a different window not just the one where you work and live.
9. Love. You will get hurt. You will never forget your first love, but love people. Friends, family, and lovers. Love them without fear. You will always survive the heartbreak; it won’t kill you, even when you are certain it will. Being jaded, cynical and doubtful, it will kill you inside.
10. Be Healthy. You won’t always have your figure, maybe your looks will fade, so be healthy. Find an exercise that you like and do it. Try new ones, and do them too. Be careful what you put into your body, if it’s not good; don’t let it touch your lips.
11. Hug and Kiss. Embrace your friends and family. Touch is good between those you care about. Hold hands. Place your hands on top of your friends hand, mom, dad, and lover. Place your hand on their face, their arm, their shoulder. Kiss and kiss well, when you find that love, never stop kissing. Kiss deep, long, and with conviction.
12. Think about marriage, not your wedding. I was never one of those girls who dreamt about her wedding, what it would look like, what kind of dress I would wear or any of the other fantasies girls have about their weddings. I also didn’t have an example to look to of a good marriage and so I didn’t ever think about what a good marriage consisted of. You should! Marriage is hard, and it’s complicated. Spend more time thinking about what makes a marriage, what you want from a husband and what it means to be a good wife, and less time thinking of the beautiful dress. A wedding is one day, a marriage is not, so put your focus where it belongs.
13. Make mistakes. It happens, we all make so many mistakes in our lifetime, and that is ok. Just take the time to pause and learn from them. Think about what went wrong and what led to the mistake. Then forgive yourself. Forgive and move forward.
14. Be kind, every day. This is broad, I realize, but there are countless ways to be kind. Smile at people, in the grocery store, in the car next to yours, when you cross the street, to the homeless person. Let people into your lane when their signals are on, if someone drops something, don’t just notice it, and pick it up. Make cookies, just to give away, invite a friend to join you and another friend to the movie. Invite people to stay for dinner, not just to come over when plans are made. Offer someone a ride, volunteer your time, and pay for coffee for the person behind you. Just be kind.
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There you have it, just some of the advice I would offer. I stopped at 14, but I could have gone on. I have a favorite quote that I love, by Maya Angelou...”when you get, give....when you learn, teach.” It is so simple. But consider how much better of a place the world would be to live in, if every day, we lived by that one simple rule, get...give, learn...teach.
I’d love to hear from you, what advice would YOU give to your 21 year old self? Share with me in the comments below
Thank you for stopping by.