Life Lessons: Things I Wish I Could Tell My Twenty-Some-Year-Old Self

Posted by Smoother Life on

My twenties were some of the best and some of the most stressful times of my life. It seemed like everything had to be done by thirty – start building a solid career, learn to adult, start saving for retirement, build a resume for grad school, get in and graduate from grad school, find the one to spend the rest of your life with, get married, buy a home and have kids. Yes, and do this all before the clock strikes the big 3-0. It was a tall order to fill and I felt the pressure to get it all done by that special deadline.

I really hustled. I took on new jobs, new challenges and moved across the country. I dated, re-evaluated, broke up with the not-hims, and continued on with the quest to have it all. At the point when I began my graduate studies, I decided to move back home with my parents to save money. That was a pivotal moment.

When I moved back home, after being independent for so long, I recall being frequently irritated and moody. I always had one foot out the door. I was constantly coming and going, acting as if I were just passing through, on my way to bigger and better. I was embarrassed to be living at home with my parents. I absolutely couldn’t wait to move on.

It was bad. To be honest, my whole being was preoccupied with achieving the ranks of my classmates with cream-of-the-crop careers, peers who were more merely symbols than people I intimately knew. I was consumed with trying to prove something to myself and to others.

Perspectives certainly do change as we age.

Looking back, I see something different. I see how self-absorbed I was. In the company of my parents and grandmother and family, I was there but not there. I wish I could tell my twenty-some-year-old self to just slow down. Couldn’t I have just stopped to be mindfully present and attentive to the people that mattered the most to me? My parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles didn’t put conditions of success on me. They were simply happy to have me back home in town!

If I could, I would also tell my twenty-some-year-old self to just please be kinder to yourself. Work hard, but try to be more patient with yourself. Love, accept and appreciate who you are in this moment of development and imperfection. It is what makes you unique. Self-acceptance in your present state, as you are, will also translate to a more joyful, confident, and compassionate person who will in turn attract more genuine friends.

Work hard toward your goals, but don’t forget to come out and engage with the world. Every point of the journey is meaningful, significant, and worthwhile. Happiness is living in the present.

Don’t take anything for granted. I look back and cherish those days when my grandmother was still alive. Her small stature could barely contain the absolute ball of positive energy she was. She would rise at the crack of dawn, make breakfast for an army, and then start phoning her family to come on over and eat.  I recall how she laughed and hollered out to us kids, “C’mon, girls! Let’s take a cross-country road trip!” She was 87 at the time.

I remember back when my parents were younger and healthy and vibrant. They would cook up these massive lobster boils and have all their church friends come. Dad’s eyes would crinkle and smile as he told his beloved army stories about being stationed in Europe, and Mom would laugh and tease how everyone’s heard those stories already. I would walk by and force a meek smile, but my mind was restless and preoccupied. I was always thinking about myself, how to move on, and, chiefly, how to move back out.

Instead of being in my head all the time, I wish I could tell that younger self of mine to just stop. Look up, look around. Take in all the beautiful blessings around you. These are our family celebrations. Here are these wonderful moments where we are eating, relaxing, telling stories, and enjoying each other’s company. Wholeheartedly partake and enjoy them. Because milestones only happen once and you can’t go back.

Stay a little longer and tell a few more stories. Because nothing lasts forever.

Instead of being embarrassed about having to have moved back home, today my heart feels grateful for that special period of time in my life. Instead of thinking that I had to move back, I see now that I got to move back. What a blessing it was that I had a home to come back to. What a privilege it was to have been able to come home to parents and family that welcomed me back.

I wish I could tell my twenty-some-year-old self to just appreciate and enjoy every moment and every experience – because in the future, you will look back and view this time as the golden era of growth, development, and cherished family time. Enjoy your time with family and tell them how much you appreciate them. Because I know now, that time with those you love is truly precious and fleeting.

Smoother Life - What I would tell my twenty-some-year old self



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