15 Things I’d Tell My Younger Self
1. Very few people are really thinking about you.
In fact, what others see in you is largely contingent upon the way they look at themselves. In time you’ll learn this is a freedom and not a liability.
2. Even though you can take it, you don’t have to keep putting up with people who break you down or don’t add value to your life.
It’s never too late to change your relations with another person. Sometimes being strong looks like walking away.
3. Take the time to learn what you love instead of doing what you think will make you lovable.
When you’re so busy being what you think everyone else wants from you, you don’t have the capacity to figure out who you actually are.
4. Complicated people will always be detoured while they’re on their way to loving you, by the very thing that complicates them.
Being complicated is overrated; it’s much more rewarding to focus your efforts on keeping things simple.
5. You can’t save anyone.
Stay rooted in your own life instead of wasting your precious time and energy being consumed by the desire to weed other people’s gardens.
6. Stop trying to impress people you don’t like.
Recognize that when they say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, it’s because it takes them off a pedestal. But it also serves as a powerful reminder that your heroes are human and by virtue of which, flawed ones.
7. To truly fit in, you have to be okay with standing out.
Find comfort in being on your own for awhile. You have no reason to feel lonely if you’re in good company when you’re alone.
8. Foster community over competition.
When you share your resources, skills, and tactics with others, you’re growing the larger field in which you work. Everyone starts at the beginning, and even if you didn’t have support when you started, you can now choose to be the support for someone else’s beginning.
9. Learn how to stay.
You already know how to run when things get difficult. You know how to avoid intimacy and hide your vulnerability. But these things aren’t skills, they’re protective mechanisms. You may never get hurt, but you’ll never experience love this way either. So learn how to stay — inside your body, within your mind, and as a part of a relationship. This skill will come in handy on so many levels.
10. Don’t put people on a pedestal.
The ones actually worthy of your attention and admiration are often too humble or quiet for you to pay attention to them. The ones that boast and brag and tell you all about it aren’t busy enough doing their work. The more “successful” you get, the more you realize that the top looks a lot like a bunch of regular human beings.
11. Hurt people hurt people.
The pain we inflict upon others is usually equivalent to the pain we experience ourselves. In fact, we don’t even realize half the time we’re perpetuating suffering because we’re so consumed with our own. This doesn’t make it okay, but it does make it normal and something we all experience at some point or another.
12. Your parents aren’t perfect.
And neither are you. You can love people while still choosing to go your own way. It’s important to note that these two concepts are not mutually-exclusive. The sooner you come to learn this, the easier your life and relationships will be (and this includes your relationship with your parents).
13. Jealousy isn’t seductive.
Possessiveness isn’t a marker of adoration. Don’t confuse fragments of attention to signify greater things to come. When you’re only getting scraps of love, you’re still missing out on someone who feeds you the main course. Only that kind of love is nourishing enough to sustain you.
14. If someone only loves you when you’re walking out of their life, they’re not in love with you as much as they’re in love with you leaving.
But that also begs the question: why aren’t you seeking a love that wants you to stay? As cliche as it sounds, it’s really crucial to make this distinction as soon as you can: love isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. It’s not something you arrive at or acquire. It’s something you run with and work on every day. It’s something you make a habit of building, feeding, and nourishing. And it’s something that will wilt and wane if you don’t.
15. If it’s not a clear yes, it’s a no.
This applies to everything from jobs to relationships to hobbies to activities. Spend your energy and time well. If you don’t love it, don’t keep it around longer than it needs to be. Sure, there will be a lot of work you won’t particularly love, but if it’s part of a greater goal you’ll just have to put it in perspective and work through it. Yet if you don’t love it and you’re not too keen on the end goal either, let it go. There will no doubt be something else on its way just waiting for you to fall in love with it. So trust me, make the space.