Lessons for my 22 year old self

Inspired by the “If I were 22…” meme floating around LinkedIn right now.  

collegegraduationIf you were to tell me that you have no regrets about your life so far, I would assume that you are either suffering from selective amnesia or a lying liar who lies.  I’ve probably been guilty myself at some point of voicing that pretentious idea that every mistake we make creates a better person.  a.) Mistakes don’t always make us better people, and b.) there may have been easier ways to learn the lesson that we ended up learning.

If I had a chance to talk to my 22 year old self, these are the lessons I wish I could impart:

1. Money can’t buy happiness.  But being generous with your money can.

  • Always overtip.  Tip well for bad service.  Tip very well for good service.  Every so often, tip like you’ve just inherited money because it will make someone’s day.
  • Buy gifts for loved ones when you see something that makes you think of them.  Don’t wait for a special occasion to give it to them.
  • Decide what you feel most passionately about and donate regularly.  Don’t feel guilty about all of the charities that you can’t support (because no matter how hard you try, you can’t support them all) and focus on the good that you can do.

2. Don’t pretend that money doesn’t matter.  Money can’t buy happiness, but not having money can certainly create anxiety and stress.

  • Don’t make a career decision based on the salary, but don’t sell yourself short.
  • Be smart about your money as early as possible.  It will give you opportunities that you won’t have otherwise.
  • Find the right balance.

3. Every bad situation offers a lesson that you can learn.  You don’t have to stick around to learn it.

  • Adversity does build character.  When faced with a bad situation, do your best to remind yourself that you’ll get through it and you’ll be stronger.
  • If you don’t have to “get through it”, you have the right to move on.  Don’t stick around just to learn a lesson the hard way.  You’ll eventually find someone else who can pass that lesson along to you through second hand experience.
  • A wise friend has passed along to me her mantra when it comes to being in a situation that you aren’t happy or satisfied with: Change it, accept it or move on.

4. You will love people that should be around forever, and they’ll drop out of your life unexpectedly and painfully.  You will love people who don’t seem like they fit into your life, but you’ll adjust your life to make sure they can stay.  You won’t know which is which at first, so take a chance on them all.

  • Be even more generous with your friendship and love than with your money.
  • People will surprise you, for better and for worse.
  • You might not ever know what went wrong.  Forgive.

5. You will make mistakes.  You won’t always be able to fix it.

  • Learn to ask for help early and often.
  • If you can, fix it.
  • Ask (or beg) for forgiveness when it’s your fault something (or someone) is broken.
  • Forgive yourself for your mistakes.  Carrying guilt for things that you can’t change doesn’t help anyone.

6. You aren’t normal.  Neither is anyone else.

  • You won’t meet a single person in the next 15 years who thinks they are normal.
  • Don’t try to fit into someone else’s idea of who you should be, because they don’t know you as well as you know yourself.
  • You do deviate from societal norms in many ways.  It makes you awesome.

2014-05-26 19.06.057. Stop waiting to feel like a “grown up”.  It won’t ever happen.

  • In 15 years, you’ll be older.
  • In 15 years, you’ll have had experiences that have made you wiser.
  • In 15 years, you’ll have far more questions than answers.
  • In 15 years, you’ll wonder why the hell you ever thought 37 was “old” or even “mature”.
  • In 15 years, you won’t believe how quickly the past 15 years went by.

 

2 thoughts on “Lessons for my 22 year old self

    • I wish I could say that I’ve really internalized these lessons already. Maybe if I had started learning them at 22, I would be better about actually listening to my own advice!

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